Since 2008, Leigh Adcock has been the Executive Director of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN), a woman-based community practicing and spreading awareness of sustainable agriculture. WFAN seeks to promote networking, knowledge-sharing, leadership development, and ultimately, policy change by connecting women farmers, landowners, and advocates. Adcock’s time as Executive Director has led to substantial increases in WFAN membership, the growth of the network to a national level, and the creation of a series of teaching and leadership-based programs designed to strengthen WFAN’s community of women farmers.
According to Adcock, she learned “careful farming from [her father] and a love of the outdoors.” After studying communications, journalism, and public policy, Adcock went on to work in media and public relations, as well as contribute to a number of environmental justice and sustainable agriculture organizations. Adcock came to WFAN from the Iowa Farmers’ Union, bringing with her considerable experience in the food movement and dedication to offering equal opportunities to women farmers nationwide.
WFAN currently operates three programs: Harvesting Our Potential, Women Caring for the Land, and Plate to Politics.
Harvesting Our Potential is an on-farm apprenticeship program which trains women in sustainable agriculture methods and places them with short-term farmer mentors for hands-on experience. The teaching program Women Caring for the Land educates women landowners about conservation. The open-forum structure of the program allows more experienced landowners to share their knowledge with women newer to the community. Finally, Plate to Politics provides the right information and resources to allow women to become advocates for healthy food systems at local, state, and federal levels. Adcock believes increased participation in policy-making is key to healthier food systems: “Women must become more involved in creating more systems in the world. The more women have power in creating systems that work, the more things will change for the better.”
Adcock’s valued work with WFAN is helping strengthen and promote the growing role women are filling in sustainable agriculture and family farming. Thanks to her service and dedication, women farmers and landowners may work towards exacting positive change in their industry, their market, and ultimately American food systems. Adcock’s ultimate vision is “that what’s now considered alternative agriculture becomes mainstream…There is no reason why we can’t feed the planet. It can feed itself using healthy farming methods and in fact it’s the only way we can feed the world.”