Women, Land & Legacy Celebrates 15 Years

By Wren Almitra

Fifteen years ago a group of women were brought together by Iowa’s USDA State Outreach Council and tasked with finding an effective outreach program for Iowa’s women landowners and farmers. These women represented an array of non-profits, government agencies, faith-based organizations, producers and landowners. I recently interviewed Carol Smith and Tanya Meyer-Dideriksen, two of the founding members of the group and who continue to serve on the Women, Land & Legacy State Team today.

Q: Can you talk about some of the beginning stages of getting WLL going? How and why you personally got involved?

TM: WLL became the USDA State Outreach Council’s (SOC) outreach project for women.sandra and tanya (2)  The directors of agencies involved in the SOC fully supported forming a committee and developing a project.  When WLL first started, I was the State Outreach Coordinator for USDA-NRCS.  It was a perfect fit to be part of the team that developed this tremendous outreach effort for Iowa’s agricultural women.

CS: At the time I was a member of the SOC and became involved in WLL, I was a Simith_Carol_4x5Ind-240x300program manager for National Catholic Rural Life (now Catholic Rural Life or CRL), a national non profit.  My program was focused on rural community action and support—and it was very evident that women were a key to that issue.  I have a background in extension and in classroom teaching.  My great interest (and eventual expertise) in process and program design framed my work in all areas.   Continue reading

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Jan Wobeter of Tama Co., Conservation Woman of the Year

By Wren Almitra

Jan Wobeter always had dirt under her fingernails growing up. The 67 year-old native of  Traer, IA is busy. I had to schedule a time when she would be in the house to do a phone interview. “I’m not attached to the phone, I’m always outside, always doing something”, she told me. Jan has worn many hats in her life—mother, wife, nursery employee, Casey’s manager, wallpaper installer, furniture reupholsterer, refurbirsher of an early 1900’s schoolhouse, co-owner of an appraisal business. Her hats as landowner and Soil Commissioner in Tama Co. recently gave her the honor of receiving the Conservation Woman of the Year award, presented by Conservation Districts of Iowa at their annual conference.

Schoolhouse

Jan and her husband Rob in front of their 1928 schoolhouse, which they converted into their home (photo credit NRCS)

The purpose of the award is to recognize an Iowa woman for her contributions to conservation. According to Laura Crowell of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, numerous nominations were received, with Jan’s rising to the top. “Jan is an encouraging and enthusiastic advocate for Iowa conservation”, stated Laura. “As a…commissioner she has been the driving force behind many of the district’s outreach projects for county youth, as well as serving as the board’s treasurer. She and her husband Rob are excellent conservation stewards on their own land—including CRP, tree plantings, pond and extensive pollinator habitat.” Continue reading

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Women, Land & Legacy News

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Enjoy the latest news from Women, Land & Legacy

In this edition:

  • Civil Eats article highlights women landowners and supporting programs
  • Upcoming Women, Land & Legacy events across Iowa
  • Upcoming November WFAN conference in Des Moines and pre-conference land transition workshop
  • Talking with tenants about soil health–tips from USDA
  • Re-cap of summer WLL events

Archived newsletters can be found here.

Thanks for reading!

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November Land Transition Workshop and WFAN Conference–Des Moines

Two great opportunities to network with other women landowners, farmers and advocates at an upcoming Land Transition Workshop and the annual Women, Food & Agriculture Network conference this November in Des Moines.

Pre-conference workshop: Transitioning Your Land  

Choosing the best way to transition your farmland can be stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several women landowners who share your concerns, as we’ve heard during Women Caring for the Land meetings. Women, Food and Agriculture Network is offering a pre-conference workshop for women landowners to address your concerns. Read more and find registration information here.

Annual conference: Stepping into Action: Changing Foodscapes through Individual and Community Power.

Photo courtesy Aleya Fraser.

This two-day annual conference is our opportunity to learn from our diverse peers, build a stronger network, and foster connections for long-lasting change. The conference will feature women in our network through regional field tours; day-long intensives; a farm-to-table dinner;  art + story gallery featuring work by women farmers; creative community building; and workshops. Read more and register here.

 

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Upcoming Women, Land & Legacy Events

Looking for some great events to attend this fall? Women, Land & Legacy has many awesome opportunities for women in agriculture all across the state! Don’t see your county listed? Check out our map and list of participating counties here. Want to see Women, Land & Legacy in your county? Contact us to learn more! 

SW WLL – Agri-tourism pottawatamie county
October 4th, Council Bluffs
SW WLL (Fremont, Mills, Montgomery and Page counties) will host an ag-tourism event at Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard in Council Bluffs. 5:30 p.m., doors open, program from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. RSVP by Sept. 28th, call 712-374-2351 or 712-624-8616. More at facebook.com/womenlandandlegacywgg/.

Buchanan WLL – Networking and Pumpkin Crafting buchanan county
October 8th, Independence
Buchanan WLL will host a night of networking and pumpkin crafting. Polka Pear will be leading the craft. Refreshments and light snacks will be provided. Cost is $30. Email wll.buchanan.women@gmail.com or call Ashley Sherrets at (319) 334-7161 to reserve a spot. Upon registration please indicated which letter you would like to have on your pumpkin. The class is limited to 25 spots so register early!

Cedar/Muscatine/Scott – Networking Session louisa
October 16th, Letts
Cedar/Muscatine/Scott will host their first post-Listening Session event Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery in Letts. More details to come to the WLL calendar or stay tuned to the team’s Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/cmswll/.

