September 13, 2012
On August 28, twenty-two women gathered in Princeton, Illinois to talk about agricultural conservation. More than half of the women own farmland in north-central Illinois, and the rest were professional staff from various organizations wedded to conservation stewardship. The workshop, called Women Caring for the Land, was organized and facilitated by Prairie Rivers Network and American Farmland Trust.
The workshop was limited to women because much of Illinois’ farmland is owned or co-owned by women. Also, some women tend to not speak up when in mixed-gender public meetings. While the farming is largely done by men, women can play a strong and informed role when making decisions about how their land is farmed. And if Illinois is to make any progress towards reducing water pollution from agriculture, farming decisions must be based not only on economics, but also environmental and health risks. Therefore, it is critical for women to be conservation-savvy.
Women Caring for the Land provides a space for women to discuss their conservation concerns and questions in an open, supportive environment. Professional staff from conservation, agricultural, and government organizations attend the meetings to answer technical questions and share available resources. The workshop includes both a roundtable discussion and a farm tour of conservation practices.
Prairie Rivers Network received funding and support for these workshops from the Iowa-based Women, Food & Agriculture Network. We will hold two more workshops in 2013; one will be in Princeton, and another will be held somewhere in Douglas or Coles County. Please call our office at 217.344.2371 if you are interested in attending one of these workshops!