Eighteen months into the pandemic many group gatherings, including farm tours, continue to be postponed or altered. So instead of having an audience come to the farm, we’ve brought the farm to you, including filmed conversations with members of a producer organization called Women in Local Food and Farming. This alternative farm tour is available as a video on the Center for Rural Affairs’ YouTube channel.
For half an hour, you’ll get to learn more about why and how this southeast Nebraska group came to be, plus get to know five of its members as they talk us through their own farm operations and what Women in Local Food and Farming means to them.
The group’s mission statement calls for women to support women to improve our local food systems and sustainable farms. During the farm tour, you’ll see many examples that contribute to the overall impact of a supportive peer-to-peer environment.
From educating each other and the public to learning from mistakes, organizing events, helping with projects and systems, and having positive moral support when it's needed the most, they have found that many barriers can be overcome by working together.
In their own words:
“I’m just so glad people took the initiative to make this happen,” said Katie Jantzen. “And this can happen in other ways too, with other groups, it just takes a few people that want to get something started.”
“Being a part of this group has just been such an encouragement to keep going,” said Alicia Schroeder, treasurer of the group. She noted that that applies to everything from flooding to the day-to-day balance of raising a young family while also running a farm business.
“You’re going to make a lot of mistakes and that’s okay,” said President Lainey Johnson of advice she might give to her earlier self. “And you can just learn from them, and there’s always next year.”
“We’ve got lots of fun ideas, but I’ve learned lots of lessons from this group, and that is to take it slow and do one thing at a time until you have a good handle on that, and then add on new areas to explore,” said Megan Nelson.
“This group gives women the social empowerment to get out and get their hands dirty and take on the challenges,” said Rose Munderloh, secretary. “It’s wonderful to have other women to share these experiences with, and it’s very empowering. We really like to share the sustainable women-led ideas that we all really hold dear.”
Rose described three components that Women in Local Food and Farming would like to include as part of the dream conference they hope to hold in the future.
- Education: How to participate in the food system (growing/turning crops into food).
- Finances: Money can be a barrier.
- Social aspect: Conceptions about gender in farming can be a barrier if everyone thinks all farmers are guys.
To learn more, watch the video and follow the links and contact information.
Funding for this project has been provided by the Beginning Farmer Rancher & Development Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
We would also like to thank our partners at Practical Farmers of Iowa.