Buena Vista/Pocahontas WLL – “Set the Table, Mable” pocahontas county
October 22nd, Laurens
BV/Pocahontas will hold a learning session entitled “Set the Table, Mable”. Guest speaker will be Margo Sievers, with performers Chef Margo and the Chefferettes discussing where food comes from and how it gets to our tables. 10:30 a.m., West Iowa Bank in Laurens. Pre-register by contacting Holly Frerk, 712-335-3103 or hfrerk@iastate.edu.

Winnebego/Worth – Farm Cash Rental winnebego county
November 1st, Lake Mills
Winnebego/Worth will host a Farm Cash Rental learning session with speaker Kevin Leibold from ISU Extension Farm Management Specialist. More details to come to our WLL calendar or call (641) 584-2261 for more information.

Johnson – Estate Planning, Intro. to Transfers of Land johnson county
November 8th, Iowa City
The Johnson Co. WLL team will hold an estate planning event in Iowa City entitled “Estate Planning – Introduction to Transfers of Land”. Trust Oficer Dennis Mitchell with MidWestOne Bank will present. 3-5 p.m., doors open at 2:30. MidWestOne Bank, 500 S. Clinton St. in Iowa City, 6th floor.

Tama – Telling Your Farm Story tama county
November 8th, location TBD
Tama Co. will hold an event on telling your own ag. story with presenter Laurie Johns from the Iowa Farm Bureau. More details to come to the WLL calendar or stay tuned to the Tama Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/womenlandandlegacytamacounty/.

Buchanan – Transition Planning buchanan county
November 13th, location TBD
Buchanan will hold a transition planning meeting with speaker Melissa O’Rourke of ISU Extension and Outreach. 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. More details to come to the WLL calendar or stay tuned to the Buchanan Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/buchananwomenlandandlegacy/.

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Summer WLL Events Bring Many Opportunities to Learn and Network

Check out highlights of some of the recent events our teams have put on for women in their counties this summer.

Mahaska/Marion WLL hosted a “Why I Farm” event in June with guest speaker Natalina Sents IMG_4387who traveled over 100,00 miles over a year to speak with farmers around the country about why they farm. In addition to Natalina, two Iowa Co. WLL team members spoke to the audience about why they love WLL and how their chapter is so successful. Other highlights included women from the audience sharing their farm stories, beautiful bouquets made by WLL team members, great food, and door prizes of wine and a farmer Barbie!

team photo 2018

Iowa WLL held their annual Iowa Women in Agriculture conference in June. Topics included tax law changes, estate planning, planning for the “what if” scenarios. The keynote was ISU president Wendy Wintersteen, and Market to Market co-host Mike Pearson emceed for the day.

 

In early A3ugust Winnebego/Worth WLL put on a multi-topic event at the Winnebego fairgrounds and had nearly 130 people in attendance! Topics covered included soil health and water quality, pollinator habitat, gardening 101 and more.

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Last in our summer events re-cap, the Clayton County Women, Land and Legacy team hosted women in their county at the Promiseland Winery in Guttenberg in late August. It was a fun and relaxing evening that included a tour of the production room, wine tasting and a short presentation from WLL State Coordinator Wren Almitra.

 

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Soil Health Tips from the USDA, Talking to Your Tenant and Cover Crops

soil in handsTalking with your tenant about soil health can be an intimidating or complicated thing, but starting with some basic questions can easily help get the conversation going. This article highlights 5 talking points you as a landowner should ask your tenant about how they are managing soil health on your farm, including if they are building organic matter, doing regular soil testing, are they doing cover crops and no-till and other important discussion topics. Read more here.

One of the most beneficial soil health practices you can do is cover cropping your ground when crops aren’t growing to keep the soil covered and living roots around most of the year. Here are some tips for managing cover crops, which you can share with your tenant.

If you have more questions about soil health practices, including cover crops, your local USDA office can offer free assistance and can also provide cost share.

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Article Highlights Importance of Women Landowners and Supporting Programs

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Women landowners are more often than not an under-acknowledged and undervalued part of our agriculture system. A recent article by Civil Eats entitled “Once on the Sidelines of Farming, Women Landowners Find Their Voice”, highlights the need for continued outreach and support for this demographic. This is especially needed as women tend to want to preserve their farms and leave them with healthy soil and clean water for future generations but don’t always know where to go to ask for help or face a myriad of barriers when they do. The Women, Food & Agriculture Network’s Women Caring for the Land program, as sister program of Women, Land & Legacy, is highlighted as one of the programs successfully reaching women landowners. Read the article here.

 

 

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USDA Highlights Soil Health Principals

Soil health is an ongoing process and there is almost always more that can be done to improve it sosoil in hands your crops grow healthy, your water stays clean and clear, and your soil stays put. It can be daunting to think about how to know what positive steps you are doing already and what improvements can be made. Luckily there are numerous resources on the best ways to improve your soil’s health.

The USDA recently shared their recommendations for best soil health practices, including minimizing disturbance, keeping soil covered as much as possible, and increasing biodiversity (living things in the soil) and plant roots. They also have an easy to use tool to help you locate your NRCS office for free local assistance on your farm. Learn more here.

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Women, Land & Legacy News

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Enjoy the latest news from Women, Land & Legacy.

In this edition:

  • NRCS Diversity Day
  • Upcoming Women, Land & Legacy events across Iowa
  • Re-cap of two exciting spring WLL events
  • Conservation funds available for nutrient reduction practices
  • Building community through storytelling, farming

Archived newsletters can be found here.

Thanks for reading!

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