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Farmland Summit

November 14 & 15, 2023
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The 2023 Farmland Summit will bring together thought leaders, change agents, policymakers, and practitioners from around the Upper Midwest to dig into critical challenges and opportunities related to farmland access and transfer.


Schedule, speakers, and topics are subject to change. Please continue to check back for final details as the Summit approaches!

Tuesday, November 14















Registration & Breakfast
Welcome & Land Blessing from Summit Hosts & Partners

Tim Wilson, Farm Education Manager, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Janice Bad Moccasin, Enrolled Tribal Member of the Crow Creek Dakota Nation
Jan Joannides, Executive Director, Renewing the Countryside
Patrice Bailey, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Farmland Access & Tenure Overview
Farmland access and tenure are critical topics for those interested in getting a next generation of farmers on the land, but many people lack a solid understanding of the subject. Kathy Ruhf, Senior Advisor at Land for Good, will provide us with an overview including what we know from the data, key issues, and barriers and opportunities in this space.

Kathy Ruhf, Senior Advisor, Land for Good
Morning Break

Farmer Panel: Transferring the Farm to a Non-Family Member

Farm transitions, when there isn't a family member interested or able to take over the farm, present a unique challenge for those who want to see their farm business continue or for the land to remain in farming. Our three panelists will share their unique stories of how they are transitioning or have transitioned their farms.

Carmen Fernholz, A-Frame Organic Farms
Jerry Ford, Living Song Farm
Lynne Reeck, Singing
Hills Dairy
Moderated by Brett Olson, Renewing the Countryside

Keynote Address:
How Change Happens

with Zach Ducheneaux
National Administrator, Farm Service Agency

Introduction by Whitney Place, State Executive Director, Minnesota Farm Service Agency

Land Stories: Experiences & Challenges in Accessing Land
Emerging farmers representing diverse backgrounds will share their personal stories of trying to access land. They will share the challenges they have faced and speak to the broader historical and cultural contexts that have impacted their journeys.

Alex Bagwajinini Kmett, Red Lake Nation
Janssen Hang, Hmong American Farmers Association
Javier Garcia, Agua Gorda Farm, interpretation by Nadia Smith
Moses Momanyi, Kilimo Minnesota
Rachel Arneson, Arneson Farms
Moderated by Lillian Otieno, Director, Emerging Farmers Office, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Afternoon Break

State of the States: Farms Under Threat
Cris Coffin will share information on the Upper Midwest generated in a multi-year research project and report by American Farmland Trust, entitled Farms Under Threat: State of the States.

Cris Coffin, National Agricultural Land Network Director and Senior Policy Advisor, American Farmland Trust

State of the States: Reports from the Field
Representatives from organizations in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Great Lakes region will share overviews of their states' situations in terms of farmland access, transfer, and protection, and how they are working to advance these issues.

Nathan Aaberg, Illinois FarmLink Director, The Land Connection
Mike Zastoupil, Agricultural and Food Systems Planner, M
innesota Department of Agriculture
Martha McFarland, Senior Farmland Viability Coordinator, Practical Farmers of Iowa
Bonnie Warndahl, Farmland Access Navigator, Ma

Intro to the Farmland Access Hub & Navigators
A brief overview of Navigators and the Farmland Access Hub, a regional network for farmland access support across the Upper Midwest.
Jan Joannides, Executive Director, Renewing the Countryside
Bonnie Warndahl, Farmland Access Specialist, Renewing the Countryside
Angie Doucette,
Midwest Farmland Protection Manager, American Farmland Trust

Invitation to Reception & Closing
Jan Joannides, Executive Director, Renewing the Countryside

Happy Hour Reception
Join us for a casual and fun time to mingle and catch up with colleagues and friends! Appetizers, dessert, cash bar with beer, wine, & assorted beverages will be served.

Wednesday, November 15



Registration & Breakfast


Opening & Day 2 Orientation

Tim Wilson, Farm Education Manager, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Jan Joannides, Executive Director, Renewing the Countryside

Breakout tracks include:

  • Track A: Farm Succession & Transfer Planning

  • Track B: Policy Dimensions of Farmland Access & Transfer

  • Track C: Innovative Models of Farmland Access & Financing

  • Track D: Emerging Strategies for Affordable Land Access

  • Track E: Working with Land Seekers



Breakout Session 1
Track A: Farm Succession: Understanding Barriers and Opportunities
Farm succession is challenging for most farm families. How can farmers securely transition out of farming? What if there is no identified successor? This introductory session explores what goes into farm succession planning and who needs to be involved. We'll delve into barriers and opportunities inherent in farm succession with an emphasis on non-family farm transfer.

