American Farmland Trust California Launches “Women for the Land” to Empower Women Landowners
SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, announced the launch of Women for the Land in California and its first women-only learning circle to be held in Solano County. WFL CA will support female landowners in accessing resources and building strong networks around succession planning, landowner-farmer relations, and whole-farm conservation. More specifically, the conservation learning circles serve as a forum for landowners to connect with each other and local resource providers.
AFT believes that supporting this underserved group is critical to more widespread adoption of environmentally sound farming practices.
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. Research shows that many women farmers and landowners have a strong conservation and stewardship ethic. They are deeply committed to healthy farmland, farm families and farm communities. However, women face gender barriers affecting their ability to manage their land for long-term sustainability. And while women increasingly are the primary decision-makers on farms and inclined towards conservation, they are underrepresented in use of USDA conservation programs.
The WFL program has been highly successful in AFT’s Midwest region, where a recent research report compiling interviews from women that have attended the WFL learning circles demonstrated women-only learning circles work as a means for expanding conservation actions and confirmed women landowners are important in the broader implementation of conservation practices on farms.
“We are thrilled to be launching this powerful model here in California. Women landowners are an important part of our very diverse farming landscape, where they are among a group of underserved farmers and landowners we are working to support,” said California director, Kara Heckert.
She continued, “Women for the Land will be part of our broader effort to implement environmentally sound farming practices and scale up climate-smart agriculture in California. And we know it works. AFT Midwest research showed 72 percent of the women who attended learning circles were inspired to take action, 23 percent of these women implemented an immediate change on the land – after attending just one learning circle.”
Last August, AFT California convened a Women for the Land focus group of women leaders in agriculture — ranging from the undersecretary of the CA Department of Food & Agriculture to the vice president, UC Agriculture, and Natural Resources. This gathering established a strong partner network, increased statewide awareness of the program and offered further insight into how AFT can serve women landowners. A similar focus group will be held when the program is expanded to Southern California.
“NRCS in California is looking forward to this inspiring new partnership with American Farmland Trust and others involved in the women’s learning circles,” said Anita K. Brown, director of public affairs and outreach, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service California.
She continued, “Women have always been a foundational force of leadership, strength, and insight on American farms. Involving them in creative conservation strategies for protecting the land’s sustainability is a natural and laudable next step.”
The first California learning circle will be held in partnership with USDA NRCS and Solano Land Trust and will take place on Thursday, Dec. 6. The focus of this circle is on whole farm conservation planning. AFT invites both operating and non-operating female landowners from Solano, Yolo, and Napa counties to join us.
Date & Time: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Solano Land Trust’s Rush Ranch in Suisun City
During the learning circle, participants will meet and network with other women landowners, connect with local conservation agency staff, learn about creating a whole farm conservation plan (which entails receiving an overview of the planning process and beginning to formulate goals for their land) and tour a local farm to see conservation practices at work.
To register, visit: farmland.salsalabs.org/solanocountywfl or call 916-448-1064.
Future learning circles are planned for February and March 2019 in the Central Valley and on the Central Coast.
A recently awarded USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service California Conservation Technical Assistance Program Grant will assist AFT California in expanding the program across the state in the period from 2019-2021.
American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980, AFT’s innovative work has helped to permanently protect more than 6.5 million acres of farmland and ranchland and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. No Farms, No Food. Learn more at www.farmland.org.