Celebrating Women in Ag Making History

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Show Notes

celebrating women in ag making history with meag malinowski and jenny kreisher

Summary

On this episode of the Farm Credit AgVocates Podcast, Jenny Kreisher and Meaghan Malinowski celebrate National Women's History Month by shouting out their favorite Women in Ag to follow online. From a former dancer to a Midwestern cricket farmer, this is a list of ladies you won't want to miss following. 

In this episode, you'll find great examples of storytelling in marketing and how to use digital channels for marketing your own farm business. 

Links

Hannah Neeleman (Ballerina Farm)

Marji Guyler-Alaniz (FarmHer)

Mary Heffernan (Five Marys Farm)

Lisa Hinton (Old Westminster Winery)

Emily Shaw (Dairy Girl Fitness)

Kelly Barb (Prancing Deer Farm)

Jenell Eck (McHenry's Beef)

Shelby Smith (Gym N Eat Crickets)

Lindsey Buckman (Assateague Farm)

Emma Cunniff (Kneehigh Farm)

 

Transcript

 Meaghan Malinowski:

Welcome to the Farm Credit AgVocates podcast. I'm Meaghan Malinowski, Content and Digital Strategist. Today I'll be joined by Jenny Kreisher, Director of Communications and Creative Services here at MAFC. Today's episode, we're going to shake it up a little bit. We're going to do something a little bit different than normal. We're really excited about Women's History Month and we've decided to make March attribute to the women in ag making history every day; working hard to feed and clothe our communities, supporting their families out in the field, at home and at their other jobs. You name, women are doing it and they're rocking it. We want to bring it back to that history part as well because a major part of history is making sure that the story is recorded and told to educate our future generations.

Jenny Kreisher:

And what a story it is Meag. I actually went and looked at some of the stats from the 2017 Ag Census to share with our listeners today that I feel really illustrate just how big of an impact women have made on our industry. So, are you ready? 

Meaghan Malinowski:

Yeah, absolutely. Give them to me. 

Jenny Kreisher:

All right. Believe it or not, 36% of all of US producers, which is 1.2 million, are female producers and together they're farming 388 million acres. That's crazy!

Meaghan Malinowski:

That's insane!

Jenny Kreisher:

I also found it very interesting that 67% of them, so well over half of them, indicated having a primary job off the farm. That to me means they're really just working hard all over the place. 

Meaghan Malinowski: 

Yeah, absolutely. I think that definitely calls for a digital celebration and for today's celebration, Jenny and I are going to talk about our favorite women in ag that are doing an amazing job telling their stories virtually and doing their part to educate people on agriculture and where their food comes from. After the episode, make sure to head to mafc.com/podcast to get all the links to the websites, social media accounts and all of those things so you can show your support for these women in ag and follow along as well. 

Jenny, it's been a while since we've been on here together and I'm really happy to have you here for this conversation. 

Jenny Kreisher:

I am super excited to join you for this conversation. I think I speak for both of us when I say it was really difficult to pick five. There are a lot of fantastic women in ag to follow on social media, but I'm super excited to compare our lists. 

Meaghan Malinowski:

Good, good. Well then for our audience, I will let them know that I challenged Jenny to choose her top five favorite women in ag to follow and I did the same. We're going to start with Jenny's list first and we'll go through why we love reading their updates, what we love about their marketing aspect and all that jazz. 

Jenny, I'm going to hand it over to you. Who's your number one?

Hannah Neeleman of Ballerina Farm

Jenny Kreisher:

