Farm and Food News

Learning circles lend knowledge to the next generation of landowners

Marilee Polacek and her daughter, Katie, didn’t plan on getting into agriculture, but now that they are, they want to treat their land right.

Their farm, located outside Bruno, Nebraska, on Skull Creek, has been in the Polacek family for 120 years. Since Marilee’s husband, Louie, passed away 14 years ago, Marilee and her three children have mostly rented out the land for farming.

Soil health is gaining momentum

Across the nation, farmers, ranchers, and rural communities are finding that a key component to building a brighter future for rural America lies beneath our feet. Investments in soil health are creating more resilient food systems in the face of frequent extreme weather while reducing pollution in rivers and streams, and providing a long-term anchor for many rural economies.

To put it simply, states that make investments in building soil health are helping to create a more vibrant future for rural America.

Stephanie strives to make her land more sustainable

Stephanie O'Keefe always wanted to own land, but felt she didn’t have what it took to make that happen.

“I did not have enough knowledge or muscle for the task,” she said. “However, it became apparent about four years ago that my son-in-law and I could become partners, and between the two of us, accomplish the goal of land management.”

With that in mind, Stephanie aimed to learn as much as she could about managing farmland. One source of continuing education she discovered was through the Center for Rural Affairs’ Women’s Learning Circles.

Who is going to get the farm?

Today, a vast amount of land in the U.S. is owned by those over 65 years old. Some have made their wishes clear for the future of their property. Others are courting family upheaval by not planning in concrete ways.

An age old problem, evident in literature from the Bible to King Lear to Willa Cather, in land transition is the hard questions: Who really owns the land? And, what is the role of the steward of a property? Can "fair" become "unfair" to one's children?

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