Sarah Wentzel-Fischer, Quivira Coalition director, on Regenerate 2023

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer is a farmer, a writer, a connector, an advocate. Officially, she wears several hats. She is the Executive Director of the Quivira Coalition, an organization focused on building soil, biodiversity, and resilience on western working landscapes.

Sarah raises pigs and makes compost with her partner on Polk’s Folly Farm in northern New Mexico. Farmers in New Mexico elected Sarah to represent them on the board of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. We talk a little bit about what that means for Sarah’s involvement in farm bill negotiations and other advocacy work related to that role in our conversation. But most of our conversation focused on the upcoming Regenerate Conference. Quivira organizes the annual event together with American Grassfed and Holistic Management International. This year, it’s taking place November 1st to 3rd in Santa Fe.

Western Landowners Alliance is a sponsor of the event and the online podcast will be there. Recording content and sharing stories in a planned podcaster’s corner. Sarah and I talked about the theme of this year’s event and some of the highlights, for both of us, on the agenda. And, the first day of the conference this year is completely free to attend.


Links and references from Sarah Wentzel-Fischer, Quivira Coalition director, on Regenerate 2023

Regenerate Conference

Dr. Aidee Guzman

Shaniko Wool Company – Jeanne Carver

Cactus Hill Farm – Elena Miller-terKuile

New Agrarian Program

HERD Fellowship

Musician Lara Manzanares

Trees, Water & People

Alicia Thompson – National Young Farmers Coalition

Episode Transcript

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: It’s important for us to be thinking about what are better land management practices, but also what are our cultural practices that keep us connected to each other as people and to the landscape.

Louis Wertz: Hey there, this is Louis Wertz, Editor in Chief of On Land. Today I’m thrilled to share with you my conversation with Sarah Wentzel-Fischer. Sarah is a farmer, a writer, a connector, an advocate. Officially, she wears several hats. She is the Executive Director of the Quivira Coalition, an organization focused on building soil, biodiversity, and resilience on western working landscapes.

And Sarah raises pigs and makes compost with her partner on Polk’s Folly Farm in northern New Mexico. Farmers in New Mexico elected Sarah to represent them on the board of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. We talk a little bit about what that means for Sarah’s involvement in farm bill negotiations.

And other advocacy work related to that role in our conversation. But most of our conversation focused on the upcoming regenerate conference. Quivira organizes the annual event together with American Grassfed and Holistic Management International. This year, it’s taking place November 1st to 3rd in Santa Fe.

Western Landowners Alliance is a sponsor of the event and the online podcast will be there. Recording content and sharing stories in a planned podcaster’s corner. Sarah and I talked about the theme of this year’s event. Some of the highlights, for both of us, on the agenda. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late.

And, the first day of the conference this year is completely free to attend. I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation with Sarah Wentzel-Fischer as much as I enjoy doing it. On to the show!

So, I’m having you on because we are thrilled to be a partner of the Regenerate conference which I know Quivira is putting on together with… Holistic Management International and American Grassfed. I wanted first of all to just ask you about the theme of this year’s conference, which is always interesting and always seems when you read it, I think regenerate is [00:02:00] great for this seems so broad and then somehow you guys tie it all together.

So I was going to ask you about the theme of this year’s conference. It’s called microbes, markets, and climate. And if you could take a stab today, a month before the conference to describe what you’re hoping to achieve with such a broad set of topics and how you’re going to weave them all together.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: Sure, I am happy to speak to that. In this moment, I am deep in the weeds of conference logistics, so zooming out to talk about what are the big ideas is, yeah, we’ll see where we go. I think that the general concept is to really encourage both our speakers and our audience to be thinking at multiple scales and to really have the capacity to zoom in and to zoom out.

I think often in a conversation about what are the intersections of agriculture, land stewardship, and climate change, people kind of get pigeonholed into, well, I’m a scientist and I think about microbes, or I’m an advocate and I’m thinking about the pros and cons of carbon markets, or I’m trying to help producers figure out how to do both be able to make a living selling their livestock and manage the land, or on the other end of the scale, you have folks who are thinking about big picture, global scale climate change.

