Join us in welcoming Katie Steere, a farmer and community leader from Glocester RI, to the Land For Good team as our new Rhode Island Field Agent.
We met Katie last January 2020 through the Landing on the Right Acre farmer storytelling event that brought together a slice of the agricultural community. On that cold evening, a large group convened over food and drinks as farmers recounted their journeys into agriculture through the lens of accessing farmland. The event provided some personal and instructive insights into the breadth of farmland access challenges and successes in Rhode Island, as well as the diversity of farmer personalities in the region.
Katie shared a poignant story about her aspiration to return to and revive her family farm. Her farming roots stretch back to her childhood where she grew up on her family’s seventh generation dairy farm, which had closed down before she was born. Intergenerational conflict did not allow her to realize her dream of stewarding that land into the next generation. After four years of establishing and growing Deep Roots Farm, Katie obtained a subsequent lease situation and relocated Deep Roots to land where she feels secure and excited to build from now.
My personal land search first seemed like a series of missed connections and opened my eyes to the unique challenges we face in Rhode Island with farmland access,” shared Katie. “My experience with my family’s land was both gut wrenching and extremely educational. I am eager to put my passion and insights with these complex issues to work to assist with farmland access throughout the state.”
Katie will provide direct assistance and training to farmers, farm families and farmland owners who are seeking land, want to plan a farm transfer, or want to make land available for farming. She will also work state-wide to collaborate on projects with local partner organizations. Katie is passionate about digging into this work and collaborating with partners.
I have known Katie now for several years since her return to RI and so much appreciate not just her story but putting her life experiences and passion to work helping farmers access land,” shared Ken Ayars, Divisions of Agriculture and Forest Environment, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. “She has lived the experience she tries to help others navigate and knows that good outcomes are possible whatever twists and turns the pathway often brings. Her focus and determination will advance the mission we all share with Land for Good.”
We are excited about the next chapter of our work in Rhode Island. More effort must be put into making land available, affordable and secure for farmers. One of the biggest challenges for many new and expanding farmers is access to land. In RI, high land prices and the limited amount of open land parcels appropriate for farming are key struggles. At the same time, we know that many older farmers who want to see their land remain in farming feel overwhelmed or unsure how to retire or transfer their farm. (Gaining Insights study)
Young, beginning, and non-white farmers in particular struggle to gain access to farmland. The racial demographics of Rhode Island farmers are changing, and we must help ensure that all farmers have equitable access to farming opportunity and the resources they need to flourish and contribute to a vibrant state and regional food system. Farmers need stable land tenure in order to meaningfully contribute to a sustainable and resilient food system. (Generosity and justice in Rhode Island)
Katie received her Bachelor of Science Degree in International Business at Northeastern University and Bachelor of Arts Degree in European Business at Dublin City University in Ireland. Since returning home to Rhode Island in 2016, she has been an active member of the Young Farmer Network (YFN) of Southeastern New England, which connects members of the beginning farmer community in Rhode Island and neighboring states with a mission for a just, equitable, and sustainable local food system. Katie currently serves as the treasurer of YFN, a chapter of the National Young Farmers Network.
We are excited to welcome Katie – and another farmer – to the LFG team! There are many wonderful people doing great work in Rhode Island to improve farmers’ farmland access and land tenure,” shared Shemariah Blum-Evitts, Program Director at Land For Good. “Katie’s first-hand knowledge and eagerness to support the farming community will bring great energy to Land For Good’s mission in Rhode Island.”