Kathy Ruhf, Land for Good
Jim Molenaar, St. Cloud Technical and Community College
Jim Ostlie, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Mia Ljung (moderator),
University of Wisconsin-Extension

Track B: The Historical Context of Land Access in the Western Great Lakes & Modern Impacts on Indigenous Peoples
Bagwaj will briefly describe the relationship between Indigenous nations and settler-colonial states that sets up the legal basis for continued occupation, treaties, and actions that have impacted Indigenous land access and intergenerational wealth. As an individual entwined in that history, he will describe his own story about how he has been impacted by the cascading effects of historical events.

Alex Bagwajinini Kmett, Red Lake Ojibwe, Marbleseed

Track C: Engaging Local Community in Land Access and Equity: Models from Around the US
Creative, community-engaged methods of funding farmland preservation can expand the effectiveness and impact of groups working to ensure long-term land access for farmers and ranchers. In particular, they offer a way for individuals with financial resources to support these efforts directly and to shift the economics of land transfer from incentivizing conversion to incentivizing preservation. Yet, for these efforts to be successful, they must respond to the context of a community, reflect the diverse needs of farmers and ranchers, and be adaptable over time.

Join Hannah and Stacy as they discuss two models of community-funded farmland access in Iowa and Colorado and the lessons learned as these programs have developed and adapted. The session will begin with an overview of Humble Hands Harvest and Poudre Valley Community Farms and incorporate discussion and reflection from audience members to share le
ssons learned and envision the future.

Hannah Breckbill, Humble Hands Harvest
Stacy Lischka, Poudre Valley Community Farms (Fort Collins, CO)

Track D: Agricultural Easements 101
Agricultural easements are a fairly new tool in the Upper Midwest. Easements can play an important role in land affordability and availability while also protecting farmland from development. This session will cover the basics of agricultural easements with a focus on land access and transfer. This will include how they work, who they work for, and what the process involves. There will be plenty of time set aside for questions and answers.

Andrea Eger, The Nature Conservancy
Alison Volk, American Farmland Trust

Track E: Farmland Access Navigator Panel
Farmland Access Navigators provide an array of support, tools, and coaching to emerging farmers seeking to access farmland. The Navigators are part of the Farmland Access Hub, and they have helped hundreds of beginning farmers over the past 5 years. Come join a conversation with Navigators to learn more about what they do and to discuss how we might train and support more people across the region to provide these services.

Jeanne Janson, Illinois FarmLink
Katie Kubovcik, Big River Farms & Renewing the Countryside
Monika Owczarski, Sweet Tooth Farm
Bonnie Warndahl, Renewing the Countryside

Morning Break


Breakout Session 2
Track A: Engaging Landowners: Cultivating Farmland Access for the Next Generation
Over the past year, the Farmland Access Hub has convened a working group to address outreach and engagement with farmland owners to raise their awareness about land access issues and connect them with farmland seekers. An outcome of the has been the design and execution of 6 farmland access “meet & greets” which drew more than 120 attendees. The events aimed to connect retiring landowners and land seekers with each other and make sure they have the financial and technical resources needed for successful farm transitions. In this session we will share the event design template, the successes and challenges of our efforts, and open the floor to discuss ideas on how to effectively reach landowners and expand partnerships to collectively move this work forward.

Sabri Fair, Region Nine Development Commission (MN)
Kate Mudge, West Central Initiative (MN)
Bonnie Warndahl, Renewing The Countryside

Track B: Policy Action for Land Access: What's Working and What's Next
What is the current farmland access policy landscape and opportunities on the horizon? Through interactive panel presentations and discussion, this session will provide an overview of existing policy tools in the Upper Midwest and nationally, their successes and shortcomings, policies needed for the future of farmland access, and strategies for advancing these policies.

