Women Farmer and Landowner Learning Circles: Addressing Sustainability in a Changing Climate

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2016: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Grant Recipient: Center for Rural Affairs
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Sandra Renner
Center for Rural Affairs

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • 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

    Proposal abstract:

    We will convene 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, to provide sustainable farming and conservation education and outreach.

    The learning circles will provide 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 will engage in peer-to-peer learning. 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 passively listen to a professional in a traditional lecture format. This format builds knowledge, confidence, and community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We will hold 4 learning circle meetings per year over two years. Each meeting will be hosted at a woman-owned or operated farm in eastern Nebraska, and will include expert instruction, peer learning, and networking as part of a facilitated discussion, along with a farm tour demonstrating techniques and a potluck.


      • Sustainable production methods in a changing climate (water use, season extension, cover crops, etc.)
      • Tools/equipment for successful production
      • Business startup and planning, financial management 
      • Product distribution strategies
      • Marketing high value and specialty crops
      • Understanding and interacting with conservation programs
      • +2 for policy sessions


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.