Women in agriculture: Inside a female-run lavender farm

June 27, 2016

Although Fauquier County is known for its farmland, there aren’t many farms in the county that are run and owned by women. According to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, only 14 percent of principal farm operators in the United States were women. Deborah Williamson and her mother, Edith Williamson, however, are part of the 14 percent. They own the Seven Oaks Lavender Farm in Catlett, Virginia. Both Deborah and Edith have run the lavender farm’s operations since its opening in 2005, and while a few men work at the farm, most of the work is carried out by the women. Deborah and Edith have found a way to turn their passion project into a lucrative business. For years, D.C. metro residents have frequented the farm to pick their own lavender. Aside from the pick-your-own experience, the farm offers a line of lavender products -- from sprays and oils to soap and even lavender-flavored cupcakes! Although the farm has been successful and rewarding thus far, Deborah says it takes a lot of work and energy to manage the farm and business, especially during the flower's season (June to mid-July). Regardless, she doesn’t regret her decision in the 1990s to give up the city life and move back to the country to start the farm. The video below illustrates Deborah and Edith’s story of starting and maintaining the farm. It also discusses how more women are considering careers in farming and agriculture.