The Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City, Neb. provided a beautiful backdrop for the 2016 Women Food and Ag Network Conference, November 4-5, 2016. Several speakers and even a movie highlighted this year’s theme of Women and Permaculture: Making a Living in Harmony with the Land.
A lively group of 169 women from across Iowa and across the country kicked off the conference on Friday with tours and intensive workshops. Many participants toured women-owned farms near Lincoln, Neb., urban ag projects near Omaha, or Arbor Day Farm and Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City, Neb. Others spent a few hours learning about permaculture or eco-feminism and women’s leadership. I had a great time learning more about the history, theory, and practice of eco-feminism. The workshop was led by WFAN co-founders and Iowa State University professors/lecturers Betty Wells and Danielle Wirth.
The evening concluded with a wonderful farm-to-chef tasting event and showing of the film INHABIT. The movie showcased several examples of how people are growing plants and animals on diverse permaculture landscapes in urban and rural places.
Speaking on the ecological and human benefits of permaculture, keynote speaker Karryn Olson-Ramanujan encouraged women to be part of regenerative farming systems. ISU Extension and Outreach local foods coordinator, Ash Bruxvoort, offered tried and tested strategies for reaching your direct-marketing customers online. Many other workshops covered topics from agroforestry, farm stays, and permaculture to transitioning land to the next generations.
During the meals and breaks, conference attendees could view the beautiful photovoice exhibit “River Stories: View from an Iowa Watershed,” or visit the exhibitor area. I enjoyed talking with women who stopped by the ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag display and took the opportunity to share the Women Impacting the Land videos, as well. Several of the farm women who grew the food prepared for lunch were in attendance at the conference and the chef was rightly proud of the gourmet buffet offered.
Bridget Holcomb, Executive Director, and Leigh Adcock, Conference Coordinator, announced next year’s conference will be November 2-4, 2017 in Madison, Wis. For more information on the organization visit their website at www.wfan.org.