- Animal Production: animal protection and health
- Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses, multiple cropping
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships, social networks
We held a series of learning circles of women farmers and landowners in eastern Nebraska, co-led by agricultural professionals at the Center for Rural Affairs and farmer-leaders, that provided sustainable farming and conservation education and outreach. Our series was spread out over two year with the second year primarily organized and lead by our farmer leaders.
The learning circles provided education on successful and sustainable production in a changing climate. Whether beginning or established farmers, experienced landowners or new to management, we have seen that women on farms largely share a commitment to environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Most raise a combination of specialty crops and small livestock, often with organic practices. In an increasingly unpredictable climate, it is critical that women farmers and landowners gain the production and conservation knowledge and resources to keep their farms thriving and protect the environment.
Learning circles are an important, innovative method for giving participants the knowledge, confidence, and support they need to enact change. In addition to learning from experts, our group engaged in peer-to-peer learning. Participating women are considered the “experts” on their own production, farmland, and conservation needs, and were encouraged to speak about their own experiences and goals rather than passively listen to a professional in a traditional lecture format. This format builds knowledge and confidence.
Objective 1: Build a self-sustaining community of women farmers and landowners of varying skill and experience levels with strong internal leadership
Objective 2: Enable peer learning, mentoring, and networking among learning circle participants
Objective 3: Provide expert education and resources to women farmers and landowners to address sustainable production and conservation in today’s changing climate
Objective 4: Connect participants to experts to encourage long-term partnerships that will provide ongoing resources for climate change adaptation and sustainable production.