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Finding Hope in Community: Women for the Land Comes to Connecticut to Tackle Climate Change

As climate change takes the stage at the federal, state, and local levels, a small group of women farm managers gathered in Warren, Connecticut, on Sep. 19 for the inaugural Women for the Land Learning Circle in Connecticut to discuss how they could implement climate-smart farming on their working lands.

I was honored to lead this group of forward-thinking women in an afternoon discussion around how to grieve our changing planet and continue to fight so that our children can enjoy the vast lands we have worked hard to protect. Throughout the afternoon it became apparent that women worldwide are bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change. In many cultures, women are still the primary care providers and are responsible for preparing meals and fuel. According to a recent report released by the U.N., 80% of those displaced by climate change are women. As women, across the world, we are not only witnessing the physical effects of climate change as we start to experience erratic weather patterns but are also feeling sorrow for the lives that are drastically changing because of this impending shift.

Both women who are looking to transition their farms to the next generation and women who are seeking land were in attendance. These generations of women have traditionally been excluded from land management decisions. Our learning circle was filled with comradery and inspiration as to how we can support each other in implementing farming practices that will mitigate climate change. As women who tend the land, we must be at the table in the creation, development, and implementation of programs and policies that will determine the future of our lands.

American Farmland Trust’s New England climate and agriculture program manager, Emily Cole led the group in a discussion on how we as women could engage in climate-smart agricultural practices including increasing the amount of organic matter in our soil. We learned that if we increased the amount of organic matter in our soil by 1% per acre, we would draw down more than 20 tons of carbon from the atmosphere. This was also demonstrated to us by NRCS’s state soil scientist, Debbie Surabian who brought a rainwater simulation that demonstrated how different soil types retain and drain stormwater.

American Farmland Trust is working across the country with women,  like the ones who gathered in Warren, Connecticut , through our Women for the Land Initiative. This initiative works by creating dedicated networking and learning sessions aimed at supporting women landowners across the U.S. to improve their access to resources, which will better enable them to steward their farmland, improve their knowledge of how to preserve and maintain land in agricultural production, and support their equal access to resources at the local, state, and federal level.

As a program director for the Women for the Land initiative in Connecticut and granddaughter of a dairy farmer, I am excited to continue working with women landowners to enable them to become better stewards of their farmland and improve their knowledge of how to preserve and maintain land in agricultural production. I am also committed to ensuring women farm managers are included in having equal access to local, state, and federal resources. Finally, as Connecticut policy makers start to look at climate change legislation next session, the women who manage our state’s working lands must be included in the policy making process.  Because we as women are attuned to implementing innovative solutions that will keep our working lands in production for future generations in the nutmeg state.

To learn more about AFT’s Women for the Land Initiative, visit www.farmland.org/women.

About the Author
Chelsea Gazillo

New England Policy Manager

cgazillo@farmland.org

860-969-4386

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