Tine and Karin Magnus: “everybody pitches in equally around the farm”

Tine Magnus and her mother Karin are endive producers near Brussels, Belgium. The family exploitation is composed of Tine, Karin and Tine’s brother and father Sam and Johan. The tasks are divided equally among the family.

Karin is responsible for the last steps in the process: packing the endives and quality control, along with personnel, while Tine does the accountancy and helps with the administration, just like everybody else, when she works in the office, but another important part of her job is to drive the machinery and do the transports to and from the auction. She also helps out in the field whenever she is needed there.

“I have been helping at the family exploitation since I was little”, Tine explains, remembering “if I wanted to ride my pony, I had to do a few chores first”. Tine has a teacher’s and sports management degree and is pursuing a career as an international eventing rider next to her fulltime job on the farm.

The family work hard to open the dialogue between citizens and farmers, offering guided visits at the exploitation with tastings of various recipes with endives. Karin even participated in a cooking contest on Belgian television, the perfect occasion for her to talk about life as a farmer: “I was happy to get the chance to talk about our work and show the audience how things really are at the farm, because it makes me sad that we as farmers always have to defend ourselves to the outside world. Why would we want to produce unhealthy, unsafe products or harm the soil and nature, the two things we need the most as farmers? That’s why I think it’s important to open the dialogue and show our side of the story.”

Karin has noticed how the role of women has evolved over the passed decades, going from the family caretaker and managing the household to becoming the equal of men on the farm: “nowadays, women are the decision makers on the farm, just like men. Just look at our farm: Tine drives the tractor and Sam helps around the house. Everyone has his or her tasks and everybody pitches in.”

Tine: “women are in the fields with the men, make the decisions around the farm and many of them manage their farms alone, so we are far from the more traditional role of caretaker. It’s still funny to see some people’s reaction when they see me sitting in the cabin of a tractor, though. They don’t expect a young woman at the wheel, but they’d better get used to it!”

You can read the full article (in Dutch) on Hectares

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