But I think it’s important that we are able to about how those scales intersect and where we can find space for collaboration with one another working across those various scales. So I think that those are some of the things that we’re trying to get at with this year’s conference theme. And, um, really we do try to keep our conference themes pretty broad so that.

Anybody can step in and it’s just an entry point is a point of conversation and a whole suite of questions with a little bit of focus to help us come together and have a good conversation and community.

Louis Wertz: I wonder if you could tell me about somebody or some buddies on the agenda that you’re excited to hear because they have that.

That’s not an easy thing to do, to go from being able to know something at that microbe or soil surface level and then connect it to something that’s as big as climate change in your own mind or daily work or whatever. And is there somebody on the agenda who you’re particularly excited because they do that regularly.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: I think everybody who’s speaking at the conference, when we start chatting with them about it, their wheels Transcribed get to turning and they’re like, Oh yeah, I actually do work across those multiple scales. Just today we were talking about Dr. Guzman who is going to join us from California and she’s doing a whole suite of work around how much biodiversity plays into, and diversity on a particular farm operation, play into soil health.

And, but she’s also I think in looking at diversified farming systems, talking to folks who are working at a lot of different scales, but often are working at a smaller farm scale, meaning that they’re [00:05:00] accessing different types of markets and that that has intersections with Thank you. Advocacy that’s happening for small family farms, for example.

So I’m really excited to hear her topic and sort of how she bridges both that human and market based scale with the work that she’s doing with microbes. So she’s one that comes to mind. Some other folks I’m really excited about hearing from at this year’s conference is Jeanne Carver. She is the founder and president of Shaniko Wool Company.

She’ll be doing a split plenary with Elena Miller-terKuile. And I hope that I said Elena’s name correctly. And if I didn’t, I’m sorry, Elena. They are both sheep grazers and Jean is really, I think, focused on and thinking about how she can scale an operation and be engaged in carbon markets. So I think that she’s somebody who’s really thinking about that big global climate impact and how that plays out day to day on her operation and impacts the markets that she’s able to access and also how There’s market value added through her particular business structures, so really excited to hear from her and yeah, I mean, I think our lineup of speakers is great and in a similar way to years past, this year’s conference will have a diversity of offerings will have folks who are single speaker on stage will have a number of conversations on stage that will be the same as it has been in the past, but some things that we’re doing is that are different and new this year at the conference.

We recognize that one of the things that people love about our conference is just getting to interact with one another and have a lot of audience time together. So things that we are doing to really try to maximize that are longer breaks, a much longer lunch break, which seems like a small thing, but I think is actually really significant and important.

We also have two social events that will happen, which are free and open for folks to attend. And I think the biggest thing that is new and different this year, which I’m super excited about is that we are creating more spaces for folks who haven’t been to a regenerate conference before to come and sample the conference without having to attend the entire thing.

So we have on November 1st, that day, we’ll. be a day of a number of workshops and educational offerings that we haven’t done in the past. And this day is open to anybody who would like to attend. So if you find yourself in the Santa Fe area on November 1st and would like to join us, you can just walk in.

And hopefully this will give folks an opportunity to see what the Regenerate conference is about, but also what the audience is about. Because so much of what happens has to do with all the wonderful people who [00:08:00] come together. I think the last thing I’ll say about that is one of the things that I love about our conference is that I can rely on the fact that there’s as much knowledge and expertise and experience in the audience as there is on stage, probably more.

And so that opportunity to get to engage with everybody who is there is really Pretty special and excited to bring in more folks and really think about how do we have a diverse audience. So just want to encourage folks again, if you’re in Santa Fe on November 1st and would like to join us and get a little bit of a taste of what the Regenerate Conference is about before you commit to a full three days, Wednesday is the day to do that.

Louis Wertz: That’s really cool. I was wondering, and looking at the schedule, like, oh wow, is it going to be open to anyone on that first day? And it is, and that is just thrilling because there are so many cool people in the Santa Fe area who are doing amazing things, want to know about this, are engaged in this work, and just probably haven’t thought, this is for me yet, and this is an opportunity to check it out.

