NSAC's Blog

SARE Roundup: News on Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

March 22, 2016

SARE_National_CMYKThis is the latest in a series of periodic blog posts on the latest happenings in each of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) regions as they roll out project solicitations and announce grant awards.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program funds farmer-driven research and education through a competitive grants program. SARE is a regionally based, outcome-oriented competitive research program that has been sustainable agriculture research for over 25 years. SARE is the only competitive grants research program offered through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that focuses solely on sustainable agriculture.

SARE is administered through four regional councils of producers, researchers, educators, and government representatives. These regional councils are responsible for setting SARE policies and grant making. Because each of the SARE councils houses their program information, requests for proposals, and other important information separately, NSAC provides a periodic aggregation of data from across the regions – the “SARE Roundup”.

Each one of SARE’s four regional offices administers three primary grant programs: Research and Education, Professional Development, and Producer Grants. Some regions also offer additional grants for community innovation, graduate student research, agricultural professionals conducting on-farm research, and region-specific initiatives. Read on for more details into what is going on in each SARE region!

National SARE Publications

SARE publishes national resources to help farmers, ranchers and extension professionals engage in sustainable agriculture practices. Two of the latest publications include:

North Central SARE (NC-SARE)

NC-SARE has announced calls for proposals for 2016 Graduate Student Grants and the 2016 Professional Development Program.

The Graduate Student Grant funds about fifteen projects each year for up to $12,000 for each grant. The project proposal deadline is April 14, 2016 at 4 p.m. CDT, and must be submitted online.

The Professional Development Grant Program funds projects for up to three years, and is capped at $75,000 for each project. Approximately $420,000 will be available to fund projects in this round of applications. The project proposal deadline is April 6, 2016 at 4 p.m. CDT and must be submitted online.

In March, NC-SARE announced the recipients of the 2016 Youth Educator Grants and the 2016 Farmer Rancher Grants. For the Youth Educator Grants, NCR-SARE awarded nearly $23,000 to twelve projects. 43 grant projects totaling more than $400,000 were awarded for the 2016 Farmer Rancher Grant Program.

Recipients of the Farmer Rancher Grant included a wide variety of producers who plan to explore sustainability in agriculture through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. The following short list of projects exemplifies the breadth of projects that SARE administers, both in terms of the farmers involved in the research, as well as the agricultural topics on which the research focuses:

  • “Developing Effective Alternative Pest and Disease Management Strategies for Sustainable Hop Production,” Carla Wosoba of Wosoba Farms Hops in Cedar Rapids, IA
  • “Modeling Efficiency and Safety in a Vegetable Wash and Pack House,” James Millsap of Millsap Farm in Springfield, MO
  • “Berkshire Value Added Meat Product Marketing Coalition,” Jim Pierce with Of The Earth Farm in Rayville, MO
  • “Exploring the Economic and Environmental Sustainability of No-Till Organic Sweet Potato Production,” Tom Buller of Buller Family Farm in Lawrence, KS
  • “Evaluating On-Farm Value Added Production in Utilizing Unmarketable Produce to Reduce Waste while Helping Small Farms Engage in Agritourism and Become More Profitable,” Lance Kraai of New City Urban Farm in Grand Rapids, MI
  • “Anishinaabe Traditional Food Restoration for Local and Market Consumption,” Winona LaDuke of Ojibway Growers in Ponford, MN

In January 2016, NCR-SARE announced ten projects that were awarded nearly $300,000 under the 2016 Partnership Grants. Both non-profit community-based organizations and land grant universities received awards, with research project topics ranging from organic no-till production to honey-bee failures, to women farmers. Project samples include:

  • “Collaborative Food Supply Chains for Iowa’s Farmers,” Jason Grimm with Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development in Amana, Iowa
  • “Building Capacity via Peer-to-Peer Food Safety Education with Hmong-American Fruit and Vegetable Farmers,” Annalisa Hultberg with the University of Minnesota
  • “Causes of Honey Bee Queen Failure in Commercial Beekeeping Operations,” Marla Spivak with the University of Minnesota
  • “Women Farmer and Landowner Learning Circles: Addressing Sustainability in a Changing Climate,” Kathie Starkweather with the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Nebraska
  • “Partnering to Refine Organic No-Till Production in Wisconsin,” Erin Silva with the University of Wisconsin
  • “Use of High-Residue, Winter-Killed Cover Crops in No-Till Organic Tomatoes,” Claire Strader with FairShare CSA Coalition in Madison, Wisconsin

Northeast SARE

Applications are now open for project proposals for the 2017 Graduate Student Grant Program, a competitive grant for graduate students to research topics in sustainable agriculture for the benefit of farmers and agriculture service providers. Grants are capped at $15,000 and projects can run for up to two years. The proposal submission deadline is May 10, 2016 with awards to be announced in August.

