Leala Rosen has joined us as a Collaborative Management Intern to strengthen project implementation and development. Bringing knowledge and experience from working on gender-related issues in landscapes in Nepal, she will be developing the gender-responsive curriculum for the existing Landscape Climate Smart Agriculture (LCSA) trainings to be facilitated in Tanzania this spring. She will also support the project development of “Agriculture Green Growth in Province 3, Nepal: A landscape strategy for realizing the SDGs and developing climate resilience”.
EcoAg: Could you tell us a bit about your background?
Leala: My background is in sociology and anthropology, and I have been involved in community gardening, food systems, and international development since college when I lived in an environmental/sustainability-focused student housing co-op and co-ran the college’s community garden. After college, I served as a Food Security Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Nepal, which was my first introduction to semi-tropical landscape management systems. The community where I lived was in the mid-hills and consisted of terraced rice fields, kitchen gardens, forested areas, as well as rivers and streams that separated one rural village from the next. Everything grew well there – broccoli, cucumber, avocados, mangos, papaya, mustard greens, pumpkins, onions… I love to cook, so it was always fun to share culture through cooking with my host family and community members.
Living in Nepal, I saw firsthand the ways in which agriculture, environmental issues, and natural resource management are intrinsically connected. People rely on community-based natural resource management, such as forest protection and utilization, for their livelihoods and subsistence needs. At a landscape level, communities rely on forests for water retention and improved soil health, which then connects to their private agricultural land, use of agroforestry practices, and more. People I spoke with in Nepal were also aware of climate change, and many had a strong understanding of environmental conservation, climate change, and crop yields.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I collaborated with local stakeholders to facilitate nutrition-sensitive agricultural trainings, promote WASH behavior change, and develop and implement menstruation workshops for over 200 students. Since then, I have worked for the past few years in community development and food systems. I managed a non-profit urban youth farm in a food desert and worked with refugee gardeners as a Farm & Training Specialist with the International Rescue Committee in my hometown of Dallas, Texas.
I am currently an MPS (Master of Professional Studies) candidate in International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University; I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology with a concentration in Environmental Studies from Hendrix College. My master’s research analyzes gender equity and social inclusion among community forest user groups in Nepal.
EcoAg: What makes you excited to work with EcoAgriculture Partners?
Leala: I am so excited to be part of the EcoAgriculture Partners team for many reasons, primarily for its cross-sector work regarding integrated landscape management in various contexts. Each landscape is different, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to land use policies or practice. EcoAgriculture Partners is committed to involving multiple stakeholders in land use planning and recognizes that integrated land management is context-specific. I really appreciate the ways in which EcoAgriculture Partners develops strategic partnerships, amongst others with institutions and other local stakeholders, to collaborate on integrated land management techniques.
Although there are many organizations working on similar issues, it is so much easier to work at the farm, business, or institutional level in terms of sustainable food production, rather than the landscape level. However, the landscape level is where the long-term, sustainable impacts can occur. Involving multiple stakeholders, creating an enabling environment, and working collaboratively at the landscape level is how sustainable food systems will be able to benefit local populations. I am excited to be involved in EcoAgriculture Partners’ work on integrated land management – while it is a complex challenge further impacted by climate change, this work is critical to improving subsistence farming and livelihood opportunities for farmers around the world.