So that’s super cool. And then the other point that you made, which is Why I most enjoy going to regenerate frankly is that the people who come who aren’t on the agenda are the people who make it such an amazing thing and one of the things that I’ve noted over the years that is critical to that is the fact that you have this group of New agrarian program mentors and new agrarian apprentices who are sometimes a little bit unscattered throughout the agenda, but there’s this whole crowd of them that get to come and use this as their sort of culmination of their experience in some ways.

And they bring such an immediate set of learnings that’s so vibrant, you know, they have just come off of this transformational experience. And that I always find thrilling. I wonder if you could tell people who don’t know much about that program a little bit more about it and how it kind of plugs into what happens at Regenerate.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: So our new agrarian program is a regenerative apprenticeship program focused on large landscapes. So that translates to working with a number of ranchers. Those ranchers basically volunteer to be mentors to folks who are early career agrarians who want to get training and often aren’t given the opportunity in other places to learn about things like pasture management, low stress animal handling, other things that really constitute.

What goes into regenerative ranching. So yes, all of those folks come to our conference. We work with around 25 ranches from Montana to New Mexico each year. And each of those ranches hosts one or two folks for eight months in a working apprenticeship situation. We support the. Mentors and the apprentices over the course of the season, both sort of mentally and emotionally as well as educationally.

And they are a really magical group of folks who are there at the conference and contribute to that audience magic that we’ve been talking about. There’s also a couple of other groups of people that I want to name that will be at the conference that are not on stage, but. that I think are notable. So another facet of our conference is we have something called a herd fellowship.

This was actually a program that was started at the grass fed exchange four or five years ago. And I was so impressed with how it was able to bring in diverse group of young folks to their conference that I approached the folks who funded that. project there and said, Hey, what do you think about trying to create an opportunity for, uh, these types of folks to attend a number of agricultural based conferences and they were on board.

So we now offer this program. It’s a scholarship plus program. So we support about 20 people to come to the conference. It’s a full ride. It covers their tuition, travel, and lodging while they’re there, which I think is significant, but what’s more significant is that we’re doing some cohort building with that group of folks.

And some of them are farming and ranching. Some of them are scientists or in other types of conservation professions. And, Some of them are other types of land stewards, so it can be a pretty diverse mix, and we do try to focus on folks who historically haven’t attended our conference. And so there’s a ton of perspective and knowledge that that particular group also brings to our conference and are some of my favorite people to meet at the conference each year.

So yeah, we have a variety of different groups that often don’t get visibility on the stage, but really I think make the Regenerate Conference special.

Louis Wertz: It’s definitely something that the Quivira Coalition and this conference is known for is working hard to broaden the stage and also just to diversify the audience and the participants.[00:13:00]

I know that’s been a conscious effort and particular passion of yours and the leadership of the conference. Is there anything else you want to say about like how that informs what you guys are trying to do at this year’s event?

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: I don’t know if it’s particular to this year’s event, but I think in general, as all three of the partners, Quivira, American Grass Fed, and Holistic Management, I think we all have a commitment to really understanding how important it is to have a diverse set of perspectives, both on stage and in our audience, and have made a conscientious effort to pay attention to that, build relationships with folks so that we actually can.

Make that a reality at our conference. And I think that for me, this maybe even connects back to our conference theme, which is when you have diverse knowledge and cultural perspectives on land stewardship and experience that that type of diversity actually contributes to diverse agricultural practices, which contributes to.

Diversity on the landscape, which then means we have more diverse microbes and the whole system just functions better in my opinion. So I think that all of those things are connected and yeah, we continue to lean into that. And I don’t think that we’re perfect, but all the time we’re trying to think about those things, which actually reminds me that there are a couple of pieces that I’m.

Excited about at this year’s conference that will also be new. We’re trying to bring in a little bit more arts and culture because I think creative practice and arts and culture are really critical piece to keep folks both inspired but also Encouraging them to think creatively So we will have some poetry and we will have some music at this year’s event and in ways that are connected to the theme.

