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'Women Caring for the Land' planned in Princeton

PRINCETON — Women who own or manage farmland in Bureau, Lee and LaSalle counties are invited to participate in a free conservation discussion and field tour on June 12 in Princeton. The program is called "Women Caring for the Land."

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. 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.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to talk conservation with women farm owners and operators,” said Stacy James, a scientist at Prairie Rivers Network. “We have been working with Friends of Big Bureau Creek Watershed to promote land stewardship activities since 2011, and connecting with women is an important part of our project.”

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. There will also be an invited guest from Illinois Farm Bureau to discuss rental rates.

"We want to help farmers access opportunities to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality and agricultural sustainability, while sustaining profitability," said Jen Filipiak, conservation associate for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. "And we know that if we aren't explicitly including women in the conversation, then we are, in effect, excluding them. We need to make sure conservation opportunities are equally accessible to women owners and operators."

The meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. June 12 in Shoemake Hall at the Bureau County Metro Center, 837 Park Ave. West, Princeton. Continental breakfast and lunch are included. The meeting will wrap up at noon, and an optional field tour will wrap up at 3 p.m.

Space is limited and reservations are required. 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, please acknowledge that request in your RSVP.

This session of "Women Caring for the Land" is sponsored by the Women, Food and
Agriculture Network (WFAN) in partnership with American Farmland Trust, Prairie Rivers Network and Friends of the Big Bureau Creek Watershed. Staff from these organizations as well as USDA NRCS will be on hand to answer questions.

For more information, visit http://www.farmland.org/programs/environment/solutions/Bureau-County-Workshop.asp.

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