“We connect women to other veterans, other farmers and then resource providers so that they can access resources for their farm, whether that’s technical assistance, grants or other funding that will help them kind of either launch or continue to support their operations,” said Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, the program director.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 43% of American farmland is now farmed or co-farmed by women, but they still face challenges and barriers to entry.
Roesch-McNally said women oftentimes don have access to the same networks and community as their male counterparts, and they’re working to dismantle barriers.
“They’re not going into the same technical service provider offices, or they’re not accessing USDA loans or grants at the same rate of their male counterparts,” she explained. “Women veterans in particular face unique challenges. Some of them have experienced trauma associated with their military service, and they may be less apt to go out and seek veteran resources specifically. So we know women, farmers and landowners are underserved. But we also know that women veterans and veteran women who want to be involved in agriculture are even more underserved.”
Despite the challenges they’ve overcome, Roesch-McNally said many women find farming as healing.
“Agriculture is a motivation for many women veterans to both find a career, reconnect to the land, but an overarching theme that we found through research that we did was that women veterans, in particular, want to heal not just themselves from trauma they may have experienced or injured throughout their life experiences, but they want to connect with other veterans.”