Ladies Who Ag Gathers Women, Resources
A new opportunity to connect with other women and available resources in agriculture kicks off May 12 in Hamilton.
Ladies Who Ag, sponsored by Montana Farmers Union, is a play off of the “women who lunch” idea and will bring speakers on agriculture-related issues and resources together regionally around the state.
The free luncheons are open to anyone and will be held regionally around the state in the coming months. The gatherings also are a way to continue momentum gained during MFU’s Women’s Conferences.
“The MFU Women’s Conferences are rejuvenating and refreshing events for women all around the state. The energy that comes from those events can be really powerful to build strong networks and leaders in our communities,” MFU Member Services Director Rachel Prevost said.
“So providing even more opportunities to gather throughout the year, and build up to our two Women’s Conference events that take place will hopefully continue to build up and strengthen our rural communities more than just one or two times a year,” Prevost added.
The first lunch is planned from noon-1:30 p.m., Friday, May 12, at the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority Conference Room located at 274 Old Corvallis Road in Hamilton.
The agenda for May 12 includes a locally grown lunch prepared by O’Hara Commons & Sustainability Center; updates from MFU; time to network; and information from Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, Ravalli County NRCS, FSA, Ravalli County Conservation District, and Value Added Producer Grant opportunities from USDA Rural Development.
“Many women have leadership or are major decision makers for their farms, so when women get together, it can often become a catalyst for ideas,” said Carissa McNamara, an MFU Ambassador helping plan the event.
Collaborating with other organizations, such as Montana Farmers Union, brings more perspectives to the table and ultimately helps everyone, said Grace Nichols, who serves as Program Manager for Specialty Crop Business Development at RCEDA.
“It’s amazing to work with all these different organizations. We can extend our reach and what programs we can offer. We can reach more producers,” Nichols said.
Taking the time to network is crucial to success, tapping into resources and building community, Nichols said.
“I want people to have more connections to other producers and a stronger social safety net,” she said.
Currently, RCEDA is working to address the issue of local food access with an economic analysis of local food in Ravalli County. The project includes a feasibility study on the need for a food micro processing center that would include cold storage.
Women who attend the lunch will provide insight into the analysis project, as well as open the door to answer other questions, help with marketing, troubleshoot, and more, Nichols said.
The goal is to have Ladies Who Ag events several times a year to keep people connected and give opportunities to make more connections to people and resources. Already, MFU offers Women’s Conference gatherings, but the Ladies Who Ag luncheons will provide multiple opportunities to gather.
“We want to reach as many people as possible with these networking opportunities. Every region is a little bit different, so having these gatherings at regional and local levels helps us to tailor educational and networking opportunities to fit the communities in the area,” Prevost said.
If you support rural communities and agriculture, Ladies Who Ag is for you, McNamara said, encouraging women to attend.
“Being a woman in ag doesn’t just mean that you’re a woman who has the talent to drive the combine all day. You might be the one at the front office or shuttling the kids, or whatever – so don’t be limited by what your view of agriculture is,” she said.
Additional Ladies Who Ag Luncheons are planned in from noon to 1:30 p.m. in June for Central Montana, including: June 2 in Harlowton at the Jawbone Creek Country Club Patio, June 6 in Stanford at the Waterhole Saloon, June 13 in Winnett at the Community Center, June 20 in Malta at the Great Northern, and June 22 in Lewistown at the Brooks Market.
To RSVP for the Ladies Who Ag Luncheon in Hamilton on May 12, call MFU Ambassador Carissa McNamara at 406-333-1886 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To RSVP for the Central Montana luncheons, RSVP to MFU Ambassador Mary Jenni at 406-380-0051 or email@example.com.
For more information, visit www.montanafarmersunion.com.