News from the Women's Agricultural Network
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February 2017

Winter Reading & Inspiration: The Rise of Women Farmers

Books & websites showcase how women farmers are changing the food system

The Female Farmer Project Through photographs, blog posts, podcasts and now coloring books, author and photographer Audra Mulkern and her team are working to "accurately portray a group of people who" Mulkern believes have been "invisible for far too long: The female farmer . . . This group of women who had been doing amazing things." 

Drawing on 10 years of research and work with women farmers, the Rise of Women Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture, published in 2016, explores the societal changes that have empowered women to claim the farmer identity, describes barriers that are broadly encountered by women farmers, and offers a framework to shift the US food system to one that better supports women farmers. 

Soil Sistersalso published in 2016, provides a blue-print for women who want to farm. Author Lisa Kivirist, founding coordinator of the Rural Women's Project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, synthesizes key information and advice from seasoned women farmers committed to sustainable agriculture.

Farming Labor Project Seeks Your Input

Please take a few minutes today to complete an online survey about your experiences and challenges managing farm labor. A multi-state research and extension team is examining relationships between household needs, farm structure, and market forces to better understand how farmers can anticipate the amount and type of labor needed to attain their goals. The team will use your input to help develop educational programs and decision tools to help farmers improve farm labor decision-making and management. The team is especially seeking information from women farmers so that gendered aspects of labor management are addressed. Questions? Please contact Project Director Mary Peabody.

Labor Management Resources

Legal Guides on Labor Topics

Three new farm labor resource guides are available to help Vermont farmers navigate the legal aspects of hiring farm workers, offering apprenticeships, and engaging independent contractors (custom operators). All three are available for download at the New Farmer Project's Business Management Toolshed. Similar guides for other states are available at the Farm Commons Website.

Job Description Generator

Getting Ready to Hire? Job descriptions are one of the most important tools for hiring and managing your employees because they spell out the expectations both for you and for employees. A new online tool is available to help write effective job descriptions. The tool guides you through the essential elements of a job description, including identifying essential tasks and responsibilities. Access the tool at the new UVM Extension Agricultural Labor Management website.

Education & Technical Assistance

Farm Labor Workshop Series University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, in partnership with NOFA-VT and NH Farm Bureau, is offering a a four-session series to help build farmers’ skills in managing their labor force. Each of the workshops will be offered in two locations: West Lebanon and Portsmouth, NH. $25 per person per session. Learn more and register at NOFA-VT's website.

Production Efficiency Intensives for Vegetable Farmers. Learn how to grow your profit margins by strategically increasing the efficiency of your farm operations. Topics that will be addressed at this full-day workshop include product flow, storage area organization, ergonomic systems, employee management, planning for equipment and infrastructure needs, and efficient winter production systems. March 2 in Poultney and March 3 in Craftsbury, VT. $25, includes lunch. Details and registration.

Cornell University's Northeast Beginning Farmer Project offers a variety of 5-7-week online courses for beginning farmers. Courses cover business planning, marketing and enterprise-specific development topics for vegetables, fruit, woodlot, livestock,  mushroom and beekeeping. $250. Learn more at at the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project.

Vegetable Crop Planning for Wholesale Markets. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT ATTRA) recently conducted a webinar for vegetable growers wanting to scale up into wholesale or institutional markets. The webinar was recorded and is available on the NCAT ATTRA website, along with a guide to related resources. Have questions? Use ATTRA's “Ask an Ag Expert” feature or call the ATTRA “hotline” at 800-346-9140.

Browse the WAgN calendar for additional local events, and visit the eXtension Learn Site to connect with online sessions farmers can access from anywhere in the US.


The Vermont Farm Women's Fund Scholarships can help defray class, course and conference fees for women who own, operate or work on Vermont farms. Scholarships are capped at $150 or 75% of the event fee, which ever is less. Funding is limited, and scholarships will be awarded to eligible applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Details and application form at the VFWF website.

The comfoodjobs listserv is an announcement service for employment, internships, and similar opportunities across the food system spectrum. Recent listings have included a variety of opportunities on commercial farm and nonprofit organizations throughout the US. Subscribe here.

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs:  The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the availability of $27 million in grants to strengthen market opportunities for local and regional food producers and businesses through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. AMS will host a webinar to help farmers, producer groups and other potential applicants to understand the program requirements. Webinar details.

Vermont Land Link is a farm property clearinghouse designed help farm seekers and Vermont farm property owners find each other. Visit to post or search for properties. Find additional land access resources Vermont New Farmer Project's Land Access Toolshed.

Support WAgN's Important Work!

Since 1995, the Women's Agricultural Network has worked to support and encourage the growing number of women farm operators, and to help them build profitable and sustainable businesses.

"The support and encouragement from other women . . . is invaluable. It affirmed my  commitment to sustainable agriculture and strengthened my resolve to make a difference in my community."

Every donation has an impact on our ability to support and encourage women farmers.

Donate Online! The Women's Agricultural Network shares an online giving form with several other grant and gift-supported UVM Extension Programs. The programs are listed alphabetically so you'll find the Women's Agricultural Network near the bottom of the list.
Copyright © 2017 Women's Agricultural Network, All rights reserved.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, VT. University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.

Funding for this update was provided by USDA Risk Management Education in Targeted States grant program, which provides risk management and financial tools to Vermont’s farmers with information through education and outreach programs.  More information is available at:

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