Women farmers creating new approaches to agriculture

Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service

SPRING VALLEY -  While the number of farms in the U.S. has been on the decline for many years, the number owned and operated by women is on the rise, according to the USDA Census of Agriculture.

Emily Harris of Wylymar Farms in Monroe, WI, will host an ‘In Her Boots’ workshop June 21, sharing her experience, advice and insight with women looking to start their own farm operations.

The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) supports these women farmers with on-farm “In Her Boots” workshops; the first workshop of the 2018 season is Thursday, June 21 at Wylymar Farms, an organic dairy in Monroe, Wis., run by farmers Emily and Brandi Harris.

This day-long workshop offers an inspiring blend of practical information, skill-building, resource connections and networking to encourage this growing segment of women farmers, entrepreneurs, and agricultural leaders. This session in particular will also cover ergonomics and machinery use for women; farmer Emily Harris was trained in Navy mechanic school and will share details about the tractors and other equipment she uses on her farm.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to share our farming story to help promote and support women in agriculture and educate on what’s happening in the dairy industry,” explained Harris, a fourth-generation farmer who is now running her own dairy operation since 2010 and certified organic. The Harrises milk 50 Jersey cows, care for 105 cows, and sell their milk to area cheese factories.

“Emily Harris is an inspiring example of this new movement of women farmers committed to collaboratively supporting each other,” shared Cara Carper, head of the Green County Economic Development Corporation (GCDC). “We’re excited that this ‘In Her Boots’ session will be in Green County and will showcase this growing movement of women farmers creating new approaches to agriculture and how these innovative entrepreneurs positively impact our local communities and are committed to keeping our region’s agricultural heritage vibrant.”

Various resources will be available at the workshop from the GCDC, MOSES, Wisconsin Farmers Union, FairShare CSA Coalition, and the National Farm Medicine Center. The workshop will also cover a new opportunity for farmers to create additional income by selling non-hazardous baked goods made in home kitchens, now legal in Wisconsin thanks to a judge’s ruling in October 2017.

The “In Her Boots” workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes lunch and a farm tour. Cost is $25; space is limited and pre-registration required. To register, see mosesorganic.org/june-21 or call the MOSES office at 715-778-5775. If you have questions about the workshops, contact Lisa Kivirist, project coordinator, at lisa@mosesorganic.org or 608-329-7056 (farm office).

Two additional “In Her Boots” workshops are scheduled for later this summer: July 26 at Humble Hands Harvest, a market farm in Decorah, IA, and Aug. 3 at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm, a market farm in Brodhead, WI.

“In Her Boots workshops are based on the idea that women learn best from each other in a format where we can ask questions and mentor and inspire one another,” explained Lisa Kivirist, coordinator of the MOSES In Her Boots Project and author of Soil Sisters:  A Toolkit for Women Farmers. “Whether you’re a seasoned female farmer or are just starting to bring your farm dream to life, this is a great opportunity to learn from and connect with other women who share a commitment to stewarding the land.”