Women who own farmland are invited to a free workshop being co-hosted by The Land Conservancy of McHenry County and American Farmland Trust.
The workshop, Women Caring for the Land Learning Circle, will be held at noon May 29 at Prairie View Education Center, 2112 Behan Road in Crystal Lake.
Learning circles provide women the opportunity to meet other landowners, share their farm successes and challenges, discuss their goals for their land and get advice and technical assistance.
Nearly 301 million acres of U.S. land – about a third of the nation’s land in farms – are now farmed or co-farmed by women and at least 87 million additional acres are in the hands of women landowners. Over the next 20 years, the number of women farming and or taking on a management role on farmland is likely to increase as 340 million acres of farmland are expected to change hands when farmers retire or leave their land to the next generation.
The Women, Food and Agriculture Network launched a pilot project in 2009 to reach an underrepresented and often silent group: women who own farmland. This program grew into Women Caring for the Land, which uses learning circles for women to talk about their hopes for their land and to learn about conservation.
At the May 29 learning circle, women landowners, together with local agriculture and conservation experts, will discuss conservation and farming practices that promote healthy and productive farms by nurturing life in the soil.
“In the Midwest, women now own or co-own between one-fourth and one-half of the farmland. Many of them are not farmers themselves, or no longer farm themselves, and rent their land out to local farmers,” said Jen Filipiak, Midwest director for American Farmland Trust. “But even if they don’t farm they still care about the health of the land and are very interested in learning how to improve the soil and use farmland conservation practices.”
In this workshop, attendees will learn what makes soil healthy and more productive and tips for building a good farmer-landowner relationship which benefits them and the land.
Linda Balek, farm program manager with The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, said, “So far we’ve held three Learning Circles in McHenry County and plan to continue because the women get so much out of it.”
The Land Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and preservation of natural and agricultural land in McHenry County.