12 S G M A G A Z I N E | FA L L 2 0 1 8 AGRICULTURE Breaking the ‘Grass Ceiling’: Women are involved in every aspect of agriculture as farm owners, scientists, economists, veterinarians, agribusiness leaders, and hundreds of jobs that help sustain agriculture throughout the U.S. Once regarded as a male-dominated profession, the U.S. Department of Agriculture now counts approximately 1 million women as “farm operators.” In Georgia, where agriculture ranks as the No. 1 industry and contributes approximately $74.3 billion in annual economic impact, 29 percent of the state’s farmers are women. Women Are Changing the Agricultural Landscape Brooks Gibbs: An Entrepreneurial Spirit I started helping Eric on the farm, and eventually I knew that God was calling me to do something. - BROOKS GIBBS I knew that God was calling me to do something. I wasn’t sure what but I knew it was something here on the farm.” As farm production continued to increase, Gibbs noticed that more customers wanted the peas and butter beans to be shelled. “Eric was busy selling whole peas and butter beans in bulk at markets throughout Georgia and Alabama,” Gibbs explained. “I wanted to shell them, and then sell them wholesale to markets and stores.” With an entrepreneurial spirit and a keen eye for a new business venture, Gibbs suggested they open a shelling facility. “Eric told me that if I could get enough people to agree to buy them wholesale, then he would build me a packing house,” she said. “So that is what I did.” In a community where most farmers claim a multi-generation farming heritage, Eric and Brooks Gibbs are unique. As a first generation farming family, the Gibbs started growing mostly peas and butter beans. Almost 20 years later, Gibbs Farms is a major farming operation that includes a packing facility and retail store located near Abbeville in Wilcox County. For Brooks Gibbs, her childhood dream was to become a school teacher. “As a little girl I always asked for a new chalkboard and school supplies for my birthday and Christmas,” said Gibbs, who graduated with a degree in education in 2007. “After I graduated there were no jobs here in Wilcox County,” she said. “I started helping Eric on the farm, and eventually