On a rainy September day, aspiring and beginning women farmers gathered in western Iowa for a day of networking, resource sharing, and farm tours.
Participants ranged in age, background, and vision of farming and being good food advocates. One participant sought more information on managing her family’s farmland while also making connections to support her daughter, a beginning farmer, while two other women have been gathering resources and hands-on experience to help them decide if and how they want to farm in the future.
The Harvesting Our Potential Learning Circle provided resources and connections attendees will be able to use as they move forward with their farm dreams. The energy, excitement, and conversations throughout the day provided affirmation that connecting women through events like this are needed.
“Watching these aspiring and beginning women farmers network with and learn from seasoned farmers was an awesome experience. There was so much knowledge shared throughout the day,” said Wren Almitra, WFAN’s Women, Land and Legacy Coordinator who facilitated the learning circle. “Diversification was a key part of the conversation during the morning and on the afternoon farm tours. All of the resource professionals and women farmers shared the importance of diversified markets and biodiversity in growing strong farms.”
Stay tuned for details on 2018 HOP Learning Circles and mentorship opportunities through our email list here.
Mentorship & Networking
The afternoon included discussion and farm tours led by Jayme Fowler, Wild Furrow Farm; Amber Mohr, Fork Tail Farm; and Denise O’Brien, Rolling Acres Farm. The farmers represented a range of experience, from Jayme’s first year farming solo to Denise’s long career in fruit and vegetable production and her farm partner Amber’s operation, which is in its fifth year.
Jayme was candid about her experience, and let the women in the room know that it’s not only okay to adapt your farm plan— it’s necessary. “Your first year on the land you’re really trying to understand the weed pressure and wet spots.” The observations you make might drastically change your plans or be different from what you’ve experienced working on farms.
Denise shared her favorite books with the group, including Sustainable Market Farming by Pam Dawling, The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman, The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier, The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman, and The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski. She also highly recommends the Growing for Market publication, which comes out 11 times a year.
Free Resources from WFAN:
- WFAN email newsletters include stories and advice from women in food and ag. Subscribe here!
- Check out our video library for recordings on a variety of topics, including conservation practices and women’s leadership development. Browse videos here.
- Read our publications on topics ranging from soil health to fence laws. Download publications here.