So for example, Lara Manzanares will be joining us. She’s a musician from northern New Mexico and she’ll be offering a performance during one of the lunches. And at the end of the day to close our conference on Friday, talking about just sort of some of the songs that are really connected to agriculture in northern New Mexico.

So looking forward to some of those facets because I think that those pieces are connected. Also, it’s important for us to be thinking about What are better land management practices, but also what are our cultural practices that keep us connected to each other as people and to the landscape?

Louis Wertz: Yeah, that actually reminds me of my favorite Rocky Mountain Farmers Union experience ever was a group singing event that they had in southern Colorado.

And it was just so naturally connected between the songs about farming and about union solidarity and about and the land there and that we were eating food that the farmers had grown on that place as a, you know, culmination of the day. So that’s fantastic that we’ll get to bring that into the Santa Fe Convention Center.

Because I think one thing that’s always challenging about organizing a conference with 400 and some odd people, maybe more, is that you are trying to find a place that also connects. To these themes and I know the conference has moved around a little bit in the last few years and you were up here in Denver last year trying to find a place that might connect a little bit better to that and you’re back in Santa Fe this year.

Is there anything you want to say about those decisions and how that why back in New Mexico and not that I’m complaining. I love Santa Fe, but yeah, like what’s the story there?

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: Last year being in Denver was the first time that the conference was not in New Mexico and just a little bit of historic context.

I think that this will be our sixth year doing the Regenerate conference as a collaborative, but prior to that Quivira Coalition hosted a conference for I think 15 years. So this will be either our 21st or 22nd annual gathering. And yeah, all except for this last year have been in New Mexico and being in Denver was wonderful.

The National Western Center was a fantastic partner and it really is very connected to the mission of our work and the purpose of the gathering. And I think we look forward to going back there again at some point. We’ve never hosted the event in Santa Fe before. I thought that we had, and I think I wrote that somewhere, but I don’t think that we actually have ever had an annual meeting in Santa Fe.

But I’m really excited to be in Santa Fe, and I’m Particularly excited to be at the convention center in Santa Fe. The convention center is an unusual space as a convention center. It’s relatively small and Santa Fe is also a small town. That’s one facet that I really like about being in Santa Fe is that Santa Fe has so much to offer and it’s all within walking distance.

So I think that that will be a real benefit to folks who are coming in from. out of town and from out of state. But the convention center also was a Pueblo village and just prior to being the convention center, a high school. And when they started to build the convention center and do some necessary excavation, they learned that it was built on a Pueblo village and it actually put a pause on construction of the convention center for a number of years while they sorted it out, but it has some interesting facets.

For example, there is a plaza in the center of the convention center, which is beautiful. It’s an outdoor space that I’m really excited for folks to get to spend time in. And hopefully it’s not a blizzard. You never know the beginning of November, but they’re not allowed to. Put a hard paving surface. So they have, it’s a brick pavement there and they can’t build any permanent structures there.

And that’s an agreement that they have with several of the tribes who were involved in the rematriation of some of the materials and decision making around what happened on that particular site, it also is just adjacent to what used to be the waterway of the Santa Fe river. So there’s a. beautiful sculpture of fish swimming that’s just adjacent to the convention center.

So there’s lots of pieces of history of this particular place that I think are really connected to a lot of the things that we like to talk about during this conference. So while we are in the middle of Santa Fe, we’re not sort of close to a farm the way we were two years ago when we were at Old Town Farm in Albuquerque.

This site I think has a lot to offer and a lot for folks to chew on and think about in terms of transformation of land over time and land stewardship.

Louis Wertz: Yeah, that’s really exciting. I’ve realized that you’re right. I’ve never been to a regenerate in Santa Fe. So I think I’ve been, other than two years ago, I’d been to five, all of them that since the conference has been produced jointly. So I’m getting more and more excited to attend and which is the point of the conversation. One more thing that I was really excited to see on the schedule that I thought maybe you could talk about, and I’m really excited to go to these sessions is that there’s a couple of sessions that are focused on agroforestry and one in particular that’s on agroforestry in the Southwest, which I think might be a surprise to some people who are coming from farther away.

