Women in Sustainable Ag Conference Soliciting Workshop Proposals

WISAC2010 022

2010 Women in Sustainable Ag Confernece

The 5th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture is calling for workshop proposal ideas that will build a rich program for attendees. The conference will take place November 30-December 2, 2016, in Portland, OR. The conference theme is Making Connections Toward Resiliency.

This conference brings together farmers, educators, technical assistance providers, and activists engaged in healthy food and farming to share educational and organization strategies, build technical and business skills, and address policy issues aimed at expanding the success of women farmers and ranchers.

All proposals must be submitted electronically at  by 11:59 p.m. PST March 31, 2016.

Sessions will be 60 or 90 minutes in length. We are seeking a variety of formats, including one-speaker sessions, joint presentations, panels combining farmers, service providers, and activists, and group discussion round tables. Participatory formats encouraged. You may be asked to modify your submission or combine your workshop with another. Expect approximately 25-40 attendees per session. We are seeking presentations and workshops in the following tracks:

Crop Mob participantsTrack 1: Grow (production topics): workshops that share results of on-farm research, relay proven strategies, and/or provide “how-to” information.

Track 2: Sow (business planning, diversification, financial topics): workshops designed to help begin and maintain successful farms and rural businesses. We are particularly interested in interactive, hands-on workshops that will engage participants. Indicate the experience level most appropriate for this workshop (e.g., beginners, intermediate or experienced).

Blog July08 5Track 3: Reap (food systems development, policy, advocacy): workshops developing leadership capacity and skills for women farmers and healthy food systems advocates from the farm house to the White House. Provide opportunities for participants to acquire information, leadership and organizing skills they need to be effective participants in policy development at the local, state and federal levels.

Track 4: Repeat: (sustainability and transition, maintaining a healthy balance, farm transfer/transition, mentoring).us corn

Don’t see a category for your idea? Please submit it anyway. A variety of topics that are relevant to women in sustainable agriculture will be considered. A planning committee will review all proposals. Submission of a proposal is not a guarantee of acceptance. Notification of your proposal status will be provided by June 1, 2016.

Presenters will receive a reduction in the conference registration fee. A limited amount of scholarship and travel stipend funding may be available.

For more information, contact program committee co-chair Mary Peabody at mary.peabody@uvm.edu.

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What’s in a Name? Farmer, Rancher, Grower…and more!

A royalty free image from the farming industry of a farmer couple using a tablet computer.

[Note: I first wrote this article almost twenty years ago. Recent discussions I’ve been following in various groups prompted me to dig it out and brush it off for a new generation.]



“When will I be a farmer?”

Mother and son on horsebackI get asked this question fairly often. It often means either “When should I start filing a farm income tax form?” or “When will I be accepted and identified in my community as a farmer?” or sometimes, “When will my inlaws start taking me seriously?” Depending on the circumstances the answers are often similar. There is no magic formula or right-of-passage that will transform you into a “farmer”.

Language is a powerful tool. It can be used to unite or it can divide and promote conflict. For example, historically there have been divisions created between eastern farmers (who cultivate the land) and western ranchers (who graze livestock). Agricultural policies have, at various times, tended to favor one group over the other creating categories of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, setting up regional rivalries and emphasizing differences rather than the similarities.

woman, barn and cowLikewise in the northeast the term ‘farmer’ is often used to describe those who have livestock while the term ‘grower’ is more commonly used to describe those whose primary crops are fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants. As for greenhouses, gardens, orchards, vineyards and agricultural tourism – we have a lot of descriptive titles for the stewards of these businesses, all of which serve to create special niches and delineate specializations in our agricultural industries. And then we have production system labels such as organic, sustainable, and conventional that, are too frequently used to divide rather than to unite.

In a time when less than 2% of the US population is identified as farmers and ranchers, maybe we need to welcome all those who are willing to be counted and let the market determine the rest.

woman on fence drinking waterSo, how about this?

  • You are a farmer when a bad year requires you to make some hard choices about your lifestyle and your business.
  • You are a rancher when you accept that more production variables are out of your control than within it and you choose to continue anyway.
  • You are a grower when you take pride in the quality, freshness and health of your product and when you know your customers have made a wise decision in choosing to do business with you.
  • You are a farmer/rancher/grower when someone refers to you as a farmer/rancher/grower and that causes you to stand straighter and feel proud.
  • You are a farmer when you know, in your heart, that no other profession will fit you as well.
  • You are a farmer when you choose to accept the title.

To all of you who are farmers/ranchers/growers…welcome! May your career choice bring you joy for 100 years.

And in the spirit ongoing learning, I’d love to hear what name you give yourself and your profession? Please share!!

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Name that Conference!

Calling all brilliant, creative women farmers, ranchers and sustainable agriculture advocates: 2013 Women in Ag ConferenceSubmit a super theme, tagline and/or logo for the 2016 Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference. The conference will be held in Portland Oregon, and is being organized by a multi-state team led by Oregon State University.

Your theme, tagline and/or logo should reflect the multi-faceted role women play in sustainable agriculture, and honor the Northwest character.

Inspiration could come from the city of Portland, the diversity of women farmers, or the crops for which we are known!

The winner(s) will get bragging rights, the opportunity to promote their farm through our conference, media and marketing materials, AND a full scholarship for registration to the Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference to be held November 30-December 2, 2016 in Portland.

Email your submission or questions to Outreach Committee chair Ariel Agenbroad at ariel@uidaho.edu. We can’t wait to see what you share!



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