UNDATED (WJON News) - The challenges of farmland access and affordability will be front and center at a virtual listening session next week.

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Project Optimist, a non-profit organization, was founded to help people collaborate across common divides, tackle seemingly intractable problems, and grow more optimistic about the future of their communities, region, and world. Based in St. Michael, Project Optimist hosts a “Project Purple” podcast series based on the results of listening sessions dealing with the environment, business, and social issues.

The virtual listening session is Tuesday, October 17th, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Nora Hertel is the founder and Executive Director at Project Optimist. She says the sessions will focus on the future of farmland in Minnesota.

There's a lot of variety of perspectives. When you look at age, when you look at land management around fields, when you look at soil health practices, those kinds of things. There's a lot of choices, and those are tied to resources as well. How much money do you have to invest? What state programs are there? We're hoping to have people coming from different kinds of agriculture, so that we can have really fruitful conversation.

Once admitted to the virtual listening session, attendees will be sorted into smaller groups (six to eight people plus a moderator and journalist), and spend the time answering questions and listening to others in the small group.

Alexa Shapiro, event manager for Project Optimist, says they hope to have a wide variety of participants.

We've been encouraging people who have essentially ownership or management over land to consider coming to the dialog. We're encouraging anybody who has an interest in agriculture or sustainability to come to the event. The beautiful thing about the dialogues are that we bring people together who have a lot of different opinions and viewpoints and perspectives. This is a good opportunity to come together and connect with other folks who also have similar interests and might be looking to bridge some of those divides that exist across the industry.

Pre-registration is required for the listening sessions.  For more information on the sessions, or to pre-register, click here.




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