Annie’s Project: Enpowering female farmers
Annie Kohlhagen-Fleck was working as school teacher when she met her husband Frank in the mid-1940s. He was a farmer, and she spent her life from the time they married in 1947 until her death in 2007 caring for milk cows and chickens and raising her four children. She learned about farming, money management and crop insurance through trial and error, what her daughter Ruth Hambleton calls “the hard way” not having grown up on a farm or having access to resources to help guide her through the complicated world of crop insurance and bookkeeping.
In 2003, Ruth founded Annie’s Project, in honor of her mother, to help women learn to manage farming operations alongside other women.
Guest host Todd Gleason talks to Ruth about Annie’s story, the project and how it’s helped empower more women to become stakeholders in agriculture. Stephanie Butcher, who manages the business for her family’s 2200 acre grain operation in Mt. Auburn, Illinois, also joins our conversation. She says taking Annie’s Project classes have been invaluable in helping her get involved with farming and learning about agriculture marketing and business. She took over the books and the business side of running her family’s farm in 2008 after enrolling in an Annie’s Project class. Even though she grew up on a farm, she says she didn’t learn anything about the business aspect of farming