WFAN is a community of women in sustainable agriculture.

Our mission is to engage women in building an ecological and just food and agricultural system through individual and community power. Read More.

Denise O’Brien


Denise O’Brien, WFAN’s founder, worked in agriculture long before she co-founded the Women Food and Agriculture Network in 1997. She has farmed in southwest Iowa for 37 years with her husband Larry Harris, and operated a CSA farm called Rolling Acres that includes three acres of fruits and vegetables and six acres of apples. She also raises organic chickens and turkeys.

Denise grew up in Atlantic, IA, graduated from high school there, and then went on to attend the University of Iowa and Creighton University. In addition to farming, she has been involved with community volunteering and policy work in the agricultural sector. Denise lobbied with the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, directed the Rural Women’s Leadership Development Project of PrairieFire Rural Action, Inc. and was president of the National Family Farm Coalition.

O’Brien has served on numerous advisory boards with the Community Food Security Coalition, the Farm to School Council, and the Iowa Women’s Foundation to name a few. She was a W.F.Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow from 2001-2003. From 2011 to 2012, Denise was a USDA advisor in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

For all her hard work Denise has received awards like the 2005 Practical Farmers of Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Iowa Farmer’s Union and the Athena Award from the Atlantic, Iowa Chamber of Commerce. In 2000 Denise was inducted into Iowa’s Women’s Hall of Fame.

On her life work Denise says, “My life has been devoted to raising women’s voices in agriculture. My dream is that the landscape of industrialized agriculture will change as women become the decision makers on their land. To that end I will devote my time on this earth to women, prairie restoration and seed saving.”

To further her vision, Denise speaks at conferences and events on topics like women and agriculture policy, organic agriculture, practical approaches to organic farming, women’s relationship to the land, sustainable living, food security and international perspectives on women in agriculture.

If you would like Denise to speak at your event please click here to email her or call her at 712-249-3197.

PO Box 611
Ames, IA 50010
Phone: (515) 460-2477