- Education and Training: networking
- Sustainable Communities: social networks
Implementing conservation practices for agriculture requires landowners to make decisions actively, and with full and accurate information. Women who own farmland, however, are less likely to be involved in land management decisions than either male or female farm operators. This situation is untenable, creating legal, practical, and ethical vulnerabilities for agricultural service providers, women, and their co-owners and operators. The problem is particularly severe in the Midwest, where large numbers of women own farmland. The larger aim of the research is to improve service delivery by agricultural service providers in the area of soil and water conservation by identifying and mapping the institutional and social relations that mask and minimize women's roles in land management decisions. Women farmland owners are often ignored and excluded from decisions about conservation technologies. The gaps in service are largely undocumented. The dissertation research features a qualitative methodology termed "institutional ethnography" that enables the researcher to analyze behaviors and social relationships that characterize the reality of women farmland owner's experiences with service delivery. The grant will provide partial support for (a) eight interviews with women farmland owners and (b) a social mapping process involving approximately fifteen women and fifteen service providers (i.e., NRCS, FSA, Conservation Districts of Iowa, and Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, etc.). The products of the proposed work include the map, three case studies, and approximately five model action plans for selected agencies and nonprofits that specify ways to change how their institutions serve women. The broader impact of the work will be to dispel myths and social beliefs about women that limit their ability to protect soil and water.
Project objectives from proposal:
Short-term outcomes (Objectives) Objective #1: Identification of key issues related to women’s negative and positive experiences with agricultural conservation program service delivery through interviews of women farmland owners. Key issues will decide which agencies and participants to involve in the mapping process. Objective #2: New understandings of the interconnections and barriers for women farmland owners for 2-5 agricultural conservation agencies in Iowa through the mapping process. The mapping process will form the basis for case studies. Objective #3: Solutions will be proposed by participants in the form of action plans. Objective #4. Problems and solutions will be communicated in researched-based but reader-friendly case study format to disseminate lessons learned to agencies, policy makers, nonprofit associations, and others who work with women clients in nontraditional fields like agriculture both nationally and internationally.