Last week I attended a presentation at a neighboring town's library by a Community Fund, based in Albany. I had heard a great deal about groups like this - a good, local source of both training and funding for small businesses. The small room was packed with people from youngsters to oldsters. The trio who presented the information were relaxed, well-informed, and well-spoken. They teased questions from the audience - as I'm sure a lot of you know, small town, rural folks tend to be less inclined to speaking than they are to listening. But the Fund people were very good at what they do, and before long, hands rose around the room and frustrations bubbled up about regulations, confusing terms, fear of business plans and red tape, the lack of good employees. The Fund people encouraged discussion and made notes, their goal being to go back to their office and put together answers to our questions and needs.
One of the themes that kept circulating around the room, was the need for a way to network with the many talented people in a community. As everyone around the room introduced themselves, there appeared an accountant, a business plan writer, a lawyer, a handyman, a housecleaner, a school bus driver, a couple of farmers, a family with entrepreneurial sons, a mechanic. It was clear that there is a need for a venue for networking in the community.
That got me thinking (and talking to Mel, who attended with me) about how great it would be to form a network of farming/homesteading women as a resource to all. There are so many smart, creative women out here that know so much - have worked out all the kinks and have found better ways to do things. As is apparent from all the homesteading wannabes (myself included) and fledgling farmettes, this seems to be a trend that is gaining strength. There is a lot of mis-information out there as well. That is one of the drawbacks of trends. When something is hot, everyone wants in on it and pretty soon the market is flooded with books and blogs and t-shirts from people who can sure market themselves, but don't have the sense to come in out of the rain. Or bring their livestock in either.
I am curious as to how many of you have had or have been mentors. I am very lucky because I have smart, creative friends who have had a headstart on me and have been willing and generous with their knowledge. What do you think about such a project - a network of farming women?