And also just in general, agroforestry, when I’ve seen it on agendas or Benda sessions about it in conferences on sustainable agriculture or regenerative agriculture, they tend to be people talking who are practicing it in the East coast where there’s lots of rain and trees grow fast. And a lot of the systems were forests before they were cleared for agriculture.

And so it’s interesting. To me to hear focus on Western agroforestry and Southwestern agroforestry in particular. And I wondered if you could just preview that a little bit for me since I’m so curious.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: The agroforestry focus comes out of a small but I think important project that Quivira Coalition has been working on for the last two years.

In partnership with U. S. Forest Service Agroforestry Program. We got a small grant to develop a set of case studies on indigenous Southwest indigenous agroforestry practices. And so we are working with some. fabulous partners, Trees Water People, really want to give a shout out to them, have been a leading partner in this particular project.

And we did case studies with three different folks on what are Southwest agroforestry practices and Looking at, even though we are a very dry place, how might a silvopasture system work in our context? What does thinking about drought tolerant fruit trees and nut or berry shrubs look like? What are the appropriate animals to integrate into those types of systems?

So in some ways, it’s not sort of the basic pieces of agroforestry that you hear about in terms of systems from the East Coast are all there, but it’s definitely in a Southwest context where what we might be talking about in terms of a silvopasture system may be a different approach to how you manage.

Pinyon juniper encroachment or those types of things. So the workshop that will happen on Wednesday that is focused on Southwest Agroforestry will screen three short films that were produced by Trees Water People out of that project, and we’ll have a number of folks who participated. in that project.

They’re speaking as a panel and having a discussion with folks who are attending. We’re also producing a, uh, short technical guide that will have a really nice review of literature talking about what tribal agroforestry has looked like in the Southwest for some time and sort of. where there has been research and where there hasn’t been research on that topic.

And then we’ll have the three case studies. And then another person who has worked on this project with us is Alicia Thompson. And she works for the Young Farmers Coalition. She is from Laguna Pueblo, but she will be talking about Southwest Agroforestry on the stage and talking just about how that is a practice that has happened here for millennia.

Since time immemorial and how there is a ton of knowledge that I think has always been relevant and has even more relevance in a time when we’re talking about trying to understand best practices for climate resilience. So really looking forward to her talk. Her research also comes out of graduate, I think it’s a thesis on the same topic.

So excited to hear from her and that’s the agroforestry offering at this year’s conference.

Louis Wertz: I got inspired by Southwestern sort of agroforestry stuff when I was given a cookbook called Eat Mesquite and More, which is all, there’s none of those, none of those local foods are really, not none of them, but very few of them are, have made it this far North or there’s Sonoran desert foods.

So they’re not here in my neighborhood in Denver, but they’re West of Denver, but it’s just a fascinating way of connecting that. The cuisine to the practices, [00:24:00] and so I’m really excited to go in here directly from Alicia and from the folks at Trees Water People. Yeah, so, we don’t connect often enough, Sarah, but it’s always such a pleasure talking with you.

I want to ask this question, and I hope it’s not like, it doesn’t seem trite, because it’s like, what is the question that I didn’t ask you that you wished I’d asked you? Oh, man. But I think that there’s just so many things we could talk about that I’d love to know, like, what one of those things is so we don’t spend the next hour and a half down a rabbit hole

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: That’s a tough one. I want you to ask me one more question, and I have one other thing that I remembered that I wanted to talk about. How about that?

Louis Wertz: Perfect. Yeah, that sounds good.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: One thing I think also is significant about this year’s conference and has both been intentional and unintentional is that While we have three primary partners who organize this event, it always takes a ton of collaboration, but we often have talked about what are the ways that we can bring in other partners and full day on Wednesday, uh, for me has been pretty special because that is.

