At the end of July on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, American Farmland Trust (AFT) convened a small group of women farm owners to share experiences with each other, expand their knowledge of conservation, and learn about innovative practices being tested by the University of Maryland.
With record numbers of women taking over ownership of farms across the country, AFT hosts these women’s learning circles in the Mid-West and now in the Mid-Atlantic. “Women landowners are committed conservationists,” said Jim Baird, the Mid-Atlantic regional director for AFT. “We want to provide a comfortable place where women, many of whom are new landowners, can come together to ask questions about conservation, and how they can get assistance.”
Jen Filipiak, AFT’s natural resource conservationist in the Mid-West, led the discussion (as this is a women’s event, and men do not participate in the circle discussions). “In many cases, women become farm owners and want to put good environmental practices in place on their farms. But, they don’t believe they know enough about conservation or the programs that can help. They are more comfortable leaving those decisions to their farm managers – who may not share their commitment.”
The Maryland women enthusiastically shared their commitment to conservation and discussed practices they already had in place. They came wanting to learn more and to expand what they are already doing, such as nutrient management, cover crops and stream buffers
As one of the participants said, “I want to pass my farm on better than I found it.”
Following the discussion, the group toured the University of Maryland’s Wye Research and Education Center. Center Researches led discussions of a grassed waterway draining a horticultural field, a buffer treating runoff from a corn field and tree planting and rotational grazing on the Wye Angus Herd farm.
To learn about upcoming events in the Mid Atlantic, please contact Jim Baird, JBaird@Farmland.org
And, for events in the Mid-West, Jen Filipiak, JFilipiak@Farmland.org