For two days in Dubuque, Iowa, 60 people gathered to meet peers and share their work to improve soil health, streams, and places they care about. Fourteen farmer-driven watershed groups participated.
These committed, curious people shared their diverse experiences, listened for strategies and actions that create success, and posed questions about topics that matter to them. Participants asked each other for new perspectives. Away from daily work they reflected on local realities, challenges, resources, options, and fresh approaches. Then, with the help of a clear framework and feedback from peers, they identified next wise steps for their work at home.
At the end of the workshop each group shared next steps they’d identified. Some stepped up to offer expertise or ongoing support to others. All left knowing they are part of a bigger effort than they knew, and that they are not alone.
Why did they come? And why does this help?
We’ve learned things we were able to act on in a focused way, and we are making a difference in our area as a result.
These workshops have given us confidence to act outside our comfort zone.
Forming our farmer-led group after last year’s workshops raised us to a new level of possibilities for action.
We’re still building relationships, but we’re also on the brink of taking on projects that will directly improve soil health, water quality, and a sense of community. This year’s workshop gave us nuggets of gold to do just that.
The fact that farmers from our area and those of us focused on watershed work could spend extended time together learning about what others are doing, sharing our stories, and talking about what we think is important and possible in our area is, simply priceless.
We have tapped into the network by calling others between workshops for advice and information, and attending their field days.