Women4theLand uses the Learning Circle model. Learning circles provide information in a comfortable informal setting where the group learns from professional conservationists as well as from each other.
The meetings are facilitated in a way that builds knowledge and confidence. Participating women are considered the “experts” on their own production, farmland, and conservation needs, and are encouraged to speak about their own experiences and goals rather than simple listen to a presentation.
Our participants include beginning or established farmers, experienced landowners with several tenant farmers or new to management. They represent all types of farming from traditional crops to organic to livestock to truck crops to forestland. Everyone is welcome.
Regardless of their background, these women all share a commitment to environmental, economic, and social sustainability and learning circles help them translate their values into action.
Two pilot Women’s Learning Circles held in Indiana in Kokomo and Danville.
Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust funds a grant to the American Farmland Trust to implement Women’s Learning Circles in Indiana. The first Indiana conservation partner and training session is held in Indianapolis by American Farmland Trust and the Women, Food and Agriculture Network.
The Indiana Conservation Partnership agrees to create a formal learning circles program. Called Women4theLand, the initiative is governed by a state steering committee and engages a coordinator.
American Farmland Trust supports the coordinator and a three year business plan to get the initiative started.
The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service enters into a five-year partnership agreement with the Hoosier Heartland Resource Conservation and Development Council to support the Women4theLand Initiative. The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy, and Marion County Farm Bureau become funding partners.
Women4theLand is presented at several national conferences as a model of cooperation to reach women landowners and operators. By the end of 2019, over 1,500 women have participated in 87 learning circles throughout Indiana.
A new three year business plan is created and approved.
In the face of the worldwide pandemic, Women4theLand adds virtual programs to reach both women and men to share conservation information. Many of these programs are available on the Women4theLand YouTube channel.
By the fall of 2022, Women4theLand has supported over 150 programs in 56 Indiana counties reaching nearly 2,800 women.
“Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to share.”