Tricounty News

Women caring for the land event July 19

Women caring for the land event July 19

Glenwood 'Women Caring for the Land' event July 19 kicks off series of meetings in region

"I realized many people had the same questions and concerns that I had," was a common response from the 11 women landowners who attended the first Women Caring for the Land meeting held May 17, at Sacred Heart Parish in Glenwood.

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Land Stewardship Project (LSP), Pope County Soil and Water Conservation District, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Morris Wetland Management District and the Chippewa River Watershed Project.

Women Caring for the Land meetings originated with the work of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network based in Iowa. These "for women only" meetings grew out of research that showed a desire for a high level of conservation and stewardship by women who own farmland, a particularly important issue what with today's skyrocketing land prices. Because many of these women are not actively involved in a farming operation and rent their farmland to others, their biggest question is, "How do I get that to happen?"

The May 17 meeting was the first in a series of meetings for women landowners to be held through the Fall of 2012 in the Glenwood area. This initial meeting was designed to encourage the women landowners to reflect on what they value about their connection to farmland and to voice their conservation goals, questions and concerns.

"Creating a safe environment for sharing, an environment where there are no dumb questions, is a key feature of this meeting format. Judging by the lively and engaged discussions that happened throughout the day, we were able to achieve that level of safety and openness," said LSP's Julia Ahlers Ness, lead organizer of the meeting.

Luan Johnsrud, District Manager of the Pope County SWCD said, "There are many opportunities and programs to implement conservation practices; you just have to know where to look, and the questions to ask to make your plan a reality. These meetings are designed to help women landowners discover that information and learn the right questions to ask."

Another common theme that surfaced at the May 17 meeting was, "What should I be concerned about with regard to conservation and stewardship on my land? What practices support my values?"

This topic will be the major theme at the next Women Caring for the Land on Thursday, July 19, at Sacred Heart Parish in Glenwood.

Long-time conservation farmer and stewardship leader Audrey Arner of Moonstone Farm near Montevideo will be the guest speaker for the morning portion of the meeting. In addition, the meeting will feature a discussion on the connections between farm economics and stewardship. After a lunch featuring local foods, Pope County Soil and Water staff will lead a field tour of a local Pope County farm whose owners have incorporated a significant number of conservation practices into their operation.

The July 19 meeting runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This meeting is free and is open to all women who own farmland near Glenwood and surrounding areas. To register by July 16, or for more information, contact Julia Ahlers Ness at (320) 269-2105, ext. 16, or at janess

@landstewardshipproject.org.