All right, my number one. Meag, you've heard me talk about her a few times and that is Hannah Neeleman of Ballerina Farm. I follow her on Instagram, and it’s @BallerinaFarm.  Her and her husband, Daniel live on a ranch in Utah with their five kids. What makes Hannah really unique is that she was a former Miss New York City and a graduate of the Juilliard School of Dance. She's actually a ballerina, hence the name Ballerina Farm. Daniel, her husband, was a history major. A little backstory on them is that they both spent some time in Brazil and that is where they actually fell in love with farming. They met a guy there who was talking with them about their cattle production, but Daniel, her husband, was actually super intrigued by how this guy raised his pigs. They were free range and they were free to eat the fruits from the trees on that farm. After spending four years in Brazil, they moved back to the States and founded Ballerina Farm. Today, they raise Berkshire pigs and Angus cattle. If you do check them out on social media, their dog Hoss really steals the show. They also have a ton of chickens, dairy cows and these two hilarious geese that are very noisy and it's really fun to watch. She does a great job sharing their family's story on both Facebook and Instagram. She shares a ton of recipes and I could watch her bake sourdough bread all day. For some reason it's become very therapeutic for me.

Meaghan Malinowski:

I was just about to say, that sounds very relaxing. 

Jenny Kreisher:

I feel like I smell it through the phone. The other really cool thing about Ballerina Farm is that they sell meat boxes. You can actually go on their website, ballerinafarm.com and order farm fresh meat. They also have some really  cool merch, such as super cozy looking sweatshirts, mugs and some fun things like that. That has been one account that I've really enjoyed watching that I discovered somewhat recently. 

Meaghan Malinowski: 

That's awesome. You know, I'm going to confess you have been talking about her for forever and I have not followed her yet. I know I'm so bad. I need to do that. 

Jenny Kreisher:

You will not regret it. 

Meaghan Malinowski:

All right. Well, who is your number two? 

Lisa Hinton of Old Westminster Winery

Jenny Kreisher:

All right. Number two is Old Westminster Winery, specifically the winemaker Lisa Hinton. They are actually based right here in my backyard in Westminster, Maryland and to be honest, I spend quite a bit of time there. They've been a great solace for me during COVID for sure. The organization or the company Old Westminster Winery is family run by three siblings and Lisa is the winemaker of the bunch. I don't know if many people follow Old Westminster Winery, if not, please do. Their wines are delicious, but the family does a great job of telling the story of their operation. Their first vines were actually planted in 2011 and today I'll just say that they've really put Maryland wines on the map. Not only throughout the state of Maryland and on the East Coast, but throughout the entire country. She and her husband have two adorable littles that they share photos of on her Instagram. She also shares a lot of her and her family's wine making journeys, which has been really fun to watch. Old Westminster Winery has always been a hotspot even before COVID, but they truly took it to another level over these past 11 months. They added a pizza oven, they started offering free wine home delivery, which is amazing. They've also added a market full of local products at their tasting room location. They do craft cocktails, fire pits, you name it. It's truly become a destination and everything that Lisa and her family have done to make Old Westminster Winery what it is today is honestly really inspiring. So they are definitely one to watch. 

Meaghan Malinowski:

If we were making a list of wineries that were our favorites in Maryland, they would have made that list for me. I am a huge fan. I love that when I come across the bridge, that's somewhere that we can meet and hang outside. The pizza oven was definitely an awesome addition, especially during COVID. They have so much cool outdoor seating and their wines are just really good.

Jenny Kreisher:

Their wines are fantastic for sure. So for all those listening, we're going to include them in the show notes, but you can find Old Westminster on Instagram @oldwestminsterwinery and Lisa's Instagram is @lisahintonn

Meaghan Malinowski: 

Well, so far I did not have either one of those on my list. So, let's see who your number three is. 

Marji Guyler-Alaniz of FarmHer

Jenny Kreisher: 

All right. Number three, my girl Marji from FarmHer. Marji Guyler-Alaniz was actually on the podcast not too long ago and I had the privilege of interviewing her. She's a fellow woman in ag storyteller. Definitely check out her podcast interview at mafc.com/podcasts. For a little bit of Marji's background, she started FarmHer with the goal of sharing the impact women have had on the industry, so exactly what we're trying to do with this podcast today. Today, her media empire as I like to call it includes her own podcast and blog. She’s got a TV show on RFD-TV. She sells some really cool merch and all kinds of other fun stuff. She travels all around the country speaking with women in ag to learn more about their operations and their plans for the future. Fun fact about Marji- all, or I guess I should say most, of the artwork that you'll find on FarmHer merchandise is actually designed by Marji. She's also a little bit of a graphic designer as well.

