Empowering Underserved Communities

Betty Wells partners with the [Women, Food and Agriculture Network] (http://www.wfan.org/) to build healthy, just, sustainable, and environmentally sound food systems and communities. She supports the WFAN signature programs, Harvesting our Potential (HOP) and Women Caring for the Land (WCL). The 2015 book chapter Building Power through Community highlights the role of Wells in the development of programs for women farmland owners, such as WCL, and the HOP program for new, aspiring, and experienced women farmers.

  • Reaching women farmland owners with participatory research and program innovation

Women own substantial portions of Iowa farmland but educational programs and conservation programs have not been designed with their needs in mind. Wells [began participatory research with women farmland owners in Cass County Iowa] to remedy this neglect, in partnership with WFAN. Research continued in 2010 in Humboldt County, resulting in recommendations for customizing conservation to this changing demographic.

  • Supporting new and aspiring women farmers with mentorships and business training.

Harvesting our Potential supports the entry of women into farming through mentoring by experienced women operators of small- and medium-market farms in Iowa and Nebraska, business planning, and structured networking. HOP has been supported most recently by a 3-year USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant.