NFU Women’s Conference

San Diego, CA | January 14-18, 2018

Women in Leadership

NFU’s 2019 Women’s Conference will prepare attendees and their operations for their own future in many areas, including business planning, succession planning, running for local office, networking, telling their own stories, innovative marketing, and much more. NFU hopes to provide attendees with both a network of female producers that they can reach out to throughout the year as well as important tools that will help set their operations up for a future of success.

We are very excited about the conference and hope you can join us January 13-17, 2019 in San Diego California! The conference will be held at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa – book online here, or call 858-488-1081 and let the hotel know that you are with the NFU Women’s Conference for discounted room rates.

Registration: $125

Room Rate: $179 per night, please reserve before December 13, 2018

If you would like to share a room with another attendee please email NFU4@NFUDC.ORG

Check out last year’s agenda, and read more about the 2018 featured speakers below!

Conference Speakers

Iris Gardner

Primeval Gardens is a small Certified Naturally Grown farm that sells the highest quality produce to local families and restaurants in the San Diego area. The farm was started by Iris and Jason Gardner back in 2009 after they purchased an 18 acre property in rural San Diego county. Jason spent much of his time on a deployment to Afghanistan carefully planning out the details and when he returned home from the rigorous deployment he and Iris got straight to work. Jason is currently on active duty with the US Navy and has been deployed to four different combat zones over 10 deployments, with 28 years of service. He has earned a Silver Star, Bronze star with valor, purple heart, and numerous other personal awards. He still loves his job and loves serving his country but takes great satisfaction in farming in his spare time. Iris is a full-time farmer and mom and holds things together while Jason is deployed. Iris brings years of farming and gardening experience and a great love for the outdoors and a strong desire to provide one of our most fundamental necessities, fresh local food, to the team. The farm is in an arid region and Jason and Iris utilize many permaculture techniques to maximize their farms output in the dry climate. They work hard to ensure that the produce they are providing is absolute top-quality and never has any chemicals on or near it. They also teach gardening classes and Jason makes hand-crafted soaps. Jason and Iris have several children and have experienced the challenged of farming with young kids. They take great pride in the quality of food that they produce and the knowledge that they are able to share to inspire more future farmers and gardeners. They are part of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and are certified under the Homegrown By Heroes label.


Sara Wat

Sara Wat is the Community Health Specialist at CalAgrAbility. She graduated from University of California at Davis with a Biological Systems Engineering degree. Her current work includes outreaching to farming populations including veterans and beginning farmers in California. Sara collaborates in developing educational materials focused on farmer health, safety and preventing secondary injury. She has connected farmers with adaptive equipment that has enabled them to farm efficiently and safely.


Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Smith owns Champoeg Creamery, a raw milk micro-dairy located in St. Paul, Oregon, producing raw milk, eggs, pork and poultry.

After witnessing too many farmers going out of business due to not being financially sustainable, she also founded, an online marketing training company helping farmers across the nation learn online marketing techniques to grow a successful business. Additionally, she hosts “The Profitable Farm with Charlotte Smith” private Facebook group, a community of farmers focused on connecting with others to learn, share and gain support.

Due to her dedication to improving the soil, animals and the people who eat their products, In 2016 Charlotte was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women in the World in Food and Agriculture by the non-profit, Food Tank. Charlotte is also the proud mother of a United States Marine, lives in St. Paul, Oregon on the farm with her husband, Marc, (a teacher) and her 2 daughters.

You can visit Charlotte at or inside “The Profitable Farm with Charlotte Smith” Facebook Group.


Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson is a co-founder and board member at VoteRunLead, a national organization that supports the aspirations of women who want to transform our country and democracy through their participation as leaders. As a former Director of Community and Operations at VRL and Director of Rural Programs at The White House Project, Liz has worked with countless women leaders to inspire, inform and equip them to pursue positions of influence and elective office. A leader in the design and implementation of training programs for rural women, Liz trains women in agriculture, natural resources and food systems with Plate to Politics, a program of the Women Food and Agriculture Network. Her work is characterized by an asset-based approach. She is a board member for the Hmong American Farmers Association, First Witness Child Advocacy Center and the Duluth Forest Commission. She is a past recipient of the Minnesota Women’s Press Change Maker Award. Liz is currently a Senior Manager at the Amercian Lung Association where her policy change work with local and state public health and communtity leaders spans seven counties of Northeast Minnesota. She loves living in Duluth next to the largest freshwater lake in the world.

