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Empowering the Harvest

Celebrating Female Farmers and Food Founders on Women's Equality Day

As Women's Equality Day is upon us, it's an opportune moment to reflect upon the remarkable journey of female farmers and food founders who have not only cultivated the land but also sowed the seeds of change within the food industry. Among these inspiring pioneers is our very own, Claire Smith, the visionary founder of Tenera Grains Products, whose story and spirit mirrors the ingenuity of countless women who have left an indelible mark on agriculture and gastronomy.

Breaking Ground and Stereotypes

The world of farming and food has long been dominated by male figures, but women have been an integral force behind the scenes for centuries. Historically relegated to the shadows, female farmers have managed to break through barriers and redefine their roles in ways that have revolutionized the industry. Claire's journey embodies this narrative of breaking stereotypes and embracing new opportunities.

Prior to 2015, the Tenera Grains Farm had never done any food grade farming (all crops were grown & sold for livestock feed). Claire’s dad, Brad Smith, was prompted to grow teff as a grain for human consumption, but it was Claire who took this tiny grain and introduced it into popular food products. After adding teff to gluten-free granola, Teffola was born. Having been raised to believe she could do anything she set her mind to, Claire felt empowered to build Teffola into a company despite having no experience or education in business, product development or consumer packaged goods. 

From Seed to Shelf: Transforming the Food Landscape

The impact of female farmers and food founders reaches far beyond the fields and kitchens. Their contributions have transformed the very essence of how we grow, produce, and consume food. 

Katie Reneker, founder of Carmel Berry, is one of the women in the industry who inspires our work here at Tenera Grains because of her approach to the supply chain. Katie helps farmers across the states bring new revenue streams to their operations by teaching them to grow elderberries and offering microgrants and mentorship. 99% of the elderberries consumed in the United States are imported so she helps those farmers get a piece of that market! Her company makes products using these elderberries and educates consumers on this delicious ingredient and the farms they originate from. Sounds familiar! Katie has done an incredible job building Carmel Berry while being a role model for other companies.

Planting Seeds of Empowerment

Perhaps one of the most significant impacts of female farmers and food founders is the empowerment they bring to local communities. By entering the traditionally male-dominated field, these women challenge norms and pave the way for others to follow suit. Through mentorship, education, and community engagement, they cultivate an environment where equality and progress can flourish. We specifically look to work from Midwest advocates like Danielle Todd of Make Food Not Waste in Detroit, Kiki Louya and Rouhani Foulkes from Folk in Detroit, and Alyssa Hartman from Artisan Grain Collaborative. 

Cultivating Change

As we celebrate Women's Equality Day, it's essential to remember that progress is an ongoing journey. While remarkable strides have been made, there is still work to be done to ensure equal opportunities for women in the farming and food industries. As you savor your breakfast or enjoy a delicious meal, take a moment to appreciate the women who have played pivotal roles in nourishing our bodies and our minds. 

By supporting female farmers, food founders, and entrepreneurs, you contribute to a more diverse and resilient food system and a future where equality thrives.

Some of our favorite women owned food businesses:

Lil Bucks

Carmel Berry

Hummus Goodness

Miss Kim’s

Pietrzyk Pierogi

Drifter Coffee

Avalon Bakery

Thyme & Honey

Find more female founded brands at The W Marketplace