Chuck Anderas, Michael Fields Institute
Jenny Heck, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Stu Lourey, Minnesota Farmers Union
Marie O'Neill, Indiana University

Track C: Linking Values-Aligned Investors to Support Farmland Access
Farmland costs and timing are two challenges emerging farmers face in accessing farmland. Often sellers aren't willing or able to wait to see if a farmer can be approved for a loan. So farmland often moves to those who already have the wealth and resources to act quickly. Iroquois Valley Farms and Farmland Conservation Partners are disrupting this pattern by tapping into values-aligned investors to help farmers access land.

Verna Kragnes, Farmland Conservation Partners
Claire Mesesan, Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT

Tera Johnson (moderator), Food Finance Institute

Track D: Flexibility and Cultural Competency in Agricultural Easements
A conversation centering Indigenous, Black, immigrant, and other farmers of color’s experiences, questions, concerns, asks and creative ideas around conservation and farmland easements. This is for those wanting to more critically examine the history and current use/impacts of conservation and farmland easements, for those who want to express their experiences and thoughts, and for those who want to examine new ways to think about easements as tools. It is helpful for participants to join the Easements 101 session directly preceding this session.

Sophia Benrud, Midwest Farmers of Color Coalition
Duaba Unenra, Wild Path Collective

Track E: Farm Transitions: A Conversation with Legal & Tax Experts
Farm transitions are complicated and attorneys and tax professionals can provide vital assistance. This session will provide an overview of key legal and tax issues transitioning farmers and landowners need to consider, followed by Q & A.

Kate Graham, ESQ, Attorney at Law
Greg Schieber, Nethercut Schieber PLLP
Lee Hanson, Hanson Law Office
Brett Olson (moderator), Renewing the Countryside


Lunch & Meetup Groups

Enjoy your lunch while making new connections and collaborations and digging deeper into the issues with colleagues in optional meetup groups.



Breakout Session 3

Track A: Sharing Resources: Landowners Stepping Up
Inequities in land ownership and asset accumulation are stark. How much is enough to pass on to the next generation, and how can we share our wealth with others? Come listen to Climate Land Leaders' journey of learning about the U.S. history of enslaved labor and stolen land and the ways White landowners continue to benefit from our national foundation and institutions. Then hear three cases of those who have shared their resources, and offer your examples of options for landowners to support beginning farmers.

Sarah Hunt, Climate Land Leaders

Track B: Land Access for Young Farmers: Storytelling for Structural Change
National Young Farmers Coalition Land Advocacy fellows share their land access stories, how the USDA and outside service providers have played a role, and why they are passionate about advocating for structural change to support equitable land access. This session will spotlight two Young Farmer fellows with time for Q&A from the audience.

Kelsey Zaavedra, Heirloomista
Tyrean "Heru" Lewis, Heru Urban Farming
Elston Tortuga (moderator),
National Young Farmers Coalition

Track C: Building Pathways to Farmland Access: Incubators, Mentorships, & Long-Term Leases
To set Beginning Farmers up for success, more is needed than access to land - access to infrastructure, equipment, mentorship and resources are all important. What are different models and methods for offering this access? What are the essential pieces of an incubator and what is needed to start one? When does leasing land turn into an incubator? Hear from a panel of those offering support to Beginning Farmers through different incubator models, long-term leases and mentorship. Engage in a conversation around how we can develop these farmer support models to get more farmers on land with the access to infrastructure, mentorship and resources they need to be successful.

Summer Badawi, Big River Farms, The Food Group
KaZoua Berry, Big River Farms, The Food Group
Janssen Hang, Hmong American Farmers Association
Verna Kragnes, PRAIRIE;
New Roots Farm Incubator Co-op
Moses Momanyi, Kilimo Minnesota
Seth Riley, Farley Center

Track D: Buy, Protect, Sell: A Farmland Access Success Story
What is "Buy, Protect, Sell" and how can it help make farmland more affordable? Come hear about the transition of Singing Hills Farm to a family who had been farming on leased land for over 20 years. We'll share the process, outcomes, and what we learned. Bring your questions and ideas of how to both improve and expand this model.

