Women farmland owners as sustainability ambassadors: educating farmers and other landowners to make changes

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2019: $39,832.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Women, Food & Agriculture Network
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Ahna Kruzic
Women, Food and Agriculture Network


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: decision support system, networking, study circle, technical assistance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, social capital, social networks, sustainability measures


    Farmland owners who rent their land have tremendous sway in making agriculture more sustainable, but their power is going largely unused. One reason for this is that many of these non-operator landowners are women, who often feel at a disadvantage to their tenants or their families. Our work with women landowners shows they prioritize conservation, transitioning the land to the next generation or to beginning farmers, and thinking outside the box for the land to be economically sustainable. By empowering these women to make the changes they want, sustainable agriculture will take a substantial step forward.

    We want to address this issue directly. We want to change the narrative of women landowners being invisible to active change agents who understand the sustainable agricultural practices needed on their land, and we want this new narrative to be led by women.

    This project, led by a group of women farmland owners, put women front and center in discussing land management. This project included media, speaking at various agricultural events, and women-focused events on land management. As a result, more women across the region engaged with their land stewardship, ensuring more land stays in agriculture, there is more conservation, and agriculture diversifies.

    Project objectives:

    A team of Sustainability Ambassadors determined their training needs for speaking to agricultural audiences and speaking to the media, and created a curriculum for women to tell their stories of implementing sustainable practices for the land they manage. Six Ambassadors tested this curriculum.

    Ambassadors spoke at agricultural events.

    Ambassadors were featured in media.

    Ambassadors hosted women-focused meetings on land management. Attendees  and Ambassadors increased their knowledge about sustainable practices.

    WFAN will promote this pilot model to other states in the NC SARE Region, making the pilot curricula available as open-source material, while continuing to expand and enhance the project after pilot completion.

    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.