Why develop Women Farm?
We think Ohio women farmers have untapped capacity to develop one another and thereby positively influence the future of food farming for regional markets, and the conservation and preservation of Ohio farmland. Women Farm was developed not only to make the skills and knowledge of women farm operators more available to other women but also to put a system and tools in place that give conservation- and preservation-minded women farmers who are engaged and interested in food farming for regional markets more opportunities to think, do, work, and learn together.
Who provides the services offered by Women Farm?
Ohio women farmers with four or more successful years as food producers and marketers provide the direct experience instruction in basic and specialized production, supplemented by a woman with extensive experience in values-driven business management and in career management services for women. In 2011 and 2012 this team comprises Women Farm owners Janie Marr Werum and Sharon Sachs and regional partners Mary Bridgman, Maryann Burr, Amy Forrest, Kristie Fisher, and Joan Richmond, supplemented by other women who are also experienced food farmers.
Why is Women Farm a “for-profit” company?
We consider this business structure the most effective for implementing our vision to pioneer new service approaches that engage and benefit women farmers. We think of our company as a for-profit with the heart of a not-for-profit. Like the farmers we serve, we seek fair compensation for the quality of our work. We can imagine a future of alternate business structures - a women farmer owned cooperative, a not-for-profit, or a for-profit with additional owners.
How did you decide where to offer services?
Our start-up plans were based on data in the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture and its report on the number of women farm operators in each county of Ohio. We identified five economic development regions in Ohio that reported higher numbers of women farm operators. Our plan is to have “on-farm, in-field, learn-to-farm direct experience instruction” in all five regions by 2013. If significant numbers of women in other Ohio regions communicate a demand for services, we will work to expand responsively. It is our plan to have one major service site in each region, supplemented by other locations within the region, as needed.
Other services of Women Farm, including our teleconferences, consulting and, of course, the Web site, are accessible to everyone, regardless of where you live in the state.
Can people with little to no access to the Internet use the services of Women Farm?
We are happy to send promotional information at no extra charge when provided name, mailing address, and telephone. Information and materials uniquely distributed via our Web site are made available at shared cost, meaning Women Farm does not charge handling costs and the customer must pay the direct expenses of duplication and shipping. This supportive service must be requested and a deposit made ($25 minimum and in increments of $25).
Can men use the services of Women Farm?
Absolutely. The services of Women Farm are designed to meet the needs of Ohio women who are engaged in or interested in food farming for regional markets. If a man believes the services offered by Women Farm would be helpful, he is a welcome customer.
Do your services include help with marketing the farmers’ products?
No. We think excellent and varied resources are sufficiently available to help farmers sell their products to regional markets. See Regional Marketing Resources. We intend to survey women farmers about our assumption and may learn of unmet needs, to which we will respond at minimum through advocacy and perhaps with direct service.