Enhancing Women Farmers’ Understanding of Cover Crops

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $28,426.00
Projected End Date: 04/14/2017
Grant Recipient: Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Lisa Kivirist
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
Jody Padgham
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation, food processing, high tunnels or hoop houses
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, farmers' markets/farm stands, new enterprise development, value added
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture, organic certification, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: green manures
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, local and regional food systems, quality of life, social networks, urban/rural integration


    In the “Enhancing Women Farmers’ Understanding of Cover Crops” project, MOSES highlighted diverse cover crop uses and benefits through four day-long on-farm field days, written articles, a website, podcasts and social media posts for women.

    In 2015 and 2016 MOSES Rural Women’s Project held four field days on women-owned farms in Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. 182 women farmers attended plus 15 ag professionals, exceeding our initial goal of 160. The field days highlighted the use of cover crops on diverse farms, as well as numerous other topics. Written articles and podcast recordings supported the field days and expanded the educational reach of the project. Additionally, a farmer attendee at each workshop wrote up a "5 things I learned" recap article that was posted online.  A supporting website and social media support on Facebook and Twitter kept the community connected throughout the project year.

    This project offered views and in-depth understanding of successful women-owned farm operations, with a concentration on the effective use of cover crops. We have found that women enjoy learning most from their peers, other women farm owners that have learned by doing. Showcasing successful operations, with a small-group atmosphere (aimed at around 40 participants) with a mix of farm tour, formal presentation and discussion introduced women farmers to soil-building techniques that they can apply in their own new operations. The gatherings also created a sense of camaraderie and community, which continues after the events via facebook and twitter as well as through the Rural Women's Project webpage at mosesorganic.org/rural-womens-project. 

    Archived articles and podcasts of interviews with the host farmers about production practices, with an emphasis on the use of cover crops for a diversity of crops and production styles, and now readily available from ITunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher, allowing the educational concepts to be accessed by a broad audience, on-demand and year-round.

    Project objectives:

    • Enhance 160+ women farmers’ understanding of the diversity of uses and benefits of cover crops.
    • Expose women farmers in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota to successful women-run sustainable farms.
    • Create opportunity for connection between women interested in sustainable farming in each state.
    • Provide ongoing informational resources about the use of cover crops on four women-led farms in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
    • Continue further educational outreach and women farmer connection by documenting the host farmer story and production practices through podcasts, written articles and on-line resources.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.