If you want people to gather in friendship, put out food. That’s what the AWA, – Association of Women in Agriculture, did this weekend at the stock pavilion at UW-Madison. ‘Breakfast on the Farm‘ is the AWA’s annual fund-raiser. And these college women served up pancakes, eggs, sausages, hot coffee, Wisconsin cheese samples, and Babcock ice cream sundaes to a long line of hungry Wisconsinites.
They also delivered hearty helpings of entertainment on an outdoor stage set up in front of the folks enjoying breakfast. Inside the pavilion, children petted baby farm animals and pretended to gather eggs from chickens, drive tractors, and tend a vegetable stand at the farmer’s market. This event highlighted some of the essential contributions women make on today’s farms. At the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UW-Madison, these women and their male classmates are learning to apply today’s scientific research to future agricultural practice.
Some Wisconsin Family Farm Facts: Most members of the Association of Women in Agriculture grew up on Wisconsin farms. Like their mothers, they know the long, hard work of raising and preserving fruits and vegetables for summer sale and year-round home consumption. They’ve been responsible for the care, and sometimes the breeding, of the livestock. They’ve likely helped in the corn, soybean, and hay fields during planting and harvest seasons. If they return to farm-life after college, they’ll probably assume management of farm finances. If they accept office jobs, their employment will likely remain in the agricultural industry. They’ll work to integrate Wisconsin farm products and workers with food research, production, and distribution on national and international scales. And most of them will do all this while maintaining a house and caring for children. You see, Wisconsin women in agriculture not only raise food for the world, they raise the next generation of food producers.
The nostalgic images of a relaxed, bucolic life on a Wisconsin dairy farm may attract tourists, but they’re foreign to Wisconsin farmers. Wisconsin’s vibrant agricultural industry is changing fast to produce more food, more safely, for more more people, and in more sustainable, environmentally-responsible ways. Hold on to your hats, women in agriculture, – you’re in for a wild ride! And thank you for all that you do.
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