American Farmland Trust, Women, Food and Agriculture Network, The Nature Conservation and the Coles and Douglas County Soil and Water Conservation Districts will hold a Women Caring for the Land Conservation Discussion in Arcola, Douglas County, Illinois on April 22.

"Nearly half the farmland in Illinois is currently owned or co-owned by women. More women now manage farmland on their own, often inheriting it from their spouses or parents," said Jennifer Filipiak, AFT's Natural Resource Conservationist. "We know if we aren't explicitly including women in the conversation on soil health and conservation, then we are, in effect, excluding them.

"Our goal is to make sure conservation opportunities are equally accessible to women owners and operators," added Filipiak. "Many women often have questions about 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. We can help answer those questions."

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.

In this meeting, the focus will be on soil health practices and learn about a unique landowner-tenant-researcher partnership on cover crops. Women conservationists will help facilitate the discussion and share resources that can help, such as USDA cost-share programs and other tools.  

Funding for this series of conservation discussions for women has been provided by a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Lumpkin Family Foundation.

The meeting starts at 9:00 a.m. at the Kaskaskia Country Club, 450 E CR 300 N, Arcola, Illinois. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast. Lunch and refreshments are also included. The meeting will wrap up at noon, and an optional field tour will wrap up at 3:00 p.m.

Space is limited.  For questions, or to RSVP, contact Teresa Bullock, American Farmland Trust, by calling 815-753-6365 or send email to: tbullock@niu.edu by April 15. If you have any conservation topics in particular you would like to discuss, please include them when you RSVP.

For more information and background materials, visit: http://www.farmland.org/programs/environment/solutions/Coles-Douglas_MMtmp12364cbe/Coles-Douglas-Workshop.asp.

The American Farmland Trust and the Women Food and Agriculture Network have been working together since 2012 to engage women landowners in a discussion about conservation.  For more information, visit: www.womencaringfortheland.org.

American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. For information on activities in Illinois, visit: www.farmland.org/Illinois.

American Farmland Trust will host the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities national conference in Lexington, Ky., on October 20-22.  Visit www.farmland.org for more information.