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How Women Farmers Use Potlucks to Come Together

Women farmers are networking at potlucks.

Women farmers are everywhere. They own the local dairy farm outside of town, operate the hydroponic greenhouse down the street, and tend to and sell the organic produce you buy at your local farmers market.

But while the fields are full of women farmers, sometimes life in the country can get a little lonely. To combat that occasional loneliness, the innovative female farmers of Wisconsin have cooked up a way to connect with each other. According to Civil Eats, women farmers in Wisconsin are throwing potlucks to gab, network, and just kick back.

The concept, now called the Southeast Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture, was recently thought up by Christine Welcher, and organic farmer. (Although, the potluck movement, overall, started in its grassroots form in Wisconsin about five years ago.) “In December, she [Welcher] began sending out emails to a handful of local women, suggesting that a grassroots movement fueled by simple potlucks would form a needed network. The idea traveled by word-of-mouth. Slowly, the farmers learned of one another, even if they were miles apart,” reports Civil Eats.

The women cook and serve the food they grow and raise at each potluck. While all the women in attendance consider this gathering a lifeline, they also use the potluck as a venue to share information. The farmers discuss where to buy farm equipment, farms that have gone up for sale, and other items of farming business.

Every potluck is held at a different farm. “Each potluck includes a tour of the hosting farm, formal introductions, and requests and offers of help and resources. Throughout the year, guests stay in contact through a listserv,” reports Civil Eats. And in addition to helping connect women, the potlucks can also be quite lucrative. Sometimes a business partnership can be born. According to Civil Eats, that’s what happened when Anna Landmark, a cheesemaker and goat farmer, met Anna Thomas Bates, at a potluck. The two now run the Landmark Creamery near Albany, Wis.

What do you think about the farming potluck movement? Are there any similar groups in your city?
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