The Living Lab
As reported by the Irish Farmers Association in 2019, of the 137,500 farms in Ireland, 12% are in female ownership while 4% have joint male/female owners.
In Ireland, women are more likely to access land ownership through marriage rather than inheritance. Joint Farming Ventures (JFT), through which women can access co-management, if not co-ownership of land, are studied as a potential way for rural women to develop a leadership position on farms.
A positive income stream developed for rural women innovators is the ACORNS programme (Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups), funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine through the Rural Innovation and Development Fund since 2014.
Rural women have reported several drivers to becoming innovators including the need to contribute to the sustainability of family farms; environmental values; the desire to develop a potentially profitable business idea conceptualised during “off-farm” work and business education.