Last week I had the awesome experience of attending the inaugural “I Am FarmHer” conference. If you aren’t familiar with FarmHer , you need to check it out!! They focus on shining a light on women in agriculture. Read on…
Sidetone: I’m here to share some highlights, but if you want to see what we did from morning until night, check out the agenda.
It all started on Monday morning I did something I rarely do. I kissed the kids and my husband goodbye, hopped in an SUV with my long lost friend, Lynn, and headed west. We picked up one of her co-workers & friends, Melissa, along the way to Des Moines, Iowa to spend a few days with 147 other ladies involved in agriculture.
Our evening started out with registration and a cocktail reception (yay for a free drink ticket!). We got a bag of awesome goodies included Magnolia Journal – because who doesn’t love Chip and Joanna Gaines?? After a bit we boarded a charter bus and headed to the Stine Barn.
Now, when I heard Stine Barn, I was picturing a red Morton-type building. Instead, my mind was completely blown. It was pretty much one of the most incredible barns EVER, if you can even call it that. Think luxury retreat with amazing wood beams, rustic décor, and impressive….well, everything!
The food was phenomenal. So great, in fact, I didn’t even remember to take a photo. Except cupcakes. How is it that I always remember to take photos of cupcakes?
At the end of the night we picked our jaws up off the floor, and headed home for the night.
Tuesday morning started with yoga. As in, other people did yoga. I didn’t attend. In fact, I didn’t even intend TO attend. Come on now, I had a king size bed, a full night’s sleep and no toddler sleeping on my head. That’s right, I slept in and I totally own it!
I did, however, get up for a breakfast of bacon, eggs and potatoes.
Marji Guyler-Alaniz, the founder of FarmHer, kicked off the morning by sharing her story and a mini-movie which had most of the women tearing up before the conference even officially began.
Here are some of my personal I Am FarmHer highlights –
We toured Meredith Corporation, home of Successful Farming, Eating Well and tons of other publications. We also had the opportunity to tour the Better Homes & Gardens test kitchen and other areas. (That post will be coming your way soon. It was that cool, it needs a post all it’s own).
I met a former Survivor contestant (you know, the show on CBS where they drop you off in a remote jungle/island/place I wouldn’t ever want to be).
I learned about branding and marketing, about facing my fears and stepping out of my comfort zone.
I listened to an inspirational story from a former Cupcake War contestant and awesome entrepreneur.
I learned that you can have everything you want – just not all at the same time. I don’t recall who said that, but it was a life changing revelation for me.
I heard from people who had been on episodes of FarmHer. If you don’t normally watch the TV show on RFDTV you should definitely check it out!
I listened to a panel of food bloggers (Cristen Clark of Food & Swine; Kristin Porter of Iowa Girl Eats and editors (Jennifer Darling, Editor-in-Chief of Allrecipes magazine) talk about food trends and agriculture.
I dined with strangers but left the table with new friends. I met people I follow on social media and people who follow me.
Women connected. Tears were shed.
This was the first conference I’ve attended where I felt like every single woman in the room could be my friend. I met people from all walks of life and they were kind, they were supportive, and they were honest.
It allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone. Normally an introvert, I raised my hand when questions were asked. I found myself walking up to random strangers, introducing myself, and asking “What’s your story?”
I attended this conference because I needed to surround myself with information from women in the ag industry, the experts.
I didn’t grow up farming, in fact I never took an ag class in high school. I was involved in Girl Scouts growing up; not 4H. I never showed projects at the fair and I wasn’t involved in FFA. I worked in corporate America in a non-ag related capacity for years.
I felt like a “fake” farmer and I’m telling you, that’s a very uncomfortable place to be. I didn’t want to feel like a fraud.
But what I learned is this. There is no cookie cutter woman in agriculture.
Yes, you can farm corn, or wheat, tomatoes, or soybeans. You can raise cattle, pigs or goats. You can educate others through a college or Farm Bureau. You can sell seed, or do research, or work in an ag related industry like my incredibly talented friend Lynn.
But there were also women at this conference that knew their stuff and who support farmers by bookkeeping, marketing, and keeping things moving smoothly on the home front.
Women like me. I felt validated in my role in our farm.
Yes, my goal is to eventually farm full time with my husband, Ryan. Every now and then I drive a tractor or get out in the fields. But for now, my job is this.
I care for our family of six. I hop in the Suburban to pick up parts, kids in tow. I shuttle people between fields and equipment. I encourage; I listen; I support. And along the way I cook healthy food for the people I love.
Was this conference worth it the drive, the expense, the time away from our family? 100 percent.
Because now I can confidently say this – I feed farmers.
I am a FarmHer.