Local Women in Sustainable Agriculture Networks
The MOSES Rural Women’s Project supports opportunities for women committed to sustainable agriculture to get together in person and develop strong local connections and collaborations. Statewide networking sessions are held at the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference.
Local networks that meet regularly for potlucks, farm tours and other local gatherings include the following. Check out Facebook for updates. Please contact the organizers directly for more information:
South Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture
Contact: Lisa Kivirist
General region: Green, Iowa, Layfayette, Rock (western) and southern Dane counties
Southeast Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture
Contact: Christine Welcher
General region: Walworth, Rock (eastern), Jefferson, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha counties
West Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture
Contact: Pam Dixon
General region: Dunn, St. Croix, Pierce, Pepin and Barron counties
Researcher looks at reasons women enter farming
By Clare Hintz
As a beginning woman farmer, I am keenly aware of how many women there are in sustainable agriculture, and the many great role models I have. When I went back for my Ph.D., I decided to focus on the stories of some of these amazing women.
Women comprise over 30% of farmers practicing agriculture in the United States and are more likely to make conservation-minded choices than their male counterparts, according to a number of research studies. For sustainable agriculture practices to increase, though, we need to understand how women farmers learn the values and skills that shape their work.
In the fall of 2012, I interviewed five women who are permaculture designers and farmers practicing ecological agriculture in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I wanted to better understand their relationship to their lands, their perspective on their work, and how both dynamics manifest on their farms. The women in the study saw their work with their lands as a creative response to the socio-ecological crises of our times. Some additional patterns also showed up:
• All expressed an ethic of land care that came from a childhood experience in nature.
• All of the women mentioned feeling compelled to farm or garden; their work was a strong component of who they were, not just a job.
• The women all described a sense of paying attention to the land as an entity in its own right.
• All five women described some way in which working with the land had changed them or led them to question the way things were.
For all of the participants, a sense of ecological consciousness, patience, and humility had developed through their work. When asked what they hoped for, all of the women expressed their longing on societal terms rather than personal ones. For the women in my pilot, their work was about active hope for the world.
This winter I am beginning my dissertation research by widening the project to collect more stories from experienced women farmers. I want to know what transformational experiences – of land, community, and work – lead and sustain women farmers. My hope is that this research will lead to an increased awareness of stories of successful women farmers, and the growth of sustainable agriculture.
If you are a woman farmer in Minnesota, Michigan, or Wisconsin who has been farming organically or sustainably for at least 10 years, and would be interested in participating in this project, please contact me. All the work will happen this winter, with one small project and a farm visit in the summer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.