Local farmer credits continuing education as major source of success

A woman farmer is standing and smiling behind her display of sunflowers

Pinewoods Yankee Farm in Lee is a thriving local business. Founded in 1990 with an Angus herd purchased from the University of New Hampshire, Tina and Erick Sawtelle have built a diverse and thriving operation featuring grass-fed beef, compost and floral design. Tina Sawtelle '86 says the key to their success has been continuing education.

"When you're farming and self-employed, workshops and conferences are an opportunity to seek support and network with a like-minded group of people, and that feeds your ability to keep on keeping on," she says. "We take advantage of as many opportunities offered by Cooperative Extension as we can."

In 2014, Sawtelle took part in an all-female educational farm management program called Annie's Project, coordinated by Cooperative Extension. 

"The small group setting was instrumental for sharing, communication, learning and support," she says. Sawtelle also forged connections to a larger network she continues to tap today.

The mission of Annie's Project is to empower women farmers interested in managing financial, marketing, legal, human and production risks. It's a comfortable and supportive learning environment focused on farm business management best practices  and networking.

"Being a successful self-employed farmer means staying inspired and engaged," Sawtelle says. "I wholeheartedly believe it's critical to our success in farming and entrepreneurship. Gaining new knowledge and skills is a lifelong adventure."

This story originally appeared in the 2017 edition of Radius.