The Women for the Land initiative from American Farmland Trust (AFT) will be continuing to develop the program in California through feedback provided by women landowners and farmers. Initially launched in California back in November 2018, AFT California is looking to expand the program to better suit the needs of women in agriculture throughout the state.
“It’s a national initiative that addresses the obstacles that women landowners face in accessing conservation programs and resources,” said AFT California Director Kara Heckert. “In part, the initiative hosts learning circles that empower women landowners to adopt environmentally sound farming practices, protect farmland, and improve the viability of their farms.”
On Wednesday, September 25 AFT is hosting a focus group at the San Diego County Farm Bureau to garner feedback from women landowners and farmers on how the program can be improved for California. Heckert noted that the group is “looking forward to hearing what women landowners need in California to help them implement conservation practices and keep their farm operations viable.”
AFT California has plans to host three conservation learning circles in 2020, with more details to be provided as they become available. The learning circles focus on information related to conservation practices, landowner-farmer relations, and succession planning. The conservation learning circles also serve as a forum for landowners to connect with each other as well as local resource providers. Heckert explained that feedback received from the focus groups helps to shape the subject matter for the learning circle events.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has been an important supporter of the Women for the Land initiative. AFT California was awarded a Conservation Technical Assistance Program Grant to help expand the program through 2021. The overall goal of the program is the widespread adoption of environmentally sound farming practices, through supporting underserved groups with the resources they require. “The initiative combines research, on the ground projects, and policy efforts to transform the agricultural landscape and develop a new voice for conservation,” said Heckert.
Listen to Heckert’s interview below.