With “reinvention” the theme during the COVID pandemic, a silver lining is the opportunity to create new online resources to take the place of traditional in-person training. Such is the case with the release of the new Women Caring for the Land resources to teach women landowners about conservation strategies to protect and improve their land. The free resources include case studies, podcast conversations, and a June 18 webinar all from the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). Find them all at mosesorganic.org/women-caring-for-the-land.
Women now farm or co-farm over 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.
“The current shift to online education gives us an opportunity to cast a wider net and showcase even more of the inspiring stories of Wisconsin women landowners and educators supporting conservation and still keep the spirit of our typical in-person programming celebrating how women learn best from each other,” explained Lisa Kivirist, coordinator of the MOSES In Her Boots Project and creator of these Women Caring for the Land resources. “While women increasingly are the key decision-makers on farms, the data, unfortunately, shows they are underrepresented in conservation program participation. These free materials provide new channels for women landowners to amplify their conservation practices.”
To bring attention to local and federal programs that support conservation practices, Kivirist hosts a webinar Thursday, June 18 at 1 p.m. with a panel of women who are conservation experts. They will offer advice on navigating various programs that can support land conservation practices. Panelists include Angela Biggs, Wisconsin State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Jennifer Filipiak, Executive Director, Driftless Area Land Conservancy; and, Julie Peterson and Gretchen Skudlarczyk, both Farm Bill Biologists with Pheasants Forever.
Additional free resources include a series of downloadable case studies with stories of Wisconsin women landowners at various stages of their conservation journey, from seeking land to transitioning back to her family farm, with expert advice from agency women on next steps. Also, the In Her Boots podcast currently features conversations with women landowners and educators on topics ranging from permaculture and pollinators to how to protect your land for the long-term through conservation easements.
“Conservation reaches beyond just taking care of what you have, but also doing more to improve the soil quality and create and more diversified habitat,” shared Thelma Heidel-Baker, owner of Bossie Cow Farm with her family in Random Lake, Wisconsin. Her story is one of the new Women Caring for the Land case studies. She’s also interviewed on the In Her Boots podcast. “For me, returning to my family farm is an honor to now steward the land for future generations for both raising healthy food and increasing wildlife,” Heidel-Baker added.
Registration is required for the June 18 webinar. See mosesorganic.org/women-caring-for-the-land or call 888-90-MOSES. If you have questions about the resources, contact Lisa Kivirist, project coordinator, at [email protected].org or 608-329-7056 (farm office).