By Lisa Kivirist

Just as we farmers 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, January 15-18, 2018, at the Catamaran Report in San Diego, California. 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 women from across the country for this inspiring kick off to your 2018 season? Here are ten to get us started:

  1. Cultivate your leadership mission

With a conference theme of “Women in Leadership,” this gathering will celebrate and amplify the powerful, positive collaborative message of women in agriculture. Hear first-hand stories about running for office from fellow Farmers Union women like Sarah Lloyd, who recently ran for Congress in the WI-6th Congressional District. Dive into a behind-the-scenes perspective on how myself and two fellow Wisconsin Farmers Union members, Kriss Marion and Dela Ends, successfully sued the state to lift the ban on the sale of homemade baked goods. In our rapidly changing world, what leadership roles do we as women need to take charge on? Come discover your place at this table.

  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. Whether you run an operation with hundreds of acres or are just starting out on a postcard small plot, come celebrate and learn from the NFU spirit of collaboration and sharing.

  1. Expert speaker line-up

National Farmers Union will bring together an inspiring line-up of authoritative speakers and facilitators to the stage. From Liz Johnson, co-founder and board member of VoteRunLead, to Sarah Campbell, Stakeholder Engagement Specialist for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), to yours truly, author of Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers, 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. Ready to cultivate new women farmer connections once you return home to your farm-hood? Kriss Marion of Circle M Market Farm and I will be sharing tips and ideas from how we grew our local women’s network in our Wisconsin community, today over 180 women strong and leading “Soil Sisters: A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms and Rural Life,” now the largest women farmer-led farm event of it’s kind in the nation.

  1. Take home the Homemade for Sale book

Bonus: National Farmers Union will be giving copies of my book, Homemade for Sale: How to Set Up and Market a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen, to all conference registrants. We’ll be digging deeper into ideas for value-added products in your home kitchen under cottage food law as well as other means to diversify, such as farm stays and farm-to-table dinners.

  1. Incredible value

All this, a four-day conference, for just $125? 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-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 “Women’s Roles in Farm and Ranch Transition Planning,” and Poppy Davis, an authoritative voice in agricultural business and policy issues affecting family-scale farmers and ranchers, will talk farm business structure and taxes.

  1. Small group conference setting

Women’s Conference is intentionally a smaller gathering of fewer than 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. Tour area farms

With a day dedicated to touring innovative growing operations in the San Diego area, harvest new ideas and marketing approaches, no matter what climate zone you may be heading home to.

  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?

This Women’s Conference will once again 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 – register here if you haven’t already!

Lisa Kivirist and her family run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Wisconsin, completely powered by the wind and sun. Lisa is a Senior Fellow, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, author of the award-winning Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers, and co-author of Homemade for SaleFarmstead ChefECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance with her husband, John Ivanko. She leads Soil Sisters: A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms and Rural Life, a project of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and now the largest women farmer-run event of its kind in the country. A national advocate for cottage food entrepreneurs, Lisa served as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state that declared the ban on the sale of home baked goods unconstitutional. She now runs Inn Serendipity Fresh Bakes from her farmstead, offering holiday cookies, Baltic rye bread, and lots of treats with the farm’s bumper pumpkin crop. She serves as Treasurer of Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter.

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