Meaghan Malinowski: 

That's so cool. A little bit of everything. 

Jenny Kreisher:

A little bit of everything, yes. You can follow her on Instagram. The tag is @farmher1, which again we'll include in the show notes, but she's definitely fun to watch.

Meaghan Malinowski:

And that was a fun interview to listen to as well. I did not know that deep into her background so you guys should definitely go and download that and give it a listen. And with that, we're going to queue up Jenny's number four. 

Mary Heffernan of Five Marys Farms

Jenny Kreisher:

All right. Number four, Mary Heffernan of Five Marys Farms. I don't know if you've heard of Five Marys Farms, but they are based in Northern California. Mary is a rancher, entrepreneur, writer, blogger, you name it and she has probably done it. The really cool thing about Five Marys Farms is it's named that because Mary and all four of her daughters are all named Mary.

Meaghan Malinowski:

Oh, wow. That makes sense. 

Jenny Kreisher:

Right? That's why I thought that was so cool. Each of them go by a nickname, which is based on their middle names. 

Meaghan Malinowski:

I love that!

Jenny Kreisher:

I know, that's pretty neat.  Mary, the mother Mary I should say, has always been passionate about her community and finding ways to fill any gaps that she sees in hers. That’s really led to her entrepreneurial spirit, which started with the summer camp when she was just a kid herself. After graduating college, she went on to create more businesses often with children in mind, which included a restaurant that was really focused on being kid-friendly. When they started the restaurant, her husband Brian found that they were spending a lot of time trying to source local high quality meats, which inspired them to start getting into ranching. Today, they're highly successful business owners. They've got cookbooks and another restaurant. They do a ton and Mary does an awesome job documenting all of it. Not only on the business side, but of her four daughters and all of the fun things they get into on the farm.  I actually learned when doing some research for this podcast that in 2018 they were actually named Best Farm in America.

Meaghan Malinowski:

Oh, wow. 

Jenny Kreisher:

Yes, I thought that was pretty incredible.

Meaghan Malinowski:

What an honor! I love that. Well, now we are four for four with not matching any at all. Jenny, this is crazy. I can't wait to hear who your number five is.

Emily Shaw of Dairy Girl Fitness

Jenny Kreisher:

I'm not going to lie, I really thought we'd have one. My fifth and final, again this was so hard, but I went with Emily Shaw a.k.a. Dairy Girl Fitness. I went with Emily for a few reasons. Number one, she went to Penn State, so hello fellow Penn State fan here. She’s a personal trainer and a PA dairy girl. She actually grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, and she now lives in Florida. Along with offering personal coaching and nutrition training, she’s a huge advocate for the dairy industry, sharing facts about dairy farming on her Instagram, which is @dairygirlfitness. Both of her parents grew up on dairy farms and she did as well. She actually grew up raising heifers for 4-H and FFA, went to Penn State to study Ag Business Management and Dairy Science. Many of her family members are still farming today in Pennsylvania, so she's kind of a local girl too. She's really funny and she posts a lot of really great educational workout videos and nutrition tips. She's just super encouraging and I'm not going to lie, any personal trainer that advocates for me to eat ice cream has my vote.

Meaghan Malinowski:

I'm in, how do I sign up?

Jenny Kreisher:

Right!?

Meaghan Malinowski:

I would love to see what that meal plan looks like. 

Jenny Kreisher:

I know, right! She offers group training opportunities on her website dairygirlfitness.com and she is another good one to watch. 