Alison Volk, American Farmland Trust
Jan Joannides,
Renewing The Countryside
Yimmuaj Yang, Groundswell Conservancy

Track E: Farmland Access: A Conversation with Legal Professionals
Accessing farmland is complicated - especially for those with limited resources. Whether a farmer is leasing, buying outright, or doing something like a contract for deed or lease-to-own - attorneys can be helpful. Come learn about things to consider when accessing farmland and when to bring in an attorney. There will be plenty of time set aside for Q&A.

Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons
Greg Schieber, Nethercut Schieber PLLP
Brett Olson (moderator), Renewing the Countryside

Afternoon Break




Breakout Session 4
Track A: Co-learning & Sharing Experiences Working with Transitioning Landowners
Every situation working with transitioning landowners is unique, yet there are some common themes, experiences and insights we all share. This session highlights the fact that we all have something to contribute and something to learn. Toward that end, this will be a lightly facilitated open space to share observations through successes and failures, lessons learned, and discuss questions posed to the group.   

Karen Stettler, Land Stewardship Project
Kathy Ruhf, Land for Good

Track B: Brainstorming a Toolkit for Farmland Access
How can farmers navigate the complex landscape of local planning, policy, development, and financing to access farmland for the long term? How can service providers support this effort? In this participatory session, we'll explore these dynamics as they play out in the Upper Midwest and facilitate a collaborative discussion with participants about possible ways forward as farmers fight for agricultural futures on their land.

Kajsa Beatty, Minnesota Farm Service Agency
Mhonpaj Lee, Mhonpaj's Garden;
Inspire Access Realty

Michael Zastoupil, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Track C: Collaborative Models for Farmland Access
Given current realities of land access challenges, collaborative models offer solutions to some of these challenges such as affordability, community and infrastructure needs. With few examples of existing models, establishing these models takes development, expertise and time. How can we bring together resources to creatively think about how collective land access can make secure land tenure more accessible to beginning farmers and provide other benefits as well? This session with look at different models, what are the features of these models and how do they meet the needs of different farmers and different situations. We will hear from a panel of organizations who have models of collective access and then open up the discussion to hear from others in the room with knowledge in these areas.

Hannah Breckbill, Humble Hands Harvest
Valentine Cadieux, Twin Cities Community Agricultural Land Trust; Commons Land
Katie Kubovcik, Renewing the Countryside; Prairie Smoke Gardens
Nicholas Leete, Rooted
Moses Momanyi, Kilimo Minnesota
Lucia Possehl, Sharing Our Roots
Yimmuaj Yang, Groundswell Conservancy

Track D: BT Farms: Centering housing equity & racial justice in an agricommunity for Dane County, WI
Hear about plans for an agricultural housing development in Madison, Wisconsin aiming to improve farmland access for BIPOC farmers, restore wetlands, and create affordable housing. Presenters will share information about agricommunities and their potential to address integrated challenges of housing equity, food security, and access to land, as well as the ups and downs of the community planning and design process so far. We'll also discuss housing and land policies that are shaping the project.

Becky Steinhoff, BT Farms
Mrill Ingram,
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Track E: Farm Service Agency Efforts to Assist with Land Access
Come learn about Farm Service Agency programs that assist beginning and emerging farmers and hear about efforts FSA has undertaken to make their services more accessible and easier to navigate for people who are new to FSA. Then hear about two of the projects that are receiving funding through FSA's Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program.

Ellyn Oelfke, Minnesota Farm Service Agency
Aaron Blyth, Latino Economic Development Center

Tera Johnson, Food Finance Institute

Closing Remarks & Gratitude

Jan Joannides, Executive Director, Renewing The Countryside

Optional Tour of Farm at the Arb!
Tour the amazing Farm at the Arb, right at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum! Hear about the Farm's amazing suite of programming, including the Farm Apprenticeship Program, and visit the Farm's brand new Bee Center and Myers Education Center, featuring a state-of-the-art cooking classroom.

Tour begins immediately following the Summit's conclusion. Meet in the lobby of the Oswald Visitor Center, then drive through the scenic Arb to get to the Far

Led by Tim Wilson, Farm Education Manager, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

2023 Sponsors

Platinum Sponsor


Gold Sponsors 

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Silver Sponsors 

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Bronze Sponsors 

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Contact Summit Organizers

If you have additional questions, need help registering, or have special requests related to the Summit, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Catie at

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