The American Farmland Trust announced a new model geared toward increasing the use of conservation practices in the Great Lakes Basin by engaging women landowners, the operators who lease their land, and agricultural retailers through workshops, toolkits and “learning circles.”

According to an AFT release, up to 49% of the farmland in the Great Lakes region is leased, something the organization says can decrease incentives to use conservation practices. AFT noted that the project has a particular focus on connecting with female landowners, who possess much of the land in the region.

“Non-operating landowners, particularly women, are an important part of the solution to the nutrient problems in the Great Lakes,” said Brian Brandt, agriculture conservation innovations director at AFT. “This team has developed new strategies and tools that bring together the landowners and tenant farmers to put more conservation practices on the land while sharing the rewards and the risks. It’s a win-win-win for the landowner, the farmer and the Great Lakes.”

AFT tested the model in the Portage and Toussaint River basins in Ohio and in the Genesee River basin in New York. In 2018, the organization hired Rebecca Drobis, a photographer based out of Washington D.C., to capture photographs of the project and has since released toolkits for non-operating landowners, farmers who rent land and farm retailers on its website. 

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