Women in Aquaculture: Amanda Moeser, Yarmouth resident

It frustrates me that as a woman and beginning farmer, I am eligible for catastrophic crop insurance at no cost through the USDA; however, the species I want to grow (quahogs) and the methods I prefer to use (bottom seeding) are not eligible for coverage.

In my view, this is a prime example of longstanding and unresolved institutional bias at the federal level, but it also occurs within state policy, university research initiatives, funding and industry advocacy organizations. Of all the obstacles I have encountered, institutional biases are the most concerning and the most difficult to overcome.

Photo by Amanda Moeser

Lanes Island Oysters – “Grown by Amanda in Yarmouth”

Terry and Sally were my first customers and have been buying from me ever since. I enjoy their store as I have overwintered oysters in the cooler, it’s close to my house and they always treat me fairly.

Every time I drop off oysters, I’m there at least an hour because we like to catch up and talk about our farms.

Sally also has her own farm and a clam fishing license, and takes care of all the day-to-day chores with the shop’s customers. They both have to work, full time and more, to run the business.

It annoys me when ‘leaders’ promote direct-to-consumer marketing as a means of supporting small-scale fishing and farming businesses. It’s another full-time job I don’t need on top of my already full-time job, various part-time jobs, community service, and family responsibilities. I love my intermediary and our companies work in tandem.

Photo by Amanda Moeser

Platform

One of my favorite magazine articles on the role of gender in fishing is titled: “Before asking permission, now we give advice”. That’s part of how I feel about the dock where I work and where I keep my boat.

Now I am free to come and go as I please. It’s an essential access point for my farm because it doesn’t always freeze in the winter and I have parking in the summer thanks to one of the fishermen.

I can’t wait to go to the dock because I love the people and the stories I hear while I’m there.

I strongly believe that gender norms have a foothold in our society and work insidious ways, but I also know that these guys accept me and really want to see me succeed. For me personally (and gender relations more broadly), it’s important to continue working with men, as well as women.

Photo by Amanda Moeser

Night tides

Most oyster farmers pack up their stuff for the winter – but my schedule, workplace, and gear are more like wild clams – so they’re the bulk of my social network.

It took me a long time to find the courage to take the boat out alone after dark in the winter. It is dark and hovering around the freezing point. I don’t have the luxury of having a heated cabin, lighted decks, navigation systems, depth sounders and GPS, all of which are common on lobster boats and other fishing vessels.

For the first two years, one of the guys would drop me off at Lanes Island (the uninhabited island where I farm) before the tide and pick me up on the way back. Last year, one of them took the time to help me practice navigating in the dark.

Now I’m confident enough to go it alone, but we still check in on each other and make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the night. It is no understatement to say that I entrust my life to them and that these relationships are a matter of life and death.

Photo by Amanda Moeser

Farm Sunset

It’s just a nice photo of my farm before sunset. It’s only when the tide goes out that I can see the fruits of my labor. I love that it’s hidden below the surface.

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