This November, I had the opportunity to attend the 4th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture in Des Moines, Iowa, which was a three day conference attended by over 400 women and “a few intrepid men”!
During more than one session, I listened to the women presenters start their session with anecdotal jabs about how a few times during the year, they secretly wish how they could work in a cubicle, leave their daily stresses at work, and come home to relax. Instead, they are farmers or agricultural advocates whose work never stops when they are home. Despite the antagonistic quips, all of the presenters were quick to inspire attendees through never-ending passion that resonated through each of their stories and objective teachings.
Holly Carroll, both a teacher and the Oklahoma State Farm Bureau Coordinator, focused on reaching and retaining new young leaders in agriculture. She reminded the room full of women of all ages that even though you may not relate to interacting with your “target market” or peers through social media, it is where our younger generations spend their time. If you have a story to tell, but none of the time it takes to put it into a blog or website, recruit a student in the community who can make it their school project to assist you. Not only does this offer them the opportunity to work with social media (something they already excel at), but by studying your story it gives them reason to take stock in what you do by integrating them into your livelihood. It may even plant the seed for them to get involved in the sustainable agriculture movement in the future! So despite technology being a barrier that may separate us sometimes, it is evermore meaningful to connect with others by way of social media tools.
In the last session I attended at the conference, Wendy Allen, both a PR Professional for Organic Valley and a Writer/Content Editor for Edible Madison, explained how important it is to tell your story – especially when trying to bring a focus to your business, products, etc. More and more people want to feel connected to what they are purchasing. Through a writing/reading exercise, Wendy revealed how when others read and relate to your story, you give them reason to further invest in you and your products or services.
As a native of the Viroqua Area I feel quite privileged to be back here, in hopes to pour whatever strength and courageous ambition I have back into what I do here at the Viroqua Food Co-op. I have a lot of role models who take what they are good at and find a way to surround themselves with as much of it as possible- and it’s contagious (those of you reading this article most likely qualify... yeah, YOU)!
Recently, I found a way to be of service to the people/farmers who grow my food, even if I’m not working on a farm. Every week I help Linda Gallardo, the VFC Produce Manager, tell the story of what is most fresh and local in the produce department. Together, we take two to four products and feature them with a fun recipe, an educational blurb, or interesting ways other food bloggers are working with the same subject matter, and then publish it on our local food blog called “Fresh & Local”. This blog is the Co-op’s way of storytelling and spreading the great word about what our local producers are up to and how you can directly support them when you vote with your dollars here at the VFC.
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VFC Marketing Assistant