National Farmers Union’s Women in Agriculture conference ended last week, and New England Farmers Union Membership and Administrative Coordinator Emma Sabella reports the event, held in Clearwater, FL, was informative and inspiring.

Emma Sabella at Dancing Goat Farm
Emma Sabella at Dancing Goat Farm

Kriss Marion of Circle M Market Farm in Blanchardville, WI, shared her story about how she built a network of strong women in agriculture in her community and transformed policy. She did this through, “making a movement one potluck at a time.” She, along with three other women in her community, started having potluck dinners to share ideas and support one another. The potlucks grew over time to 10 women, then 20, and now over 300 people are participating in these social events throughout south central Wisconsin.

Lisa Shirek of Painted Rock Farms presented on Innovative Business Models. She shared her business success story of her Heritage Animal Farm Collective. She stared with one small farm and now the collective includes 22 family farms, nearly 70 percent of them owned and operated by women.

Conference attendees also took tours of Florida farms, visiting Dancing Goat Farm, a mini-dairy in urban Tampa. Pam Lunn owns the farm and produces goat milk; goat yoghurt; goat kefir; chicken, duck and quail eggs; and a luxurious goat milk soap.

They toured winery Keel and Curly of Plant City. Joe Keel, a central Florida blueberry farmer, started the winery in spring of 2003. He wanted to find something to do with his end of crop blueberries and decided blueberry wine would be interesting. He started with 10 gallons of blueberry wine and kept tinkering until he found the path to a delicious fermented beverage.

Sweet Water Organic Communtiy Farm in Tampa was established in 1995 as a nonprofit community-supported urban organic farm and environmental education center. The group operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Membership program, Sweetwater Sunday Farmers’ Market and Music Series, educational field trip programs for visiting groups, farm tours, workshops, outdoor movies, seasonal events, and volunteer opportunities.

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