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posted: 3/19/2014 2:37 PM

Seminar for women farm managers, landowners set for March 31

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Submitted by American Farmland Trust

Women who own or manage farmland in DeKalb and surrounding counties are invited to participate in a free conservation discussion and field tour Monday, March 31, in Sycamore. The program is called Women Caring for the Land and is sponsored by a sustainability grant from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Nearly half the farmland in Illinois is currently owned or co-owned by women. More women now manage farmland on their own, as they inherit it from their spouses or parents.

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Many women wonder whether they are doing all they can to improve soil and water quality while maintaining high agricultural productivity. Many are unsure of exactly how to reach their conservation goals and what resources are available to help them. If they are leasing their farmland, they wonder how best to discuss their concerns and goals with their tenants.

"This workshop offers a unique opportunity for women landowners to come together to share and learn about land conservation options," said Dan Kenney, with the DeKalb County Farmland Foundation.

Women Caring for the Land offers a women-only peer-to-peer, informal discussion format to allow women landowners to talk about their individual land stewardship goals and share information with one another. Women conservationists will help facilitate the discussion and share resources that can help you such as USDA cost-share programs and other tools.

They will also discuss options for farmland preservation and the successful Kane County program. The American Farmland Trust and the Women Food and Agriculture Network have been working together since 2012 to engage women landowners in conservation discussion.

"We know that if we aren't explicitly including women in the conversation, then we are, in effect, excluding them," said Jennifer Filipiak, AFT's Natural Resource Conservationist. "Our goal is to make sure conservation opportunities are equally accessible to women owners and operators".

The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau building, 1350 W. Prairie Drive, Sycamore, continental breakfast and refreshments are included. The meeting will wrap up at noon, and an optional field tour will wrap up at 3 p.m.

Space is limited, For questions, or to RSVP, call or email Teresa Bullock, American Farmland Trust, at (815) 753-6365 or tbullock@niu.edu. If you have any conservation topics in particular you would like to discuss, let us know in your RSVP.

This session of Women Caring for the Land is sponsored by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network in partnership with the American Farmland Trust, DeKalb County Farmland Foundation, the DeKalb and Kane/DuPage County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. Staff from these organizations as well as USDA NRCS will be on hand to answer your questions. For more information, visit www.farmland.org/programs/environment/solutions/DeKalb-County-Workshop.

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