Today is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the cultural, economic and/or political achievements of women. We are highlighting Marlowe Ivey Vaughan, a mom, millennial farmer and a strong voice for farmers and agriculture in North Carolina. She serves as the executive director of Feed the Dialogue, a non-profit group that seeks to help North Carolina residents understand more about farming and agriculture in the state of North Carolina. The group accomplishes this goal by interviewing farmers, coordinating farm tours and hosting special events. Feed the Dialogue also answers questions through its website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about hot topics like antibiotics, hormones, genetic engineering, animal welfare and more.
How did you get started with Feed the Dialogue?
“After college I was selling pork products up and down the East Coast. I realized that I was spending just as much time telling the story of where our food comes from and our agricultural system as I was selling product. It was then I realized that there was a lot of misconceptions and disconnection to our food system. And, that I had a passion for telling the ag story. In March of 2017, I became executive director of Feed the Dialogue which allows me to follow my passion.
Did you grow up on a farm? How do you think it is different raising kids on a farm now verses when you were growing up?
“I grew up on a sow farm in Wayne County and did help out on the farm growing up. Farming was a way of life. I am a 4th generation farmer and growing up on a farm and in the agricultural community I thought everyone knew what I knew about animals and agriculture.
It is only when I left the farm to go to school that I discovered most people have never stepped foot on a farm and don’t understand where food actually comes from. Even in college, I enjoyed telling the ag story to friends and others.
I currently farm pigs in Lenoir and Wayne counties. My daughter Kivett does come to the farm with us and will help out as she can as she gets older.”
What do you see as the changing role of women is in farming/agriculture?
“Women are increasingly taking a role in being ag communicators and telling the ag story. If you look at some of the top industry groups for agriculture they have women in their communication and outreach roles. There is a need for more communicators in agriculture and I think women can fill this role.
This generation knows even less that the one before it about agriculture. We are one more generation removed from the farm. They may ride by in their cars and see farm land but they have even less of an understanding of where food comes from or food systems.”
What would your advice be to young people that wanted to get involved in agriculture?
“Careers in agriculture are not just coveralls and pitchforks. Not all farms or farmers look the same – this especially applies to millennial farmers. There is a lot of diversity in food systems and types of farms. Farmers are often too busy farming to be on social media, or to help communicate the ag story.
The younger generation can help tell the story of ag. I would encourage youth to be open minded, get involved with local farms and their local Farm Bureau.”
Since it is International Women’s Day – who is your female role model or hero?
“There are several women in Wayne County that have been role models and heroes for me. However, my heroes are all women in agriculture that have come before me – they were the trailblazers for us young women farmers.”
For more information about Feed the Dialogue, visit them online at feedthedialoguenc.com or on their social media sites.