AT A GLANCE: Soil Sisters
“We help each other develop home-based entrepreneurial ventures, help make our agricultural community more vibrant, and help more local women step into leadership positions. We have found a lot of power in shifting from ‘it’s all about me’ to the more collaborative ‘it’s all about us.’” —Kriss Marion and Lisa Kivirist, Key Co-Founders, Soil Sisters (Southern Wisconsin)
AT A GLANCE
Organization Name: Soil Sisters. It’s an annual women-farmer-led event and a collaborative of Wisconsin women-owned farms and food-based businesses.
Key Co-Founders: Lisa Kivirist and Kriss Marion
Organization Start Date: Our first event was in August 2012. (We expect to have our nonprofit set up by fall 2019.)
Briefly Describe Your Organization: We help promote the local Wisconsin agricultural community, particularly women farmers and women-led food businesses.
For What Are You Best Known: We’re known for our annual early-August event, where we provide a variety of authentic, on-farm workshops, such as “how to start a food-based business,” farmstead food demos, culinary events (meals), and farm tours. Local restaurants also showcase women-owned farm produce and meats. A thousand attendees come from across the country, from as far as California—and even France. It’s for both women and men interested in going rural, and also anyone who wants to have a fun day on the farm—pure summer, farm fun.
Top 3 Key Milestones:
· In August 2015, the governor declared the first week in August “Wisconsin Women in Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Week.”
· In 2017, we helped get repealed the state ban on selling home-baked goods. We were able to change the course of Wisconsin history and we have helped the farmer’s market movement across the state. (We’re seeing a huge explosion of farmer’s market vendors.)
· Early in 2019, we won a Top Rural Development Initiative Award from the Wisconsin Rural Partners Association.
What’s Your “Secret Sauce”? (Why/How have you achieved success?)
Soil Sisters is really a team of more than 20 women farmers who produce the August event. We showcase the growing movement of Wisconsin-based, women-owned farms and food-based businesses.
We are also a 200-strong group of women who get together at potlucks. Rural areas are having tough times, are struggling to reinvent themselves. We have worked our butts off and we are charting a way forward for something different so that rural places can succeed into the future.
The reality of rural living and being on farms is that it’s isolating. Community and relationships flourish over shared meals and with our collaborative spirit. We’re women who authentically support each other, against the typical traditions of businesses competing and outdoing each other.
From talking at a potluck to going to hearings to getting media attention. That’s really empowering. We’re showing that we can pull together a bunch of friends and even change legislation.