Building on Wisconsin’s long-standing agricultural roots, women today are plowing new farming and food-based business ventures, blending entrepreneurial start-ups with their passion for bringing healthy, fresh, local food to our communities. From launching new farms to preserve-making operations, this growing trend of women “ecopreneurs” creatively build successful businesses around their passion for conservation, community and leaving this world a better place.
The Rural Women’s Project, a venture of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES), champions this movement by providing training, networking and support for women dedicated to sustainable agriculture. A new workshop series launching this July, “In Her Boots: Sustainable Farming For Women, By Women,” will provide on-farm, day-long women-led sharing of resources, experiences and inspiration to further connect and grow this movement and encourage and support this growing segment of organic farmers, entrepreneurs and agricultural leaders.
The kick-off “In Her Boots” workshop” will be on Sunday, July 24th, at Still Point Farm in Brooklyn, Wisconsin, about 20 miles south of Madison in Green County. Owned by Pamela and Larry Johnson, this session will feature an inspiring blend of farm and food business ideas and resources for women. In addition to a tour of Still Point Farm’s cut flower operation, panels and break-out sessions include advice and ideas from an inspiring group of Wisconsin women food and farm entrepreneurs: Jen Lynch of LaFortuna Pizza (a mobile wood-fired pizza business), Clare Stoner Fehsenfeld of Quince & Apple (small-batch preserves) and Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm (organic vegetable CSA and goat milk soaps). The workshop runs from 9:30am til 4:30pm and includes a LaFortuna pizza lunch. Cost is $20 per person with scholarships available. This workshop is for both seasoned growers interested in new, value-added business ideas as well as women exploring new career and livelihood options.
“Women supporting other women is a win-win for us all,” says Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm. “By sharing my story and experiences in running our organic farm for over 15 years, I’m hoping others can harvest both learnings and inspiration for their own ventures. The more we can collectively encourage each other and the more new businesses supporting healthy, local food that sprout as a result of workshops like these, the better for our community overall.”
These new “In Her Boots” workshops reflect that fact that the number of women farmers increased nationally nearly thirty percent according to the latest U.S Department of Agriculture’s census. Wisconsin ranks among the top ten states in the country for farms operated by women, increasing 25 percent from 2002 to 2007 to a current number of over 9,000 farms.
“Women are the changemakers and play a critical role in transforming our food system,” explains Faye Jones, Executive Director at MOSES. “Whether you’re a seasoned woman farmer or just starting to explore creating a business around your passion for good, healthy food, the ‘In Her Boots’ workshops connects area women and sparks new collaborationsand ideas.” Additionally, In Her Boots will also discuss ways for women passionate about changing our food system to increase their leadership role in the movement.
Additional In Her Boots workshops will be held in Montevideo, MN (August 17th), Herbster, WI (August 21st), Elk Mound, WI (August 23rd) and in partnership with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) at their East Troy farm on September 11th. Each day-long workshop will feature different topics based on the farm host location, from grass-fed meat operation to organic dairy. Women can attend one or more than one depending on interests and distance.