Kelly Barb of Prancing Deer Farm

Meaghan Malinowski:

Awesome. Well, I am excited to tell you about my list, especially since you haven't said any of them. I'm going to go ahead and just jump right in. My number one, I’m sure you could guess I've been talking about her since the day I met her. Her name is Kelly Barb and she is with Prancing Deer Farm in Warwick, Maryland. I met Kelly back in May of 2019 and I was inspired by her story from the very start. She is a chemical engineer by education and she started a Christmas tree farm and outdoor event center. I think for me the coolest aspect of her business is the collaboration that she does with local photographers, event planners and other entertainment groups. I think she's done goat yoga and all kinds of stuff, and you know how much I love goat yoga. I loved hearing her story and how she really was concerned with getting outside and making sure that she wasn't spending her whole day in the office and behind a desk. Her parents are very involved in the Christmas Tree Farm.  They have cows, goats and they are really interested in creating their little oasis that they can share with everybody else. I think the coolest thing for me was that she started to branch out and reach new people when she posted on social media about her farm. She started posting photos and a lot of local photographers reached out and would ask if they could come out and do a photo shoot there.  She said yes and she got to use those images as well. I just love the collaboration aspect and what that does for the marketing of it, you know?

Jenny Kreisher: 

Absolutely, I think she does a fantastic job. I unfortunately couldn't make that interview, but I know you and our colleague Morgan came back gushing about Kelly's story. I do hope to meet her one day.

Meaghan Malinowski:

I am hoping to get her on the podcast later this year, so that would be super exciting. 

Jenell Eck of McHenry's Beef

Meaghan Malinowski:

Going into my number two and she is a local girl to the shore. Her name is Jenell Eck with McHenry’s Beef in Kennedyville, Maryland. I put Jenell on here because we've worked with her a lot at MAFC in several different ways. We're always at the same events and she's just so ingrained in ag here on the shore with different events. When her and I connected on Facebook and on Instagram, I realized that she actually helps to run their beef company and they provide local beef to the surrounding areas. I love watching her Instagram and her Facebook updates because she is such a strong advocate for educating consumers and helping to run their beef operation in such a transparent way. You can find them on Instagram @mchenrysbeef. They do such a good job of behind the scenes look, giving you an idea of where your food comes from and I love that.

Jenny Kreisher:

I love that too. I am adding her to my follow list now. 

Meaghan Malinowski:

Yes, 100%. 

Shelby Smith of Gym-N-Eat Crickets

Meaghan Malinowski:

Number three, I think you might cringe a little bit, not at her, but at what she's growing because I did a little bit. Her name is Shelby Smith and her company is called Gym-N-Eat Crickets. 

Jenny Kreisher:

I'm sorry, what's that?

Meaghan Malinowski:

Gym-N-Eat Crickets, like G-Y-M. She's from Iowa, so she isn't in our service territory, but I had to share her on my list because I think she's doing something really cool in the space of innovation and working really hard to normalize alternative proteins. Michael introduced me to her because he grew up with her.  I was super interested because you know crickets have been a topic of discussion as far as proteins for human consumption or animal consumption. It still kind of makes my skin crawl a little bit, just the thought of it, but I pushed myself and I ordered a bunch of her energy bars that she makes. She's also big on testing different recipes and they were really, really good, so I had to put her on here. I love her Instagram and her website. She showcases a lot of the behind the scenes of raising the crickets and the stores that sell her product. She's always promoting them, the people that buy and try them. She's very informative, very relatable and I love the educational approach to marketing. Crickets seem really good for you the way she puts it out there. I might try it again. I don't know.

Jenny Kreisher:

I have a lot of questions for her and I would love to get her on the podcast. That's such an interesting field to get into. I think I would try them.

Meaghan Malinowski:

The way she makes them I don't think you would even be able to tell. Somebody could probably sneak you one and you probably wouldn't have any idea, they're definitely very good. She grew up on her family farm and her dad encouraged her to find her own niche of farming which I thought was fun too.

Lindsey Buckman of Assateague Farm 

Meaghan Malinowski:

I'm going to go into my number four. Her name is Lindsey Buckman of Assateague Farm in Berlin, Maryland. When I lived in Berlin, we took lots of trips to Assateague Island to go to the beach and on the way there's this little cottage that is surrounded by a mass of flowers and plants. It's very, very cozy looking and I fell in love with it. Every time we would drive by, I was always looking to see what's new and what's out there. I looked them up on Instagram and Lindsey Buckman has done an amazing job at showing the behind the scenes of their family farm and creating such a beautiful place for people to window shop on Instagram and her website. The in-person shopping is obviously just as beautiful. She's got so much going on there, but they have really fun activities as well. You would think being that close to the beach, you might not have enough space, but they've got a really great farm stand. They've got you-pick fruits, cut flower garden and they also have two goats, Cosmo and Jasmine. So naturally I am basically obsessed.