Pre-proposals for Professional Development Grants and Research and Education Grants will be due in June 2016, with the exact application due date to be announced soon.

Northeast SARE is announcing several events to be held through March-April 2016:

  • Northeast SARE will host a professional development training on Cover Crops for Soil Health on March 29-31, 2016 in Baltimore, MD. The event will bring together agricultural service providers and farmers from around the region.
  • The 6th annual Sustainable Cropping Systems Symposium will be held April 1, 2016 at Pennsylvania State University. Sarah Carlson, Midwest Cover Crops Research Coordinator for the Practical Farmers of Iowa, will offer the keynote address followed with a three-hour symposium.
  • The Just Food Conference: A Forum on Land Use, Rights & Ecology, hosted by the Harvard Food Law Society and Food Literacy Project at Harvard, will be held March 25, 2016 in Cambridge, MA.
  • The World Green Energy Symposium will be held April 7-8, 2016 at the University of the District of Columbia. The focus of the symposium will be water and energy sustainability.

Southern SARE

SSARE is currently accepting proposals for three grants projects for FY 2017:

SSARE will be holding their Cover Crop Conference on July 18-19, 2016 at the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. The conference will feature workshops and field demonstrations on cover crop research and extension priorities.

In March 2016, SSARE announced a call for nominations for a new Administrative Council (AC) Producer Member in order to fill a vacancy on their AC. Nominees must be producers with proven experience in sustainable agriculture and its impact on the environment and rural communities. Criteria for appointment also include running your own farm. Two producer seats need to be filled, with nominations considered from all thirteen SSARE states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. AC members serve a three-year term. All nominations must be emailed to John Mayne by July 8, 2016. The deadline for nominees to complete an online SSARE application is July 15, 2016.

Also in March 2016, SSARE announced that eight projects will receive funding through their On-Farm Research Grants, and seven projects will receive funding through their Producer Grants, which are two of six grant opportunities available through SSARE.

On-Farm Research Grants help county extension agents, Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel, university researchers, and non-governmental organizations conduct on-farm research in conjunction with farmers and ranchers. Each award is capped at $15,000, and the total funding provided by the 2016 On-Farm Research Grants is $117,772.

Clemson University received four of the eight awards, with research proposals on Peanut, Cotton, and Soybean Production; Peach Production; and Cover Crop Influence on Stored Soil Water.

Projects covered under Producer Grants are strictly for farmers and ranchers to research projects on their farms; the eight projects selected were awarded more than $70,000 in this round of applications.

With awards from 2015 now complete, SSARE has published the full list of final projects that received funding. The list includes project descriptions and award amounts, in addition to featuring a research project by the Alabama Cooperative Extension on using net houses for pest management. SSARE has also published a training handbook for extension and technical assistance personnel, to enable them to help farmers and ranchers implement sustainable agroforestry practices in the Southern United States.

Western SARE

Western SARE is currently accepting proposals for five grants projects for FY 2017:

The Western SARE Administrative Council recently announced a new regional coordinator, Dr. Rhonda Miller, an Agricultural Environmental Quality Extension specialist. Miller is an associate professor in the Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Department at Utah State University, and began as the program’s new regional coordinator on January 15, 2016.

In addition, the Western SARE AC welcomes four new council members: Jim Farrar, Western IPM Center; Brian Higginbotham, Utah State Extension; Joe Munyaneza, USDA-ARS; Bryce Wrigley, Alaska Flour Company. Their biographies are available here.

Western SARE offers a new field publication on Sustainable Livestock Grazing Management for western ranchers and land managers who must confront increasing populations of invasive plant species. The report highlights four successful Western SARE-funded projects addressing livestock grazing on rangelands and riparian areas.

Western SARE has also published a full list of the projects funded through the 2016 awards cycle. 37 projects totaling almost $2.9 million will be awarded to innovative researchers, farmers and ranchers who will be investigating topics in food safety, rangeland management, cover crops and soil health, season extension, and more. A separate list of nine projects funded through the Graduate Student Grants is available here.

Western SARE currently has no open call for proposals. We will alert readers in mid-April of any new opportunities, once the proposal period begins.

Categories: Grants and Programs, Research, Education & Extension

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