By Lisa Kivirist, Endowed Chair at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, author of Soil Sisters

Just as we farmers need to care for our soil, we also need to nurture our minds and plant new idea seeds to shape a healthy business vision. That’s exactly what’s on the menu for women farmers at this year’s National Farmers Union Women’s Conference March 3-5, 2017 at the Catamaran Resort in sunny San Diego, just before National Farmers Union 115th Anniversary Convention. This one-of-a-kind event brings together fellow female Farmers Union members from across the country for an inspiring, intense dose of resources, information, and – most importantly – collaborative connections and idea sharing with an amazing group of women.

Need more reasons to join me and other women from across the country for this inspiring kickoff to your spring season? Here are ten to get us started:

  1. Harvest national perspectives

National Farmers Union Women’s Conference gathers women from around the nation, bringing a diversity of perspectives, geography, business models, crops and life stories to the table, from beginning female farmers to seasoned growers. With a conference theme of “Shaping the Future,” this gathering will celebrate and amplify the powerful, positive collaborative message of women in agriculture.

  1. Expert speaker line-up

National Farmers Union will bring together an inspiring line-up of authoritative speakers and facilitators to the stage. From Bridget Holcomb, executive director of the Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN) to Audra Mulkern, founder of The Female Farmer Project, the conference agenda blends big-picture thinking with practical ideas for your farm operation.

  1. Network and connect

Sharing our stories and strengthening women farmer connections remains the core what this annual Women’s Conference is all about.  It’s the inspiring new friendships along with rekindled connections that we remember most. To foster such networking, the conference opens with a “Soil Sisters:  Shaping our Connections” session on the evening of Friday, March 3, hosted by my fellow female farmer friends with the Wisconsin Farmers Union.  Even if you arrive not knowing anyone, I guarantee you’ll head home with a new sisterhood of kindred farming spirits.

  1. Take home the Soil Sisters book

Bonus: National Farmers Union will be giving copies of my book, Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers, to all conference registrants. Lots of Farmers Union love in those pages, exemplifying our cooperative spirit with over 100 women contributing ideas and inspiration to the book.

  1. Incredible value

All this for just $75? As we say in Wisconsin, you betcha! Big thanks to the conference sponsors for their support to create such an affordable conference opportunity.

  1. Expand your farm vision

Getting off the farm and connecting with other farmers, especially women sharing our commitment for the Farmers Union, adds a dose of fresh ideas and perspectives to our farm businesses more potent than any compost. Return home renewed, refreshed and ready to take on the upcoming growing season. The speaker line-up covers pragmatic business topics with a team of seasoned experts. For example, Madeline Schultz, a national leader for Annie’s Project, will cover “Business Planning 101” and Poppy Davis, an authoritative voice in agricultural business and policy issues affecting family-scale farmers and ranchers, will talk cash flow and credit.

  1. Kick-off Convention

If you’re coming to San Diego for the National Farmers Union Convention, the Women’s Conference is an easy-add on the day prior. And for those new to Convention, consider staying on immediately after the Women’s Conference to experience the cooperative model on a national level with fellow NFU members.

  1. Small group conference setting

The NFU Women’s Conference is intentionally a smaller gathering under one hundred women, a setting where we can really get to know each other, ask questions and share. With limited spots open, be sure to register now.

  1. Renew and refresh

Reboot for spring with morning fitness classes with Kriss Marion of Circle M Market Farm in Wisconsin. Kriss is a fellow farmer from my Wisconsin farmhood, and I can personally attest that Kriss’s classes provide a needed positive reminder to prioritize our physical health to keep farming successfully into the future.

  1. San Diego. Beach.  Fun. 

65 degree average day time temperature. Two blocks to the beach. No quilt-lined Carhartt Arctic anything in site. The only ice you see will be in your drink. Do you really need more convincing?

NFU’s Women’s Conference will amplify the voice of women in agriculture, our commitment to family farms, and healthy rural communities and plant collaborative vision seeds for the future.  Look forward to seeing you in San Diego!

Lisa Kivirist is an Endowed Chair at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and leads the Rural Women’s Project, a woman-farmer training initiative of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). She is the author of Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers, along with Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance, and was named by In Business Magazine as a “Woman of Industry” for leadership growing the women in sustainable agriculture movement. Lisa and her family run the award-winning Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Wisconsin, completely powered by the wind and sun. Lisa serves as treasurer of the Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter and leads Soil Sisters:  A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms and Rural Life, a project of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

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