Saturday, April 11, 2009

See Jane Grow Workshop

Today we have a guest writer on Cheese Country Realtors. Lisa Kivirist is a local author and environmentalist who is a good friend of ours. She and her husband, John Ivanko, own Inn Serendipity, the eco-B&B we have mentioned often in this space. Lisa is also director of the Rural Women's Project, and she is doing a free workshop later this month here in Monroe.

Positive change is brewing in America’s countryside with women-owned businesses growing at twice the national rate. Women also constitute one of the largest, fastest-growing groups purchasing farms today. These trends will be showcased at an upcoming free seminar, “See Jane Grow,” in Monroe on April 30 at 6:00 pm. The interactive seminar offers support to existing women ecopreneurs and those who hold dreams of launching their own business related to food and agriculture.

“From farmers to food artisans, from mompreneurs to retail business owners, women launching green business prioritize more than profit,” explains Lisa Kivirist, co-author of the award-winning book, ECOpreneuring and local innkeeper of Inn Serendipity in Browntown, Wisconsin. Inn Serendipity, a nationally-recognized bed and breakfast, features local, seasonal cuisine and is completely powered by the wind and the sun. “These women ecopreneurs see their business as a tool to transform local communities through changing the food system, emphasizing cooperation over competition, land stewardship and meaning over simply earning a living, and often, integrating their children and family into their livelihood,” adds Kivirist.

Kivirist directs the Rural Women’s Project, a venture of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, and will be facilitating this “See Jane Grow” seminar in Monroe and throughout Wisconsin. This seminar brings together various tools, resources and networking opportunities for women to help champion both new start-ups and showcase the stories of successful women already running such businesses that promote healthy and fresh foods, sustainable agriculture, and a vibrant local economy.

“Women in Green County with existing businesses as well as those seeking to start new ventures are encouraged to attend this free event,” explains Cara Carper, Green County UW Extension Educator. “Encouraging such small, green micro-enterprise start-ups will help stimulate positive economic vibrancy in our community by creating self-employment opportunities that also contribute to a healthy, local food system,” adds Carper. During the last recession from 2000 to 2003, micro-enterprise employment grew in Wisconsin while it fell for other employers.

“I started my business because I’m passionate about crafting a livelihood that enables me to steward the land, raise healthy food for my community, express my creative side and share this venture with my family,” explains Kriss Marion, a farmer who will be featured at the April 30 “See Jane Grow” seminar in Monroe. Marion is owner of Circle M in Blanchardville, Wisconsin, where she raises diversified produce and meats as well as Maid Marion, a fiber and educational enterprise. “We rural women ecopreneurs need more opportunities like this upcoming workshop to connect and network with each other and share resources and ideas,” continues Marion.

The “See Jane Grow” seminar will be start at 6:00 pm on Thursday, April 30 and be held at Kookaburras, a culinary and gourmet food shop locally owned by Laura Winters (1609 10th Street, North Side of Monroe Square). A networking reception follows the seminar, featuring locally-produced foods by area women food artisans. The event is co-sponsored by Green County UW-Extension, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Blackhawk Technical College and the Green County Development Corporation. The session is free but space is limited. Pre-registration is required through Cara Carper, UW-Extension

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