As the number of women landowners continues to rise, the need for targeted resources and support also increases. A free workshop, “Women Caring for the Land: Conservation Learning Circles,” specifically supports women who own farmland but do not live there and might rent it to an area farmer. These sessions connect women landowners to conservation resources along with other women landowners in similar situations. Workshops will take place April 24 in Madison and May 1 in Elkhorn.
Women now farm or co-farm more than 300 million acres of U.S. land — about a third of the nation’s farmland — and own an additional 87 million acres, according to the Farmland Information Center. Over the next 20 years, 371 million acres of farmland are expected to change hands as farmers retire or leave their land to the next generation. Research shows that many women farmers and landowners share a strong commitment to conservation; however, they face gender barriers that impact their ability to manage their land for long-term sustainability.
“While women increasingly are the key decision-makers on farms, the data, unfortunately, shows they are underrepresented in conservation program participation,” said Lisa Kivirist, coordinator of these Women Caring for the Land sessions and author of “Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers.” “For non-operator women farmland owners, in particular, some may find it intimidating to talk with their seasoned farmer tenants, especially when it comes to topics like conservation. These Women Caring for the Land sessions uniquely aim to connect women landowners with both each other, along with agency women representing a variety of conservation programs and initiatives in a learning circle format conducive to how women learn best.”
Facilitated by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, the Wisconsin sessions are part of a larger, seven-state initiative led by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The April 24 workshop in Madison takes place at the USDA Office at 8030 Excelsior Drive. On May 1, the same program will be offered at the NRCS Elkhorn Service Center for Walworth County at 225 O’Connor Drive. The workshop will be offered from 8 to 10 a.m. over breakfast and repeated from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. over lunch.
Women landowners can choose the session that’s convenient for their schedule. Women Caring for the Land is free for women landowners to attend, but space is limited and preregistration is required.
To register, visit mosesorganic.org/in-her-boots/events/#wcl or call the MOSES office at 715-778-5775. For more information or to be notified about similar trainings in the future, contact Lisa Kivirist, project coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-329-7056 (farm office).