By Marlee Moore
Steady laughter, storytelling and sweet fellowship lifted the spirits of more than 200 attendees at the Alabama Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Conference April 6-7 in Birmingham.
Social media sensation and cookbook author Brenda Gantt headlined the event, coordinated by the Federation State Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC). Her belly-laugh-inducing talk touched on cooking tips, hospitality and finding joy.
“Joy and happiness are not the same thing,” said Andalusia resident Gantt. “Joy is when, deep down, you have a peace that God is in control. Happiness comes and goes. You can be happy all day long, but someone can call you and make you sad. But if you’ve got that inner joy, that will make all the difference in the world.”
Gantt encouraged ladies to invest in their communities through civic clubs, Bible studies and potlucks.
“It doesn’t matter what you serve; people just want to get together,” she said. “Don’t feel like everything has to be neat. Be a lifter of spirits through your hospitality.”
During the conference, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) WLC member Lou Nave updated attendees on national activities. Nave, a Tennessee farmer who represents AFBF’s Southern Region, thanked fellow Southerners for spreading the message of food and fiber production.
“In agriculture, we have spent way more time ridiculing rather than promoting,” Nave said. “As women leaders, we can share accurate information about agriculture with our friends and people we meet outside our friend groups.
“We all look a little different, but I see leaders from front to back,” Nave added during her breakfast presentation to representatives from across Alabama.
Attendees also heard updates on Federation programming and legislative efforts. The group celebrated the recently passed 2022 Farm Package, which helps improve life for Alabama farmers.
The Women’s Leadership Conference and Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon and Program converged April 7. County WLC members are often pivotal to Farm-City county-level success.
FarmPAC-endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate Katie Britt spoke during lunch. Britt, a mom of two who was raised in Coffee County, thanked the crowd for their conservative values and dedication to making Alabama better for the next generation.
“The values this group holds so dear are the values we have got to go to D.C. and fight for,” she said.
Following afternoon excursions across the Magic City, conference attendees gathered to hear Shari Braendel, a fashion expert and Christian author from North Carolina.
State WLC Chair Lydia Haynes presided over the conference and encouraged ladies to take their refreshed outlook back to their farms, communities and counties.
“We want to be valuable to the women in our counties and show them how valuable our committees are,” said Haynes, a Cullman County farmer. “I thoroughly enjoyed our conference this year and believe we all have a better sense of self after hearing from Brenda and Shari. They were an encouragement.”