There’s a beauty in a long life spent on the farm and working with your hands. For Robin Dunn of Wellsville, Kansas, that beautiful life started on the family farm which was purchased by her great-grandmother in 1907. After Robin finished her degree, she traded the rolling Flint Hills for the calm waves of the Southern California coastline to work as a landscape designer.
To many, working outdoors in the sun-soaked coastline of Orange County is an ideal destination. However, she felt the call in 1993 to come back to the farm and is now the principal farmer at Dunn’s Landing, a “female owned and operated 1,000 acre working farm” that has been in her family since her great grandmother purchased the land in 1907. As the principal owner of the farm, she tends to the fields and livestock, looks after the horses, manages a quiet bed and breakfast on the property, and even oversees the farm’s wedding and agritourism venue that is solidly booked throughout the spring and into the fall.
Robin is one the 6,700 women of Kansas and 280,000 women in the United States who hold the title as the principal farm operator. Although many people see farming as a predominantly male-occupied business, women account for over 30% of all principal farm operators according to the 2012 U.S. Census. Collectively, these hard-working women have sold over $12.9 billion in agriculturally-related products each year.
Individually, Robin has successfully managed the land, her crops, and multiple businesses with her trusty dogs by her side. She’s put her back into the often back-breaking work, had her knees replaced, and still walks proudly as she gathers the eggs or to harness the horses for another carriage ride in town. It’s a hard life, farming. It’s humble work, but there’s beauty in the work. While the Southern California sun may leave you with a golden tan, to toil over the land and under the Kansas sky leaves a farmer with character, the beautiful character of a life spent on the farm.
Robin's photo is the cover of my Kansas Farmer book. This 56-page, hard-cover coffee table book is also a scholarship fundraiser that seeks to raise money for students interested in agricultural advocacy. Click HERE to order the book.
Scott Stebner is an agricultural photographer who specializes in taking powerful and captivating photographs of those who make a living off the land.