Lisa Kivirist, Author, Farmer and Advocate for Women in Sustainable Agriculture

Name: Lisa KiviristLisa Kivirist Author Farmer Advocate

Occupation: Author, Farmer, Innkeeper

Place of Residence: The rolling green hills of southern Wisconsin

Background and Personal History: A national advocate for women in sustainable agriculture, Lisa Kivirist is a Senior Fellow, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, focusing on identifying opportunities to champion leadership development among female farmers and rural women.  She founded and leads the Rural Women’s Project of the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service, an award- winning initiative championing female farmers and food-based entrepreneurs.

Lisa was recognized by In Business Magazine as a “Woman of Industry” for leadership growing the women in sustainable agriculture movement and by the Green Chamber of Commerce as “Women As Game Changers: 28 of the world’s leading women in sustainability and social reform who are fiercely changing the game in their world.”

Her latest book is Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers, compiling advice, support and resources from over 100 women in the sustainable agriculture movement. Publishers Weekly calls it, “a richly detailed book with lots of useful advice, and any woman (or man, for that matter) interested in farming would do well to read it.”

Together with her husband, John Ivanko, Lisa is co-author of Homemade for SaleFarmstead ChefECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance. She writes on food, farming and women in agriculture for a range of publications including Natural Awakenings, Hobby Farms, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and Grit.

Lisa, John and their son Liam run Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed & Breakfast, a diverse farm operation completely powered by the wind and the sun and considered among the “Top Ten Eco-Destinations” in North America and nestled in the rolling green hills of southern Wisconsin.

Current Projects:

• Launching the Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers book and continuing to write about and champion the inspiring stories of women farmers cultivating change.

•  Advancing opportunities for food business start-ups in home kitchens through expanding awareness of cottage food laws, including taking on a lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin to get baked goods included.

•  Building local community through hosting “Community Hearth” afternoons where Inn Serendipity fires up their outdoor, wood-fired open and area folks come and bake bread and share, usually over some local cheese and wine!

•  Bringing a bit of the beach mindset to rural Wisconsin: Building the “Serendipi-Tiki Bar.”

Other Fun Facts: Lisa couldn’t germinate zucchini the first year on the farm. When Lisa, along with her husband, John Ivanko, moved to their Wisconsin homestead, they came with zero farming experience.  With the help of resources like MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the Rodale Organic Gardening Guide and, importantly, the support and advice of kindred sustainability spirits along the way, Lisa experimented, failed, laughed and learned.

Flash forward twenty years and farm is vibrant, zucchini prolific and new ideas keep flowing.  The moral to that story:  If Lisa can bring her farm dream to life, so can you!

More Places to Find Lisa on the Web:

Soil Sisters Book

Inn Serendipity

Lisa Kivirist on Facebook

Photo by Brava Enterprises/Josh Witzel