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Review: Soil Sisters, a Toolkit for Women Farmers

The organic food movement isn’t going anywhere. Year after year, market share for sustainably grown, locally sourced produce expands to unprecedented levels. And this trend is directly impacting one big demographic.

Women.

All around the country, female farmers are reclaiming the agricultural industry. While the number of farms in America is in decline, the number of female farmers has doubled in recent years. Now almost 30% of farms in the US  are run by woman. And these woman are changing the game.

Less interested in planting thousands of acres of mono-crops, female farmers are overwhelmingly turning to smaller scale, sustainable techniques and diversification, both in the plants they grow and their income streams. Female farmers are more likely to grow organically, sell locally, and find increasingly creative ways to make money while doing it.

Soil Sisters
How She Sows It: profiles of female farmers

Lisa Kivirist taps into that growing enthusiasm with her book Soil Sisters: a Toolkit for Woman Farmers. Relying on her own years of experience and the experiences of dozens of other women, Kivirist has amassed a collection of helpful tips and resources that can benefit anyone looking to delve deeper into the agrarian lifestyle and make some money while doing it.

This book reads like a garden workshop held with all the women you want as your best friends. The writing is peppy and the text is filled with fun pictures, tidbits of advice and fascinating short stories about inspiring female farmers. I read through the book quickly, caught up in the excitement of learning what these passionate women were going to accomplish next. Even so, each chapter left me wanting to toss the book aside, grab my notebook and begin to draft my own plans for a future farm business. (What that business would entail for me seemed to change with each chapter as well).

Soil Sisters
Tool Shed sections have practical advice and resource tips

Be like me and read it cover to cover, or use it like an encyclopedia to get advice at different stages in your farming venture. This text works in both formats.

While I appreciated the broad scope of Kivirist’s writing, I also found myself wishing she would go deeper on many topics. Because her subject is the general topic of females in farming, her book attempts to cover everyone from the second career cattle rancher moving back to the 800 acre family farm to the young urbanite growing specialty greens in her raised beds. In attempting to be comprehensive enough to include everyone, sometimes Kivirist loses her relevance to the individual. For example, I was eager to read about how farming and writing could tie together in a business sense because this is obviously Kivirist’s specialty. Sadly the subject was given only a few short paragraphs. Sometimes I found myself skimming through much of a chapter to read the few paragraphs that pertained to me.

Nonetheless I came away with some strong information and useful tips I have never heard anywhere else. I now know to search Youtube in an Eastern European language when I need a clever, low tech solution to a homestead problem and that selling goat cheese is immensely more regulated than selling goats milk soap. I want to make more pizza in my earth oven, carve pumpkins and put them on stakes and buy hand tools made specifically for my female body type.

In Kivirist’s book, strength comes from the details- the little pieces of advice that pop out and stick in your mind to be mulled over long after the book’s been put down. It’s an inspiring read that I recommend to anyone wondering what it would look like to begin their own farm or farming business, be they female or otherwise.

Soil SIsters

 

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2 thoughts on “Review: Soil Sisters, a Toolkit for Women Farmers

    1. You know, I actually read her book years ago and loved it. In some ways, it was part of my inspiration to start my own personal blog. I loved what Suzanne was able to do for herself with only the drive to succeed. Maybe I’ll have to go and meet her in person one of these days. 🙂

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