A space where we actually have brought in other partners. So we have a whole suite of presenting sponsors that we have the Rodale Institute and American Farmland Trust and Trees, Water, and People and the Southwest Grass Fed Livestock Alliance and so many others, and it’s just to me. A real pleasure to find a way to deepen connections with other organizations and bring them into the mix in the hopes that it is an event that is not just a Quivira event, but is an event that is held by a broader community of folks who are doing this work.

Louis Wertz: It’s a really nice way to start because it’s also an opportunity for those folks to feel like they get to introduce themselves, not just to the people who regularly attend the regenerate conference, but also all of the other people in the Santa Fe community who might be interested in learning about it.

So it’s a really neat way to use that day, but I’m looking forward to it. The other question that I want to ask you, if you can connect the theme of the conference—microbes, markets, and climate—to this Farm Bill, or if there was even a thought that that might be a good way to tie what we’ll be talking about there to what the Farm Bill ought to look like in your mind.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: I do think that they are connected. I don’t know that it is by intention or by design. Farmer’s union priorities are definitely focused on ways in which we can continue to prioritize climate resilience and certain programs in the farm bill, make sure that that language and attention is there. I think that there are other priorities about making sure that we’re Really supporting particularly livestock producers in the Southwest working at, you know, maybe more of a direct market scale through having expanded capacity for meat processing on one side of things and technical support for processors and support for producers to understand how to enter.

Direct to consumer types of markets. I think on the flip side of that is just Continuing to push on which is not a farm bill priority, but is to continue to push on consolidation in the meat market and addressed some of the antitrust situations that have been It’s a century now of pushing on that particular situation, but I think that that sort of plays into the theme of markets that we’ll talk about at our conference and also intersects with some significant conversations about equity in the marketplace and how we address some of that.

I think another big priority is encouraging USDA to be thinking about water differently. which I think is connected to the conversation about how do we prioritize climate resilient agriculture. And it used to be that the Southwest was the only place that would say, Hey, what about water? And it seems like increasingly most places are waking up to how much their water resources are impacted in one way or another by climate change.

And so I think that that will be real important in the coming. Farm bill and is definitely a Rocky Mountain Farmers Union priority to be thinking about how are we Thinking about how much water we actually have. How are we measuring that? How are we distributing it equitably and how are we balancing different types of priorities like ecosystems?

agriculture and urban spaces So those are some of the things that come to mind around the farm bill I will say my guess is that the farm bill process will be an arduous and slow one that we may be working off of the existing farm bill for a while, I suppose, at that TBD. And I think the last thing that I’ll just say is that I think that the farm bill is really critical, but at the beginning of September was in D.C. for the Farmers Union fly in, and I think maybe more so than other years heard. Folks who are in more bureaucratic positions, permanent positions within different agencies, talking about the need to be thinking across agencies and finding partnerships, both within the USDA, across sub agencies, and then also thinking about how does The EPA, for example, work with the USDA or how does the Department of Interior interfacing with the USDA because particularly in the West, land issues really rely on all of those agencies in pretty substantive ways because we have so much public land and it was new and it was kind of refreshing and I don’t know that that will have implications in the Farm Bill, but I think that that’s really important and it was great to hear those different agencies talking about Thank you.

Finding ways to have better dialogue and ideally better communication and potentially collaboration with one another.

Louis Wertz: It’s great to hear you mention that because it reminds me that I noted that Zach Ducheneaux, the administrator of the Farm Service Agency, is on the agenda and I suppose he’ll probably face some questions about those kinds of things.

I know that they have been trying really hard as at FSA to make those connections under his leadership, but I think that’s something that’ll get touched on at Regenerate as well.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: I’m very excited to have him come and I also was just a couple weeks ago at Farm Aid and he was there as well and I learned during that visit that the USDA has a, and it may be somebody in FSA actually who has a, is sort of an official liaison to BIA, which also is important to know, particularly in the Southwest.

So, yes, I’m excited that Zach is talking at the conference and really looking forward to hear what he has to share with the audience. And one more

Louis Wertz: thing that I’m actually going to say, I’m surprised you didn’t mention, because I know it’s woven throughout the agenda, it’s been a passion of yours, it’s, and it is something that the Farm Bill could address, is access to land and the generational transfer of land.

