Annie’s Project New Jersey
Annie’s Project is a risk management educational program for women farmers that began in the Midwest and spread throughout the country. It is based on a real woman farmer Annette Fleck, who spent her lifetime learning how to be an involved business partner with her farmer husband. Her daughter, Ruth Hambleton, who became a Cooperative Extension educator in Illinois, created Annie’s Project.
New Jersey's Farm Management Training for Women program evolved out of two focus group meetings with women farmers. Annie’s farm management experiences were shared with over 130 women farmers beginning in February 2011 through courses in Cape May County (Cape May Court House), Warren County (Hackettstown), and Somerset County (Bridgewater).
Problem solving, record keeping, and decision-making skills for women farmers. Professors from Rutgers University and farm professionals teach budgeting and cash flow, farm transfer and estate planning, business planning, understanding farm insurance policies, creating a positive work environment, generational issues and action planning.
Due to high demand, this program was offered for the second year and has met with great success. In 2012, courses were held in Cumberland County (Bridgeton), Somerset County (Bridgewater), and Burlington County (Bordentown). Participants reported “You have opened my eyes to topics I had not thought important to my farm,” and “I look forward to meeting with our group each week.”
Annie’s Project gives New Jersey women farmers the tools to help them succeed by focusing on five areas of farm risk marketing and pricing, production risk, financial management, human and personal risk, and legal risk. The course covered a wide range of topics including personal finance and business management practices, developing marketing plans, farm transfer and estate planning, using social media, advertising and media outreach, production record keeping and food safety issues.
Participants learn about becoming better risk takers and risk managers in the production, marketing, financial, legal and human resource areas of farming. Topics fostered problem solving, record keeping, and decision-making skills. At our past conferences Professors from Rutgers University and farm professionals taught family finances, budgeting and cash flow, important financial documents, farm transfer and estate planning, business planning, understanding farm insurance policies, creating a positive work environment, motivating and retaining employees, leadership assessment and skills, generational issues and action planning.
Annie’s Project New Jersey is unique in that participants focused on creating farm business plans, used social media education for marketing and business development, employed social media tools to assist in networking during the sessions as well as after graduation and recorded asynchronous education modules which is available to all farmers.
The combination of in-person education and distance learning with Annie’s Project 2012 has brought farm business management education to more women farmers across the Garden State. The live sessions were broadcast and recorded each week, allowing women to watch a lecturer from over 100 miles away. A key component of the program was women networking with other women in the workshop and sharing ideas. This unique opportunity brought together an equine professional from one end of the state and a hay grower from another end, a farm market owner and a market grower from neighboring counties, and alpaca breeders who had never met before, only to realize how many similar experiences they have had.
Participants have used their business plans to add new enterprises, secure farm loans, and develop websites, Facebook pages, and point-of-purchase materials for their farms. Annie’s Project New Jersey fostered problem solving, record keeping, and decision-making skills in farm women. Graduates have continued to meet to continue learning about aspects important to women farmers, to network with each other and have farm tours.
Funding for Annie’s Project in New Jersey is provided by the Northeast Center for Risk Management Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Credit East and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Cooperating agencies include Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; USDA's Farm Service Agency; New Jersey Farm Bureau; New Jersey Department of Agriculture; and county Boards of Chosen Freeholders.
For more information about Annie’s Project in New Jersey,
contact Robin Brumfield, Ph.D. or Jenny Carleo.