For 20 years WFAN’s Harvesting Our Potential (HOP) program has been inspiring and growing women farmers by supporting them in becoming active farmers, mentors, and advocates. We have previously targeted this program to aspiring women farmers who are exploring or in the beginning stages of starting a farm enterprise. Through evaluations we’ve learned that women farmers at all stages in their careers benefit from mentorship as they seek to diversify and/or expand their operations.
Through Harvesting Our Potential: Growing Skills, Confidence and Sustainability we will grow the program to include new mentorship opportunities for existing women farmers who seek additional training on topics such as how to add new enterprises, operate a tractor, or improve marketing. Additionally, we’ll host an on-line meeting with previous program participants to share their “where I am now” stories. We will also pilot a farm-sitting component, providing funding and training for a farm-sitter to care for a farmer’s operations while the farmer attends additional training opportunities. This will provide both parties opportunities to grow skills and provide experience for the farm-sitter to use in future farm employment opportunities. This project will take place in Iowa and one other to-be-identified state in the NC region.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Address barriers to employment/entrepreneurship while increasing likelihood of womens’ farm success through 20 paid mentorships, with at least one-third of matches focused on new enterprise development. Mentorships will give participants the knowledge, confidence and support they need to enact change.
- Increase participant network and familiarity with resources to start or sustain a farming career through networking events, including a Learning Circle and an on-line “meet and greet,” reaching approximately 150 - 200 women.
- Pilot a farm-sitting component, providing farm-sitter service for one mentor to leave her farm for additional training, while one mentee gains additional on-farm experience through paid farm-sitting.