This project empowers Latino farmers and ranchers to overcome social and informational isolation. Latino farmers are a
highly motivated, growing population in Nebraska. But they are largely unrecognized by agriculture agencies, lack access
to resources and support, and lack peer support and learning networks. Targeted outreach, bilingual and culturally
conscious training, and personal relationship building surmount these barriers to promote success.
The goal of this project is to support Latino farmers to start or expand environmentally and financially sound livestock
operations and to develop peer and professional networks for long-term support. We will convene a learning circle of
Latino farmers and ranchers in eastern Nebraska, co-led by agricultural professionals at the Center for Rural Affairs and
farmer/rancher-leaders. Participating Latino farmers are small scale, diversified farms either currently or prospectively
including animal production.
Collaborative, bilingual learning sessions will address successful and sustainable livestock farming and ranching and
related business topics. The learning circle format combines peer learning, expert training, resource introductions, and
Over the two year project, learning circles will transition from professional leadership to a self-sustaining peer group. This
approach enables long-term peer support, provides ongoing learning opportunities, and promotes business sustainability.
Increase Latino farmers and ranchers’ knowledge and skills in sustainable livestock production and marketing, Through 6 learning circle sessions including discussion and farm tours, as shown on post-session surveys.
Develop personal connections between Latino farmers/ranchers and professional service providers (NRCS, Natural Resource Districts, and others), by having them attend learning circle sessions.
Throughout the project, facilitate peer learning, mentoring, and networking through learning circle activities.
Build a self-sustaining community of Latino farmers and ranchers of varying skill and experience levels with strong internal leadership through learning circles.
The learning circle format was developed through projects by the Women Food & Agriculture Network: “Developing a
Conservation Education and Outreach Program Targeted at Women Farmland Owners” (2010-2012) and
“Women Caring for the Land: Improving Conservation Outreach to Non-operator Female Farmland Owners”
This project expands learning circle use to Latino audiences, who, like women, prefer to learn with and from their
peers. Relatively few SARE projects have directly trained Latino farmers; this project would build into ongoing
work such as “On-farm and Ranch Education of New and Beginning Latino Producers in Missouri” to develop a
better practical understanding of sustainable farming training for Latino audiences. Other SARE projects have
targeted agricultural professionals and educators (“Creating a Sense of Belonging for Hispanic Farmers in
Extension Programming,” “Building Capacity to Engage Latinos in Local Food Systems in the Heartland”); our
project takes training to farmers with peer and expert learning.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Utilizing our Latino Leaders for this project, all promotion was done by our leaders to people in their area. We have found that this is the best way to promote events. The farmer leaders also hosted the learning circles. We invited NRCS and FSA to each learning circle. Some were able to attend, but it varied because of the learning circle schedule.
This next year we will again have 3 learning circles hosted by the farmer leaders. We are planning on releasing some case studies of our farmer leaders. We are also surveying farmer leaders and participants to find out what the best network may be to continue the interactions we have been facilitating.
sustainable production techniques
Resources available for sustainable farming
During this first year of the project the Latino farming group in Nebraska has grown. We saw new participants coming to our learning circles, and a few of them came to two learning circles. We also saw the network start to grow and form. During this project we had a participant comment that he loved the circles because he felt isolated as a beginning Latino farmer. We explained why the network we want to create was important and how it could be used to connect and lessen the feeling of isolation. Many of the farmers reported that they would take techniques demonstrated by the farmer leader and by NRCS and use them on their farms. These demonstrations included vegetable production methods, diy soil testing and alfalfa production.