Women Landowner Photovoice Exhibit at Reiman Gardens

"River Stories" participants L to R: Betty Wells, Courtney Turnis, Danielle Wirth, Angie Carter, Patti Edwardson, Colleen Radebaugh, Jan Kaiser, and Chris Henning. "River Stories: Views from an Iowa Watershed," a Photovoice exhibit co-sponsored by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, is on display at Reiman Gardens now through March. Part of the display will also be shown at the Practical Farmers of Iowa Conference this Friday, January 20, 2017.

Danielle Wirth, WFAN co-founder, will lead a brown bag discussion at Reiman Gardens on February 9 from 12-1 PM. More information on the  brown bag can be found on our Facebook page or at their website here.

Six women landowners in the Raccoon River and Des Moines River watersheds in western Iowa worked together to build the exhibit, which consists of photos the women took of their farms, along with captions generated through group dialogue, to create "photostories." The project debuted in June 2016 at the town center in Perry, IA.

Project leaders were WFAN members Angie Carter, Jean Eells, and Betty Wells, all of whom have worked with women farmland owners to collect information and provide conservation education using WFAN's Women Caring for the Land peer-to-peer "learning circles" method. "This woman-led, grassroots project elevates women landowners, identifies solutions to local social problems (water pollution, land restoration, biodiversity, etc), and is an example of how we (as powerful, strong, women leaders!) reframe the issues on our own terms," said Angie.


Angie explains, "Photovoice is a community-based process that uses photography and group dialogue to understand topics of importance or concern within a community." She adds that Photovoice is different from documentary photography in that it prioritizes the participants' own experiences. Community members, rather than an outside photographer, take pictures of their own community. The resulting photos and captions serve as a source of knowledge and discussion for participants and the community at large.

“One of the side benefits of the project, beyond spreading the word about issues affecting the watershed, is the opportunity to meet some like-minded women who are willing to roll up their sleeves and make a difference. Working with these women has inspired me to spend time learning more about the importance of crop rotation, cover crops, and protecting our water sources, “ shared participant Jan Kaiser, a fifth generation Iowa farmer near Woodward.

Other participants included WFAN board member Patti Edwardson of Churdan, Chris Henning of Cooper, Colleen Radebaugh of Rippey, Courtney Turnis of Coon Rapids, and WFAN founding member Danielle Wirth of Woodward. Along with WFAN, other sponsors of the debut presentation were Raccoon River Watershed Association and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, which provided funding for the project.

Do you have your own photos and stories to share? Visit the project Facebook group at this link to read others and post your own.

NewsSherri Dugger