A workshop designed by women and for women – that was the inaugural launch of Women and Their Woods on April 27-29 held at Riverledge Farm in Grafton. Vermont Woodlands Association’s planning team had been hard at work for almost a year putting the program together and the weekend workshop delivered everything we had hoped for.
The weekend was a wonderful mix of indoor presentations, outdoor hikes, fabulous food, and great conversation. The weather could not have been more cooperative. Although a bit cool, there was enough wind to keep the bugs at bay and enough sunshine to keep us all smiling. Saturday and Sunday each began with early morning hikes for wildflowers and birds followed by a full breakfast feast. VWA’s planning team composed of Ginger Anderson, Lynn Levine, and Kathy Beland identified the topics of importance and helped to recruit additional expertise. Other presenters included Caitlin Cusack, Katie Manaras, Jeanne Giddings, and Addison Kasmarek. Topics covered throughout the weekend were woods’ safety, tools for making your way in the woods (map and compass estate planning, invasives and First Detector, Current Use and management plans, tree identification, harvesting aesthetics, the “knock on the door,” and habitat with birds in mind.
Some might ask why we restricted this to women and that’s a valid question. Across the nation, the landowner demographic is changing. Women are finding themselves as sole landowners by both circumstance and choice. And while not everyone believes that women learn differently than men, I can tell you that they relate to each other differently, especially if it is a group of strictly women. The twenty women who attended the workshop built the foundation of ongoing relationships that will foster critical networking. Plans are already underway for a listserv, blog, photo gallery, and woodland tour – spearheaded by attendees rather than workshop planners.
If VWA learned anything from this weekend, it was that Women and Their Woods is here to stay. Our attendees were clear that this program provided them information in a very accessible format but more importantly, gave them the beginnings of a network with other female landowners. Whether single women owning forestland by choice or widowed women owning forestland by circumstance, everyone connected on some level and appreciated meeting each other. We owe a debt of thanks to everyone who participated as a planner, presenter, or attendee as all contributed to our success. Special thanks to Sidney Craven and Director Susan Hindinger, our hosts at the Riverledge Farm. The facility and hospitality were exceptional.