In Her Boots Workshop: Sustainable Agriculture for Women, by Women

Success Strategies from the Soil Sisters

Friday, August 3, 2018 | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

Raleigh’s Hillside Farm
901 N Marsh Road
Brodhead, Wis. 53520

 


Recap by Diahann Lohr, Adunate Word & Design

 

If the line up of vehicles is an indication of interest, the August session “Success Strategies from the Soil Sisters” was obviously a well-received event.  Presented by Lauren Rudersdorf of Raleigh’s Hillside Farm, an organic vegetable farm near of Brodhead, Wisconsin, the focus was toward hopeful and beginning farmers and more than 80 women attended.

 

Lauren gave an informative and authentic account of how she and her husband, Kyle, started their farm in 2013. She shared the progress they’ve made in the six years—they now supply food to 180 CSA subscribers and 15 area restaurants and schools—and some of their goals for the future. Lauren also presented ideas on marketing, including social media and her blog The Leek and The Carrot. Her energy and enthusiasm were contagious!

 

A number of women from a variety of organizations also shared their knowledge, including Soil Sisters Lisa Kivirist, Inn Serendipity; Dela Ends, Scotch Hill Farm & Innisfree Farmstay; Katy Dickson, Christensen Farm; Jen Riemer, Fiemer Family Farm; FL Morris Carpenter, Grassroots Farm LLC; and special guest Dr. Josie Rudolphi,  National Farm Medicine Center. Also women from Adunate Word & Design, AgrAbility, Angelic Organics Learning Center, FairShare CSA Coalition, Green County Economic Development Corporation, Green County Land and Water Conservation, National Farm Safety Center, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Wisconsin Farmers Union.

 

Here are five takeaways from the August 3 session:

 

  1. Harnessing Our Collective Powers
    Lauren repeatedly credited her parents’ generosity as an enabler to their success, including renting them acreage, allowing them use of their water and portions of their home. She shared how their first CSA subscribers were eight families or friends who enthusiastically supported their venture. She introduced us to fellow Soil Sister FL Morris Carpenter, who let them start seedlings in her hoop house and would not accept payment.


Harnessing our collective powers—our skills, experience, resources—is much better than trying to go it alone. Working together and supporting one another is the Soil Sisters’ mantra. It’s one everyone should adopt.

  1. Start Small, Stay Out of Debt
    Lauren and Kyle started their business with only eight CSA subscribers and a goal of not going into debt. During their first five years their subscribership grew but their debt did not. According to Lauren, this allowed them to learn the realities of farming and whether it’s what they really wanted to do, without financially locking themselves into it.
  1. Learn Who You Are, Be Who You Are
    Lauren described Kyle as quietly out in the fields and behind the scenes. With his soil science expertise and love of outdoors, he’s the workhorse of the farm. She herself is outgoing and social. She’s a perfect fit for marketing and hosting on-the-farm gatherings. Lauren and Kyle compliment one another well and have matched their roles accordingly.
  2. Surround Yourself With Positivity
    Sharing good food with positive, like-minded women is transformative, inspiring and motivating.
  3. Innovative Ideas
    Every time I attend a Soil Sisters’ tour or In Her Boots session, I come away with innovative ideas to use on my own land and I’m not even a farmer by avocation (yet!). Lauren’s canopied sweet potatoes are on my list for next year’s garden.

 

 

 

 

 

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