Wisconsin Women in Conservation, a new state-wide coalition of landowners and agencies, has announced a series of on-line “Spring Into Conservation!” workshops on March 2 and April 6. The live Zoom events are specifically geared toward female farmers and landowners in Polk, Barron, Dunn and surrounding counties who are interested in learning more about land stewardship or in sharing their own expertise. Free registration is now open at wiwic.org.
“I want to spread the word to women landowners that they have conservation and organic production options!” said WiWiC NW Regional Coordinator Jennifer Nelson, a Plum City farmer who will facilitate the virtual workshops. “We need to strengthen our network of county, state and non-profit conservation experts so that we can all better promote land conservation practices. Our water supply, local food system, and community health depend on it.”
Nelson co-owns Humble Pie Farm in Plum City, WI, growing Certified Organic bedding plants, produce and flowers. She has worked with Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) since 2015, facilitating farmer education and farmland access. Nelson has also taught second grade, and managed and been on the board of multiple farmers’ markets.
Though Nelson is facilitating, the Zoom events will also feature regional soil experts, wildlife biologists, and others who can provide technical assistance and possibly funding to help participants put more conservation practices in place on their land. The group also plans to do in-person field days and farm demonstrations later in the year. One of the goals of the group is to promote networks of women landowners who can help each other transform their properties, and they will provide Conservation Coaches to those who want them.
“Women are nurturers ...of their families, of their land, of the earth. Women are also change makers and transformers for which not much credit is given to them. I am excited about this project because this focuses on women….and what they can do!” said WiWiC Lead Coordinator Dr. Esther Shekinah, a research agronomist at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. “By bringing conservation to the doorsteps of women of today, imagine the changes we can bring about in conserving the natural resources for our future generations….that’s exhilarating!!”
Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC) is a broad state-wide coalition of organizations dedicated to sustainable agriculture and conservation education, with support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Michael Fields Agricultural Institute as the lead is partnering with the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Renewing the Countryside, E Resources Group, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES).
Women landowners are a growing demographic. The 2017 Census recorded 38,509 female producers in Wisconsin, showing that women make up 35 percent of all producers in the state. “That’s a 16 percent increase in the number of female producers from the 2012 census,” shares Shekinah.
“Though many of these women would like to support sustainable agricultural practices that would help them leave their land for future generations in a state of oneness with nature and better soil health, their lack of exposure to or knowledge about such agricultural practices impedes their acting on these impulses. This new Wisconsin Women in Conservation initiative aims to address that.”
This unique three-year initiative will collaboratively engage women landowners through workshops, field days, farm tours, mentorships, a newsletter and other learning opportunities. Sign up for workshops or the newsletter at wiwic.org, and follow the group on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
For more information on the March and April workshops, call Jennifer Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952-451-5393.