y parents told me I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up.”
Amanda learned there was an exception to “whatever” when her father initially denied her request to farm.
Fourth generation farmer of the same land, Amanda Brocato was born and raised in Floyd County, Texas, where she spent her days hoeing cotton fields.
“I didn’t like it,” Brocato said.
What Brocato said she did love was spending time with her father farming.
In her 20s, Brocato decided she wanted to be a farmer. Holding onto the “I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up,” mentality that her parents instilled in her, she expressed to her father how much she wanted to farm.
“I’m smart,” she begged her father. “I love it.”
Being the middle child with an older sister and younger brother, her father told her she could not take over the family’s land, because it was reserved for males in the family, leaving her younger brother the sole inheritor of the land.
Although she knew her brother did not even like to farm, Brocato set off for Missouri and a career in marketing instead of being able to pursue her dream job.
“I had a career in marketing and high heels, big hair, the whole nine yards and swore I would never, never, ever come back,” exclaimed Brocato.
Although Amanda had made the proclamation to never return to West Texas, her loyalty to her family brought her back. In 2010, both of her parents became sick causing her to stop in Lubbock, Texas, for what she thought would only be a “couple of days.” Those couple of days turned into a couple of weeks and, after a conversation with her father, several years. With her father on his “proverbial deathbed,” she once again brought to his attention her desire to farm.
“I don’t want to do anything else,” she told her father. “I know that I was born to farm.”
Finally agreeing to let Brocato begin her farming career, her father leased her a half section of his land.
“Nothing but a bindweed farm,” Brocato said. “Dry land, no water, horrible, horrible weeds.”
Her father said, “Good luck, have fun!”
With a full awareness of her possible hindrances as a female, Brocato hit the ground running toward the career she had been dreaming about.
Being a female farmer, the “lone ranger,” and facing a lot of discrimination, she was determined to make it happen. Despite the doubt from her loan officer, Brocato received the loan and excitedly bought a tractor.
She began farming cotton but faced a severe drought and ended up collecting the insurance money in her first year. Not having anything else to do, she decided to plant a garden and sell the produce.
Let’s plant a garden, and we can sell this stuff. It will be awesome,” Brocato said when telling her father of her new plans. “You’re crazy,” her father told her, sparking the idea for the name and development of her business, Crazy Hoe Farms.
Beginning her journey in specialty crops, she leased the land back to her father and started going to farmer’s markets in Lubbock. She also bought a historical warehouse in Floydada, Texas, and tried aquaponics for a couple of years.
“I like trying new things, because with farmers in agriculture we just keep doing the same thing over and over again because that’s what we’ve always done,” Brocato said. “To think outside the box that I could make so much more money from vegetables than I could cotton, it was real mind-blowing.”
Brocato said that today she is fully immersed in growing specialty crops.
“[I’m] super, super passionate about it. I mean like crazy passionate,” she said.
Growing microgreens year-round and planting strawberries in the fall has led her to many new opportunities. Brocato has found selling locally is her niche. She provides fresh produce to many local restaurants, such as Craft House Gastropub, the Texas Tech Club, Stella’s, Hillcrest Country Club, Café J, wineries, and even catering and special events.
“I really like to work with chefs,” Brocato said. “I love the art of agriculture.”
While participating in farmers markets, Brocato met a fellow female business owner and produce lover, Kelle Barnard. The two quickly became dear friends. Barnard operates Kelle B Jammin’, her own “happy accident” small gourmet jam business.
“I started selling at the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market,” she said. “That’s where I met Amanda. And back then we were just kind of like, ‘Hey you’re a lady. I’m a lady. There’s not many ladies out here,’ and so we kind of introduced ourselves that way,” Barnard said.
Their friendship has flourished through the partnership they have created. Barnard purchases her strawberries from Brocato’s Crazy Hoe Farms.
“There’s just something about things that are locally grown,” Barnard said. “They just taste so much better and so then that means that my jams taste so much better.”
Bernard understands the hardships Brocato faces as a women farmer.
“It takes people with perseverance like that to keep things moving forward,” Barnard said.
Brocato’s perseverance and brave spirit are what have allowed her business to grow and have inspired many other female farmers and female businesswomen.
“Passion and perseverance really do pay off,” Brocato said.
She plans on running her farm for a long time and wants to continue to be a good steward of the land while sharing what she grows.
“Growing stuff is what I’ve always done,” she said.