Photo: Bill Winters
Amy Wu is an award-winning writer for the women’s ag and agtech movement based in the Hudson Valley. She is an entrepreneur and storyteller bridging the action in the field with the digital advances in the office and laboratory. Wu spent over two decades as an investigative reporter at media outfits including the USA Today Network, Time magazine, and she has contributed to The New York Times, HuffPost, and Wall Street Journal.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word agtech, it is as it sounds. It’s simply the morphing of agricultural and technology. It is about using emerging technologies to expand and improve both productivity and profitability, as well as sustainability of farms. It’s about adopting new technology to improve our food system through innovation and ultimately producing healthier and more sustainable food.
Wu’s book, From Farms to Incubators: Women Innovators Revolutionizing How Our Food Is Grown, includes 30 stories of women innovators across the globe who are deeply involved in agtech. “I use storytelling to celebrate these women and connect them to each other. I wanted the stories to inspire young women and those searching for a second career,” said Wu.
In 2016 Wu moved to the Salinas Valley to write about agriculture. It became clear that not only were farmers facing a multitude of challenges, but there were very few women minorities involved in the profession. The challenges which include climate change and precarious water and soil supplies, but the growing field of agtech was a promising solution.
Photo: Dexter Farm
Wu learned how agtech was helping to mitigate these challenges by using drones, artificial Intelligence, sophisticated soil sensors, data analytics, and robotics. This revelation became the impetus to create From Farms to Incubators and she created a multimedia platform that uses documentary, video, photography, and the written word to tell the stories of women leaders and innovators in agtech. Her mission is to highlight the amazing women, with emphasis on women of color, currently in the food, farming, and farmtech space, and through their stories get more women involved.
For example, Wu shares the story of Jessica Gonzalez who left her engineering job to take care of her family’s farm when her father became ill. Upon returning home, Jessica was inspired to use innovative and regenerative farming principles to make wellness products that would benefit those around her. Jessica’s love for farming, technology and beekeeping culminated when Happy Organics was founded in 2018. Jessica’s idea of infusing harvested raw honey with CBD came to her as she searched to find a way to ease her fathers’ pain. “The raw plant proved too harsh to ingest so we infused CBD oil with our sweet honey, improving the experience and taste, all while maintaining the benefit of pain relief,” Jessica explained. “Happy Organics offers a variety of honey and hemp-derived products that are sweet, sustainable, and sure to make one smile,” said Jessica.
The O Zone - A New Collaboration in Red Hook
“I love to connect people and the more the merrier,” said Wu as she explained her new partnership with The O Zone in Red Hook. The O Zone is a place where the community can go and find out about the option available to live a sustainable lifestyle. The shop offers a variety of goods, services, and workshops for residents by providing resources and opportunities for the community to learn and engage in sustainability practices. The shop, or what they refer to as the marketplace, features household cleaning products in bulk-refill and toiletries such as soaps, shampoos, and lotions. At their learning center they engage the support of local business and educators to provide programs on environmental topics such as food justice, pollinator gardening and farm to school programing.
Farm Folk: Networking for Hudson Valley Women in Agtech
With her feet firmly planted back in the Hudson Valley, Wu is focused on uniting local women working in the food and farming sectors. Her new networking group, Women in Ag, gives women the opportunity to connect and network with other women in agriculture. They meet once a month at the Ozone to share a meal and talk about their successes and challenges. Recently, 18 women came together over a potluck dinner to network and connect with one another.
“To keep a torch lit, you need a community,” said Wu. For Wu, it is about women collaborating and working together to make fundamental changes that help propel women into Agtech sector and to become leaders in the agrifoodtech world.
The Farm Folk group meets every third Friday of the month at 5:30 p.m. If you are women working in the Hudson Valley in food or farming and would like to know more about the networking group, email the firstname.lastname@example.org.