Esther Lin

Esther is a part of the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Outreach Office. In this position, she supports the Farm Service Agency’s strategic outreach and engagement of beginning, military veteran, and Asian American and Pacific Islander farmers and ranchers. Her work includes developing tools and resources that help field employees engage new audiences, and building partnerships across Federal, State, and community partners to ensure equal access to USDA programs. Esther is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Sarah Campbell

Sarah is a part of the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Outreach Office. She supports the Farm Service Agency’s strategic outreach and stakeholder engagement around organic farming, local and regional foods, urban agriculture and women in agriculture. Her work includes developing tools and resources that help field employees engage new audiences, and building partnerships across Federal, State, and community partners to ensure equal access to USDA programs. She also works on several cross agency initiatives including the Local and Regional Foods Working Group, the Urban Agriculture Working Group and the USDA Women in Ag Initiative. She is a graduate of Guilford College and has an MS in Community Development from UC Davis. She resides in West River, Maryland where she raises livestock and sells pasture based meats on her family farm.


Lisa Kivirist

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 and is the author of the award-winning book, Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers and co-author of Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance with her husband, John Ivanko. She leads the annual event, 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 Kivirist served as a plaintiff in the successful 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.

Kriss Marion

Kriss Marion is a first-generation farmer in Blanchardville, Wisconsin, and president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter. She serves on the Lafayette County Tourism board and the Blanchardville Woman’s Club.

Though she’s not a dairy farmer, she gets up at 4am every morning to teach Boot Camp in the high school gym at 4:45am or greets the sun in a nearby goat barn where she practices Ashtanga Yoga. Her Circle M Market Farm features a vegetable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), field-to-table dinners, poultry, livestock, a bed and breakfast, fiber arts, and a variety of classes—including fitness!


Madeline Schultz

Madeline Schultz is the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Program Manager. In this role, she works to develop educational programs, increase connections among women in agriculture, build the professional capacity of educators, and steward funding in order to help women improve their lives and contribute to national food security. Madeline coordinates Iowa’s Annie’s Project courses. She contributed leadership to Annie’s Project nationally from 2008 to 2015. After farming in Illinois for 20 years, Madeline began her career with Extension by joining Iowa State University’s Value Added Agriculture Program in 2003. At Iowa State University, Schultz earned her Bachelor of Science degrees in Agribusiness and Economics in 2003 and the Master of Business Administration degree in 2007. Madeline continues to support her family’s farm businesses and enjoys watching her daughter grow her dairy farm business, her two older sons grow their custom forage harvesting business, and her two younger sons grow their livestock trucking business.

Poppy Davis

Poppy Davis teaches and advises on agricultural business and policy issues affecting family-scale farmers and ranchers and community interests in healthy food and farming systems. She provides training and technical assistance on a variety of agricultural business issues including business formation, land tenure, credit, cash flow, taxation, legal liability, including regulatory compliance, and marketing.  She is the Director of Entrepreneurship at the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas Law School and has ongoing affiliations with several agricultural training programs across the country. She worked eight years at the USDA, most recently as the National Program Leader for Small Farms and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Previously she was a California CPA with an emphasis in agricultural enterprises and non-profits. She holds a Juris Doctor with a Certificate in Food and Agriculture from Drake University Law School, a Masters in Journalism from Georgetown, and a BS in Agricultural Economics from the University of California at Davis.

Barbara Patterson

As Government Relations Director for National Farmers Union, Barbara Patterson advocates for family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in Congress and the executive branch. Her focus is on trade, livestock, competition, cooperatives, nutrition, and food safety. Patterson also manages a cooperative agreement with the Food and Drug Administration to provide education and outreach to local food producers and processors on food safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Prior to her employment with NFU, Patterson worked as a policy associate for New England Farmers Union. Patterson advocated on behalf of small and mid-size farmers on food safety and environmental issues. She also analyzed co-operative development statutes and contributed to a co-operative manual to foster strategic development in New England. Patterson graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and recently graduated with a Master of Science in Agriculture and Nutrition Policy from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Sarah Lloyd

Sarah Lloyd is the Special Projects Coordinator for the Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Secretary of the Board and Director of Development for the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative. In addition to her off-farm work Sarah helps her husband Nels Nelson on the Nelson family dairy farm outside Wisconsin Dells. Sarah has a PhD in Rural Sociology and co-teaches the Agriculture, Food Systems, & Rural Development course in the UW Farm Industry Short Course. She is the President of the Columbia County Farmers Union and also serves on the Board of the Wormfarm Institute, the Reedsburg organization working at the intersection of arts and agriculture, featuring the Fermentation Fest and the Farm/Art Dtour. Sarah is the Co-Chair of Our Wisconsin Revolution, the state affiliate of Our Revolution that came out of the Bernie Sanders Campaign. Sarah recently completed a three-year term on the National Dairy Board and served in an elected positions on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing board and the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. In 2016 Sarah ran for Congress in the WI-6th Congressional District.

The NFU’s Women’s Conference is co-hosted with our friends from Farmer Veteran Coalition!

A special thank you to sponsors of NFU’s Women’s Conference!

And thank you to our promotional partners!