DIY





Women Farmers Connect, Share and Grow


| 7/25/2016 10:05:00 AM



Potlucks led to SOIL SISTERS: A Celebration of Farms and Rural Life

Ask a woman farmer and homesteader what her best source of information is, and she probably won’t send you online to a website.  Undoubtedly, it will be another fellow farmer. The strength of our sustainable and organic agriculture movement deepens and widens through our support of each other.  Given this support network, it comes as no surprise that women farmers are among the fastest growing segments of new farmers today.

Take those connections a step further in your own community by creating a local farmer network in your area.  That’s exactly what seeded over five years ago when a group of women committed to sustainable agriculture started meeting regularly for potlucks here in my south central area of Wisconsin.  This area ranks in the heart of America’s conventional dairyland, where organic and small-scale farmers are still the underdog minority.  For that underlying reason, it quickly became apparent that our fledgling group shared a priority to connect regularly and support each other.

Soil Sisters Celebrates Women Farmers

Flash forward to 2016 and our “South Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture” group’s impact can be felt locally, both from an economic and educational perspective.  Our flagship annual event now lures both tourists and locals to over twenty women-owned farms to experience sustainable agriculture and rural living at its finest.  Soil Sisters: A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms and Rural Life, the name for this event, is now a project of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) and Renewing the Countryside, with funding support from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The Soil Sisters event consists of a full weekend of engaging and interactive on-farm activities held the first weekend in August; the dates this year are August 5 – 7, 2016.   From our MOSES In Her Boots workshop for aspiring women farmers to culinary events to a free Soil Sisters: Tour of Farms that involves eight women-owned operations, our local farmer network’s impact goes beyond dishes served around a potluck table.  We’re positively impacting our community, from the food we grow, land we nurture and business we drum up.



Today, our South Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture group boasts over 125 active area women that gather at six on-farm potlucks throughout the year, minus a winter break. What continually amazes me is the long, growing list of tangible outcomes that come out of women who informally, but regularly, gather over supper. A beginning farmer connected with a woman with extra land to lease, and a partnership formed. Some women started a chicken feed buying co-op to enhance their collective buying power. Countless baby goats, heritage hogs, and local insurance agent recommendations are shared.



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