AFT Launches Program Linking Women in the Military and Agriculture

Published online: Dec 07, 2021 Articles
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 American Farmland Trust’s Women for the Land Initiative launched a new program, Women Veterans for the Land, funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture AgVets program, in October to offer resources for women veterans in agriculture over the next three years throughout the Pacific Northwest.

This project aims to foster a community of practice among veteran women farmers in Washington and Oregon through a series of listening sessions, learning circles and regional convenings. The project will support non-formal education to provide veteran women the necessary skills, training and experience to be successful in agriculture. Women Veterans for the Land will further increase veteran women farmers’ and landowners’ connectivity to peers and technical service providers and improve their access to educational resources to better enable successful stewardship of their farms.

While both communities have a shared history, Women Veterans for the Land will help generate more research about the parallels in identity among women in the military and agriculture, according to Addie Candib, AFT Pacific Northwest Regional Director.

“When we began to explore the possibility of this initiative, we quickly learned that while plenty of research exists about women veterans’ programs and veterans in agriculture, there is remarkably little data about and specific resources for women veterans in agriculture,” said Candib.

AFT will offer a combination of in-person and virtual learning opportunities tailored to the needs and interests of veteran women beginning farmers, current farmers and farmland owners. AFT will disseminate project lessons to guide a broader understanding of this farming audience and create more pathways to success for veteran women in agriculture.

“I am deeply excited about the possibility to build more bridges with those working with women veterans to improve how we serve them as they engage in agriculture, as both farmers and farmland owners,” said Gabrielle McNally, AFT’s Women for the Land Director. “I am also excited to explore the ways we can harness agriculture as an opportunity to foster greater resilience among women veterans who are already involved in agriculture or who may want to be.”

During the first year of the project, women veterans and service providers will be interviewed about their background and farming goals. In the second and third years, the women will participate in learning circles through peer-to-peer connections to discuss issues including land access, regenerative agriculture and soil health practices. The project culminates in year three with a regional conference for participants and regional service providers to share their experiences and build a community of practice.

Women Veterans for the Land is a collaborative effort which also aims for veteran women farmers and farmland owners to more easily share lessons learned to help them better engage with each other. Program partners and advisors, including the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, the Farmer Veteran Coalition and its Washington chapter, Washington Farmland Trust, Rogue Farm Corps, Veterans Administration Portland Health Care System and Annie’s Project will disseminate lessons learned to state counterparts across the country. AFT will also publish a report on how to effectively reach veteran women farmers.

“This project represents a new space for AFT, and we look forward to sharing our learning with the Pacific Northwest agricultural services community and beyond,” said Candib. “We hope this effort will contribute to better knowledge about, and services for, women veterans who currently farm or manage farmland and who would like to in the future.”

If you are interested in learning more about Women Veterans for the Land, or about AFT’s Women for the Land initiative in general, please visit www.farmland.org/women.