MISHAWAKA — To reach the growing number of women farmers and landowners interested in conservation practices that benefit the health of their land, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Women4theLand are hosting a free conservation discussion and field tour on Sept. 19 in Mishawaka.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at The Mishawaka Res, 13950 Scout Lane. Lunch is provided, and the program will end by 3 p.m.

For more information and to register, interested women landowners and farmers can contact St. Joseph County SWCD at www.stjosephswcd.org or 574-936-2024, Ext. 4, by Sept. 13.

This Women’s Conservation Learning Circle will bring together women who have an interest in land stewardship in an informal learning format for a women-only morning discussion followed by lunch and a tour to view conservation practices. The key topics of discussion will be forestry management, invasive species and tree identification. Female conservation professionals will be on hand to answer questions and share resources. Participants are encouraged to speak about their own experiences and goals rather than simply listening to a presentation.

More than one million women operate American farms, and in the Midwest, women now own or co-own an estimated one-fourth to one-half of all the farmland. Many have inherited family land, some are just starting out, some are returning to the farm, and many are “non-operating” landowners who lease their land to neighboring farmers. This land also often includes areas, such as woodlands or fencerows, that are not cropland but are important to the overall function and goals of the farm.

The learning circle method of conservation outreach to women farmland owners and the activities used were developed by Women, Food and Agriculture Network for its Women Caring for the Land program.

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