Farming can feel solitary because a lot of the days are spent alone working with the land and animals. However, the occupation of farming has an effect on more than just the farmer, but also on those who buy their products . . . We take care of our land and animals because we want well cared for products and we also want that for our neighbors, friends, and community. We also want to share with everyone why we love what we do and why we feel it is valuable work.
By Michelle Harrigan, Food Web Farms (Monroe, WI)
On Thursday, May 25, I am hosting a farm tour and you are all invited! This event comes as a result of being an Ambassador for the Women, Food & Ag Network, a member of Soil Sisters, and a board member of our local WI Farmers Union chapter. All of these roles have helped me to increase my awareness of a farm’s need for conservation and for a farmer’s need for connection.
When we moved here almost a decade ago we knew almost no one and while I had grown up on a dairy farm, it had been over a decade since I had been active in farming. Because of my experience growing up, I had traditional practices in mind regarding the land when we first moved here. We started with “How can we best make use of this small space?” The more we researched and connected with others (especially rural women in the area including the Soil Sisters community), the more I realized that we should be asking “How can I best care for the land to keep it (and our family) healthy?” From there our practices changed.
When we needed a name for our farm (for permits) our children had been watching a lot of nature shows and came up with Food Web Farms. We loved it and felt it showed what we wanted this place to be: an awareness that we don’t control the land but are part of the web of nature and just one part of the intricate puzzle of life.
Over my years here I have learned about a wide variety of conservation and sustainability practices. Some are particular to having farmland and we will show them during our farm tour including rotational grazing, our mobile bird coop, pollinator patches, and our solar array.
Other conservation and sustainable practices that we do (and you can too) include the following: If you have a lawn: 1) No Mow May 2) Plant Flowers for Pollinators 3) Use Less Pesticides/Fertilizers Even if you don’t have a lawn: 1) Buy Local 2) Compost 3) Conserve Water Another thing that I have realized over and over in my various roles is that we farm not just for us, but for those we have not met yet. Which brings me back to farmers and our need for connection.
Farming can feel solitary because a lot of the days are spent alone working with the land and animals. However, the occupation of farming has an effect on more than just the farmer, but also on those who buy their products. Whether they are meat, produce, baked goods, honey, eggs, wool products, milk, cheese, and so much more each farmer produces more than their individual family can use (even a small farm like ours). We take care of our land and animals because we want well cared for products and we also want that for our neighbors, friends, and community. We also want to share with everyone why we love what we do and why we feel it is valuable work.
So I invite you to connect with a farmer and ask them to share with you not only what they produce, but why and let them share their passion with you.
Again you are invited to come connect with us at our event on May 25 and I will share more with you about my growing passions for conservation! For details and to rsvp, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. —Michelle Harrigan serves as a Stewardship Ambassador with the Women, Food & Agriculture Network/WFAN, a partnership project with Renewing the Countryside and Soil Sisters to empower other landowners to take conservation action and amplifying women landowners as powerful agents of change. She is a strong advocate for building rural mental health resources and autism awareness and serves on the Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter Board. Soil Sisters, a program of Renewing the Countryside, connects and champions women in the Green County area committed to sustainable and organic agriculture, land stewardship, local food, family farms and healthy and economically vibrant rural communities. This Soil Sisters column originally ran in The Monroe Times on 5/19/23.