But I feel like there was just a marker bill that got, made a little bit of headlines related to that, that has come out. I don’t know if Farmers Union is related, is tracking that, or has been behind any of the movement there.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: We would have to talk to the government relations person at Farmer’s Union about that.

I am particularly passionate about land access and land transfer. And there will be a number of folks who will be speaking who I think that that will be woven into what they are talking about. It’s such a big piece of how I think we have some deep culture shift in how agriculture happens is who gets to steward it in the future.

I think that land transfer feels almost impossible, which also makes it pretty provocative to think about how do we do it differently than we have in the past. I’m excited that USDA has, or that Congress has put some money aside to begin to experiment with how we might do that more at an institutional level.

But I think that there are some challenges there.

Louis Wertz: Some of the resources for USDA recently from Congress have been specifically earmarked for helping beginning and young farmers access land, which is I think a first that there’s a specific program with that explicit sort of goal. But as you say, the challenge.

Seems so insurmountable to so many people that it’s kind of a provocative thing to just ask people to think about. There was quite a bit in the agenda last year at Regenerate addressing this. There always is. And is that part of it? Just that like we have to push the

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: envelope on this? Yes, I absolutely do think that we have to push the envelope and just that I think particularly in a Western context, land access has to do with so many different agencies because we have much public land.

And I don’t think that public land agencies have really been invited into the conversation about land access in a meaningful way. And particularly on this podcast and with this audience, I feel like planting that seed could be important and significant, which is how are we thinking about land access in a Western context where the next generation of folks doing land stewardship, it may not be part of their reality to buy a ranch and manage it as exclusively private land.

But there are a lot of opportunities, I think, to have a sort of patchwork of different types of land tenure. And if we really want to create systems where that next generation can step in and have access to land and get the support that they need around land stewardship, we need to be inviting folks like BLM and the Forest Service and our state land offices to the table in discussions about what the future of land access looks like.

Louis Wertz: Yeah, that’s been an overlooked component of this, for sure, and a huge opportunity, when you put it that way, about how much those agencies actually do functionally decide who manages land and can participate in agriculture in the West, so that’s a very cool point. And I’m very much looking forward to talking with you and with with all kinds of other people at Regenerate in a month in November in Santa Fe at the convention center about all of this stuff.

There’s will not be time to get into all of the things that I wish I could dive into even over three or four days in Santa Fe, but it’s thrilling to think that there is going to be so much dedicated time and thought about those conversations that we can all participate in. So thank you so much for curating it together with your partners and all of the awesome staff at those organizations.

And thanks for being on the show today.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: Thank you so much for having me. One final plug is you can still register for the Regenerate conference. You can find it at And if you are concerned again about signing up for a full two days for the full conference price tag, Wednesday is a great day.

It is free and open, but we do ask folks to register. And then we also have a number of discounts for beginning farmers and ranchers and other folks. So if we want to make our conferences accessible as possible, if you want to come and are finding it challenging to do so, just reach out to and let us know, and we’ll find a way to help you participate and come

Louis Wertz: right on. Thanks, Sarah. Really appreciate it.

Sarah Wentzel-Fischer: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Louis. It’s nice chatting with you.

The On Land Podcast is a production of the Western Landowners Alliance, a nonprofit organization founded and led by landowners. We are committed to sustaining, working land, connected landscapes and native species. Half of all the land and most of the best habitat in the west is privately owned. So if you care about the future of the American West, now’s the time to get to know the Alliance and support private land stewardship, learn more and join us at

Louis Wertz: Louis here again. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Sarah Wenzel Fisher. For information about how to register for the regenerate conference and links to some of the other cool things we talked about, head over to onland.westernlandowners. org slash podcast, complete show notes and a transcript of this episode, as always are available there.

I’ll see you in Santa Fe.

Louis Wertz is editor-in-chief of On Land and communications director at the Western Landowners Alliance. He lives in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, with his wife and two young children.