A Toolkit for Female Farmers | Living the Country Life
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A Toolkit for Female Farmers

In her new book, "Soil Sisters: a Toolkit for Women Farmers," Lisa Kivirist shares and celebrates farming for women, by women. Here are some of her favorite tips.
  • Soil Sisters

    Lisa Kivirist’s book gives a how-to guide for women wishing to bring their own agricultural business ideas to life. It condenses information from women farmers from across the U.S. and is committed to sustainable agriculture to champion female farmers and entrepreneurs. As the number of women starting farms is higher than ever before, it’s important to provide practical information from a rare viewpoint: that of the female farmer. 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 1. Innovate

    "Women farmers naturally cultivate creativity in our operations," says Kivirist. "Doing things your own way, like offering home delivery, on-farm classes, or raising a specialty crop like lavender might be untapped opportunities."

    What are ways you can do things differently that both express yourself and help you to distinguish your business? 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 2. Educate

    Use your farm as a platform to share your passion for country living and teaching others. Kivirist says that Cathy Linn-Thorstenson of Wise Acres outside Charlotte, North Carolina, runs a u-pick organic strawberry farm and uses it as a teaching opportunity. She offers for-sale snacks that kids would find tasty and appealing, but instead of the expected bright pink and chemical filled cotton candy, she does things like spin straight sugar so it is naturally white. "This gives her a yummy opportunity to talk about how her cotton candy is different and why we don’t need to add artificial elements to our foods," says Kivirist. 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 3. Add Agritourism

    If you love to host and welcome people to your farm, make that part of your business plan! "As the public increasingly seeks ways to get out on farms, there is a wide range of farm diversification ideas to do just that," says Kivirist. From renting out extra farmhouse rooms as a “farm bed & breakfast” to offering farm-to-table meal events, you can gain business while giving the public a wanted retreat. 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 4. Think Cottage Food

    "Have you ever baked something and given it away to a friend and it tasted so good they said you should sell it?" asks Kivirist. If you have a knack for baking with your farmed goods, consider your state’s Cottage Food Law. This rule lets you to sell non-hazardous baked goods (those not needing refrigeration) and other items like high-acid canned items and candy. You can quickly start selling homemade goods without the high cost of installing a commercial kitchen. 

    Kivirist says that a great example is “Homemade for Sale,” the book Lisa Ivanko and her husband, John, wrote, provides the key start-up resources you need to get going. 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 5. Express Yourself

    "Be yourself and express your unique qualities as a female farmer in anything you do – however you want to define that," says Kivirist. Some women farm in overalls, some in skirts! While it’s not your typical, expected farm gear, wearing your favorite clothing can still be practical while moving around. 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 6. Involve Your Kids

    Running a farm while raising kids can support one another. While you get work done, the farm can be a treasure trove of learning opportunities for kids. "Taking kids to the farmers' market from an early age on teaches everything from custormer service skills to instilling a strong work ethic, especially if the market requires rising and packing the truck before dawn," suggests Kivirist. "As kids get older, they may be inspired to run their own side business!"

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 7. Share

    We all learn best in a collaborative environment where we can readily exchange information and ask questions. "One of the easiest things you can do to spark that is to throw a local potluck. Invite area women who share your love of the country life, bring a dish to pass, and watch the connections bloom!" Kivirist loves hosting others at her home and sharing her fresh goods with friends. 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018
  • 8. Step up to Lead

    "Women make up one of the fastest growing groups of new farmers, which means it is more important than ever to take on leadership roles and make positive change in our rural communities," says Kivirist. "From serving on county boards to local committees to state office and beyond, women with a passion for stewarding our land and bringing fresh food to our countryside can preserve a healthy rural landscape for future generations." 

    Date Published: February 7, 2018
    Date Updated: March 21, 2018

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