Jenny Kreisher:

Okay, this is the second one that had goats so I'm picking up a theme here. 

Meaghan Malinowski:

Yeah, you've known that for a long time though. For anybody else, if there's anybody out there that wants to let me borrow their goats for a little while, I totally would and I would love them so hard.

Emma Cunniff of Kneehigh Farm

Meaghan Malinowski:

Finally, number five for me is Emma Cunniff of Kneehigh Farm in South Coventry, PA. I came across Kneehigh’s website and Instagram when I first started here at MAFC because I was doing a lot of research on CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in our area and I have followed them ever since. They are 100% women owned and operated, which is super cool. They're constantly educating people on what they grow, why they grow it and what they do with it. I think one of the most interesting ones recently is that they grew indigo and then they use it to dye fabrics and clothing. I thought that was really cool. They're always pushing for the local movement and getting food to places that don't have a lot of fresh food. That is the epitome of girl power to me, 100% women owned and operated.

Jenny Kreisher:

I love it. That's another one to check out for sure. A wonderful story.

Meaghan Malinowski:

Yeah, for sure. So we've got 10 women or 10 women owned operations that we're going to have in this episode's notes for you. I love it so much. I wish we could have all of them on the podcast now and talk to them.

Jenny Kreisher:

I know. I would love to ask our listeners to please share their favorites with us as well. You can do so by heading over to mafc.com/podcast or emailing us directly at podcast@mafc.com.If you've got someone that would make a great interview or have a fantastic woman in ag story to share, we would love to hear from you.

Meaghan Malinowski:

Usually we sign off each episode talking about what our guests advocates for in agriculture, but we decided that we want to make this segment a little bit different because we both would like to advocate for something super important for women, men, everyone. We are advocating for mental health during this month.  I did a little bit of researching because I was curious to see what the numbers were. I learned that women are twice as likely to experience anxiety than men. It is not that surprising to me, but I was definitely interested in that aspect of it. After this past year, I don't know about you Jenny, but I have been battling my anxiety uphill and downhill. It's kind of like a roller coaster, but I do think it's really nice to know that we offer a free Member Assistance Program that can help with so many different things that affect your mental health.

Jenny Kreisher:

Yeah, you're absolutely right, Meag. I mean this past year has been unexpected to say the least, and we know that our members are really feeling it from all sides. We added our Member Assistance Program to our lineup of member benefits where you can get all kinds of free resources for counseling related to marital issues, parental aging, and managing work-life balance. There's legal and financial services, identity theft protection and so many other helpful tools available.

Meaghan Malinowski:

It’s 100% anonymous for anyone who needs it, so you can access all of those resources. Head to mafc.com/map to learn more and to get the log in information. Once you get in there, you'll click the button to access the page at mygroup.com and then you'll click on my portal log in and then work life. We have all of that on the website, so just head to mafc.com/map to learn more and take care of yourself.

Jenny Kreisher:

Meag, this was a really fun interview. Thank you for inviting me on for this. I think this was a really great way to share some of our favorite women in ag and I'm looking forward to learning about more this month.

Meaghan Malinowski:

Absolutely! We have such a long list of people we can reach out to now and we can have individual interviews with them too. So thanks for joining me! And until next time everyone, keep on advocating for what you believe in. 

Jenny Kreisher:

If you did like this interview, we would love if you would rate, review, subscribe and share this with a friend. You can get all of the notes from this podcast including all the links to the amazing women that we talked about today over at mafc.com/podcast. Like I mentioned earlier, we'd love to hear from you so feel free to email Meag and I at podcast@mafc.com. Thanks everyone. keep on advocating!