“If we would all just slow down, take a deep breath, and listen for a moment, we are able to find a lot of beauty in people and the world around us. People who disagree with us are not enemies, they are just people with a different point of view.” Emily Zweber, organic dairy farmer and Executive Director of the AgChat Foundation.
Emily Zweber is a rare gem in the world. She balances tough dialogue with class and integrity. She provides for her family, helps on her family’s organic dairy farm, just south of Minneapolis, Minnesota at Elko. Emily takes on food and farming issues and bridges together audiences that may not see eye to eye but can find commonalities and connections. She rallies others to give back and selflessly gives of her time for causes she cares about deeply. And she once sold me a hog on Twitter and ever since then we fill our freezer with a Zweber Farms pork chops, ham, bacon, brats and more each fall.
Emily has fresh ideas and I believe she is changing agriculture for the better. To me, it has nothing to do whether she milks 80 cows or 800 cows or 8,000 cows, organic or conventional. Emily doesn’t preach from a mountaintop as an organic evangelist. She doesn’t belittle conventional farmers. Emily is inclusive, supportive and defines who she is and why. She doesn’t pit one agriculture practice against another. But when needed she certainly defends what the Zweber family does on their farm and why.
I admire that I can always count on Emily. In early October, I was driving down an open highway after being stranded in South Dakota during the tragic blizzard that killed thousands of head of livestock. I called Emily and said, “We need to do something.” But I wasn’t sure what it should be. Asking Emily was the jumpstart. Within in 24 hours, Emily along with Jenny Schweigert had spearheaded the AgChat Foundation’s Rancher Relief effort that included hundreds of personal donations and a $50,000 donation from Tyson Foods. They organized an online Rancher Relief Twitter chat and every tweet donated $10 to the effort from Tyson. The AgChat Foundation pushed back their annual fall fundraising until 2014 to raise money for ranchers. Emily could have said, “We can’t help this time” or “I’m too busy”. But she didn’t. She just dove in and helped, quickly. That exemplifies Emily Zweber and her depth of character. I am honored to feature her today as a woman in agriculture.
What is your role in agriculture today? My husband and I co-own operate an organic dairy farm with my in-laws. On Zweber Farms, I relief milk once a week. My husband and I joke that this is our “date” night because it is the one night a week that we get to be together without the kids. I also manage our farm’s website, Facebook and YouTube presence. I am also serve as the executive director of AgChat Foundation. AgChat Foundation a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities using social media platforms.
How has agriculture shaped your life? I grew up on hobby farm and have a degree in Agriculture Economics and International Marketing, but agriculture really changed my life when I married a dairy farmer.
What excites you about your community? My life in agriculture is heavily integrated with social media. I just love that I can meet farmers, ranchers and all eaters online and form real relationships with people who are interesting and caring. Social media has opened my world to new thoughts, relationships, and opportunities. There are many people who I have met online and now exchange Christmas cards with, including Katie.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? Every day! I love to cook and don’t follow many recipes (sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad). Today, I am trying a new email marketing tool and listening to a new podcast (not exciting to many, but exciting to me!)
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? I try to listen to others as much as possible and give them the benefit of the doubt. A true friend would do the same for me.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? If I am cooking, roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, fresh green salad, and a big glass of milk. If someone else is cooking (i.e my Mom), stuffed shells
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? There is too much hate in the world. Much of the hate and stress, in my opinion, is due to our inability to connect with others. If we would all just slow down, take a deep breath, and listen for a moment, we are able to find a lot of beauty in people and the world around us. People who disagree with us are not enemies, they are just people with a different point of view.
What makes you smile? My husband’s humor. Flowers and pie.
Subscribe by email to receive an update and a promise of no spam on this 30 Days of Women in Agriculture series. The response to this has been tremendously positive. We might end up with 300 Days of Women in Agriculture.
Also I currently have this giveaway available through tonight, November 14, for two winners of holiday baked goods, shipped to your door. And now you are hungry. Winners will be announced tomorrow morning right here, on this blog.
Earlier Women in Agriculture features this month include:
November 1: Introducing 30 Days of Women in Agriculture
For a listing of all the 30 Days Bloggers my friend Holly Spangler rounded up, visit here.