Yolo Women Farmers Kick Off the New Yolo Farmers Guild!


Four of the Yolo Farmers Guild founding members

It’s no secret that women are the most rapidly growing segment of the nation’s changing demographics in farming. Maybe you’ve checked out the great resources in our brand new Women in Agriculture Toolkit, but if you want to see these stats in person, look no further than the Yolo Farmers Guild! The driving force behind the latest addition to the Guild Network is a feisty group of female farmers and allies that have taken the reigns and gotten the Guild up and running.


Sharing resources over dinner

On December 2nd, Madams Marisa Alcorta (NCAT/ATTRA), Sarah Barnes (Soil Born Farms), Annie Hehner (Leap Frog Farm), Kristy Lyn Levings (Cache Creek Meat), Rachel Petitt (CAFF, Say Hay Farm), May Reid-Marr (Say Hay Farm), Emma Torbert (The Clover Leaf Farm), and Erin Walkenshaw (Full Belly Farm) welcomed about 50 folks from Yolo, Solano, Napa, Sacramento, and Placer counties to the kick off of their new Guild. The space at Glide Ranch kindly provided by our partner CAFF, was literally overflowing with conviviality and an abundance of delicious potluck dishes. It wasn’t long before people were connecting with old friends and new, trading tools, finding new markets, and swapping stories. These kinds of connections are the lifeblood of a thriving Guild!

Annie Hehner is one of the women helping to make these connections. Annie grew up running through fields and orchards at Full Belly and Good Humus Farms, and her family hosted the Good Humus CSA drop in Woodland. She remembered the excitement of her childhood: “Every Saturday morning, it was just about my favorite thing to listen for the rumble of the old van, and run out and hop in and go to market. For many years the daughter of Good Humus’ owners, Alison and I would just race around the market on our roller blades, and play in the park, but when we were about 11 we finally settled down and started helping at the stand.”

It wasn’t until college that Annie decided to learn how to grow the kind of food that she grew up around at the market. A three-month internship near her college in Humboldt turned into a three-year stay before she headed home to start her own farm. Annie said, “Ever since I moved back, I was hoping to form some sort of farmers’ group, and well we finally made it happen! For me, living out in Guinda, farming by myself, it’s really important to have a network of farmers to socialize and problem-solve with.” And she’s right! The Guild can’t wait to learn more about Annie’s straw-bale vegetable cooler!


The bountiful potluck

Emma Torbert (also a FarmsReach Featured Farmer!), shared the same sentiment: “I think that making connections between farmers who are often doing similar things helps us all — we can share equipment, help market, transport each other’s produce and learn from each other’s mistakes. Plus, it’s really fun to hang around other farmers.”

As a farmer who also works part-time at the Ag Sustainability Institute, Emma hopes that the Guild can be a place to facilitate more communication between the more established farming community and the new generation of farmers, between multiple generations and different scales too. “I think that having a monthly time when a bunch of farmers are in the same room will help us mobilize for things that would benefit [us all] — more community support for processing facilities, writing the USDA to change rules that don’t make sense, etc.” she said.

Annie, Emma and the other Yolo organizers made their very first Guild a huge success and we’re all excited to see what the Guild grows up to be. If you’re in the Yolo area, please join the newly formed online Yolo Farmers Guild Group, make new connections, share resources, and meet the founding members next month!

Interested in taking part, lending a hand or just spreading the word?  Join the new Yolo Farmers Guild Group, or email tiffany@farmersguild.org. We hope to see you at next month’s gathering on February 3rd at 6:30 p.m, N Street Co-op, 716 N St, Davis. It’s free and open to all.

If you’re in other areas of California, check out our Farmers Guild site for info on other area’s Guilds and how to set up your own!

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