Governor Scott Walker officially declares the week of July 27 through Aug. 2, 2015 “Wisconsin Women in Sustainable & Organic Agriculture Week.”
MOSES Rural Women’s Project Awarded “Top Rural Development Initiative”
The MOSES Rural Women’s Project received a “Top Rural Development Initiative Award” from Wisconsin Rural Partners, a network hub for organizations, government agencies and people working to make rural Wisconsin a better place.
While the number of women farmers increased nearly 30 percent according to the last US Census of Agriculture, few resources exist to support this movement, particularly for women launching small-scale, sustainable operations with a goal of growing healthy, seasonal food for their local community. Not any more. The Rural Women’s Project, a venture of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), uniquely champions these women farmers and recently received a 2012 Top Rural Development Initiative Award from Wisconsin Rural Partners on behalf of the program’s innovative approaches to women farmer training and outreach.
“Since the MOSES Rural Women’s Project (RWP) launched in 2009, we’ve connected with and trained over 1,000 women farmers, the vast majority of which are beginning and young farmers,” explains Faye Jones, Executive Director of MOSES, a grassroots non-profit organization based in Spring Valley, Wis., dedicated to supporting organic and sustainable agriculture. “It’s an honor for MOSES to receive this award and to showcase the amazing movement and mission of women farmers both in Wisconsin and across the country that are committed to stewarding the landscape and raising healthy food that positively affects our rural areas.”
“These Top Rural Development Initiative awards are designed to identify, highlight, and share innovative models, practices and programs that have a positive impact on rural Wisconsin communities and to provide a mechanism for rural communities to learn from each other,” adds Rick Rolfsmeyer, Executive Director of Wisconsin Rural Partners (WRP). Wisconsin Rural Partners is a statewide non-profit organization that develops leadership, networks and voice for rural regions and is the federally recognized State Rural Development Council for Wisconsin. “The MOSES Rural Women’s Project exemplifies the heartbeat of what keeps Wisconsin’s rural areas vibrant by supporting new entrepreneurs who not only want to run successful businesses in rural areas but see their ventures, in this case women-owned farms, as a platform to transform and improve the health of our communities.”
The Rural Women’s Project runs a variety of programs to facilitate collaboration and support the growing number of women starting farms and food-based businesses, strengthening local food systems and building committed, engaged partnerships with other non-profits and agencies such as the Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN). Three key rural Wisconsin projects include the “In Her Boots: Sustainable Farming for Women By Women,” on-farm training series, “Women Caring for the Land” conservation training for women landowners and the Soil Sisters: South Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture Farm Tour through support from a variety of sources including USDA Risk Management and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE). “Plate to Politics,” a partnership project with WFAN, encourages and supports women farmers to take on community leadership roles promoting healthy food system change.
“Each of these initiatives came to life based on the collaborative networking and peer driven model that women farmers learn best from each other,” shares Lisa Kivirist, founder and coordinator of the RWP. Kivirist and her family also run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B outside Monroe, Wisconsin, and she is the co-author of Farmstead Chef, Rural Renaissance and ECOpreneuring. “A strong segment of women farmers share a commitment to education and supporting the sustainable and organic agriculture movement. Creating settings such as our all-day In Her Boots workshop on women-owned farms facilitates connections and sharing of knowledge, resources and connections. Women farmers, particularly rural women growers, often feel isolated and alone. The RWP helps create a bridge among women in the movement.”
“Lisa Kivirist exemplifies this collaborative spirit of women farmers today who see their farm business as much more than just a job or a paycheck; it’s a passionate calling that is driven by a desire to truly transform our food system and increase healthy food access for future generations,” adds Jones. “Lisa’s leadership and vision creates connections and opportunities for women farmers that never existed before in our state’s rural communities, particularly for young and beginning growers who are drawn to her positive energy for championing new farm business start-ups.”
“A key strength of Wisconsin’s rural communities has always been our commitment to collaboration and supporting each other,’ sums up Dennis Deery, Vice-President of Wisconsin Rural Partners. “This is the thirteenth year that Wisconsin Rural Partner’s has presented the state’s Top Rural Development Initiatives and the MOSES Rural Women’s Project continues this dedication to stewarding our countryside for generations to come.”