Woodstock, Ill. — Women who own farmland are invited to a free workshop being co-hosted by The Land Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC) and American Farmland Trust. The workshop, Women Caring for the Land Learning Circle, will be held on Wednesday, May 29 at Prairie View Education Center, 2112 Behan Rd. in Crystal Lake, at 12 p.m. The two-hour workshop is free and includes lunch. Register online at farmland.org or call 815-337-9502 by May 24.
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,” she said. 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. Women are free to express their feelings, ask any questions and share their experiences in a fun and supportive environment.”
Balek added “Several years ago, I received a phone call from a woman who had just inherited two farms from her Dad. She wanted to keep the land in agriculture, but said she had no idea what she was doing, knew little about farming and felt overwhelmed by it all. I knew then that we needed to start our own Learning Circles for women here in McHenry County.”
RSVP for this event by May 24 by calling TLC at 815-337-9502. Friends and family members are welcome if included in your RSVP.
The Land Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and preservation of natural and agricultural land in McHenry County.
— Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service
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