NCR SARE Grad Student Grants

The 2018 North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Graduate Student Grant Call for Proposals is now available online at

Graduate students enrolled at colleges or universities in the North Central region can submit proposals for up to $12,000 to fund sustainable agriculture projects that will be part of their educational programs. NCR-SARE expects to fund about 15 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region.

NCR-SARE will be accepting proposals for the Graduate Student Grant Program using our online submission system. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for proposals. Proposals must be completely submitted to the online system by 4 p.m. CDT, April 12, 2018.

Previously funded proposals have contributed to farmer or rancher profitability, environmental quality, and the enhancement of the quality of life of farmers or ranchers, their communities, and society as a whole. NCR-SARE strongly encourages students to involve farmers and ranchers in their Graduate Student Grant projects.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. A collection of farm and non-farm citizens, the AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.

Potential applicants can contact Beth Nelson with questions at or 612-626-4436.

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Organic Decision Support Tools Project Seeks Farmer Cooperators

Researchers at the Universities of Illinois and Vermont are collaborating in a study to improve cover crop biomass and nitrogen estimates for farmers in the Midwest and Northeast to improve N credits for nutrient planning. Results will be incorporated into goCrop, the nutrient planning tool developed by University of Vermont Extension. The project is seeking on-farm cover crop measurements (height, % ground cover, maturity) and cover crop and soil samples in the spring of 2018 at the time of cover crop termination.

Interested farmers can sign up here.

Cooperators need to be:

  • Located in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont
  • Currently growing rye, clover, hairy vetch, alfalfa, alone or in mixes
  • Using mechanical termination and organic fertility

Participating farmers will receive:

  • $50 stipend
  • Personalized report of cover crop biomass and nitrogen content
  • Free 10-meter satellite imagery (vegetation index and color images) for any fields in the program


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2018 Organic Grain Winter Conference

Join area row crop producers Friday and Saturday, January 26 and 27, 2018 on the UW-Madison campus to explore beginning and advanced topics focused on successful organic grain production and marketing. This two-day intensive offered by the Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN) and the Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC) at UW-Madison will guide farmers in taking advantage of the rapidly growing market for organic grain.

Presentations, panels, and discussions led by experienced organic farmers, researchers, agency personnel and industry representatives will engage attendees. We’ll learn from experts as well as the expertise that each participant brings. Keynote presenter Klaas Martens brings a vast storehouse of knowledge from years of diversified grain production on 1,600 certified organic acres in upper New York state.

The two-day event is just $80.00 per person, which includes 15 presentations, a resource book, access to sponsor information tables, as well as light breakfast and full lunches on both Friday and Saturday. Please register by Monday January 22. Walk-in registrations for $95 may be available but check this website before you leave to see if  space is available!

For more information, contact Harriet Behar 608-872-2164

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Scholarships to attend the SARE conference

The North Central SARE Administrative Council wants to have diverse voices and perspectives represented at the Our Farms Our Future Conference, as we gather to envision the future of sustainable agriculture. A limited number of scholarships are available for qualified applicants. Scholarships will be awarded to encourage attendance by young farmers and ranchers, future researchers (graduate students), and long-time sustainable agricultural practitioners from diverse backgrounds. Scholarships will cover registration, travel, and lodging during the conference.

We are especially interested in awarding scholarships to applicants who might not otherwise be able to attend, and to applicants who represent the diverse demography (race, ethnicity, age, sex, veteran status, geography) of our North Central region.

Scholarship applications will open December 4, 2017 and be evaluated weekly, on a rolling basis starting December 11, 2017 until all scholarships are awarded. Go to this link to apply or cut and paste the address into your browser window:

You must reside or farm in one of the twelve states of the North Central region (IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, and WI) to be eligible for this scholarship.

If you are unable to apply online, please contact Jean Andreasen,, phone: 612.626.3113, for a print form, which can then be mailed or emailed back to the NCR-SARE office.

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Food waste solutions webinar

There has been much talk lately about the food waste problem, but less about solutions. The focus of this webinar will be on existing programs and solutions implemented by four public entities that can serve as models for other public and private programs as well. Topics covered include program development and evolution, lessons learned, and solutions that may be applicable to other cities and programs.

To register click here

The webinar costs $29 and will feature the following Programs:

  1. San Francisco’s Comprehensive Mandatory Food and Other Organics Source Separation and Composting Program. Alex Dmitriew, Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator. San Francisco Department of the Environment

Learn why and how San Francisco has implemented mandatory composting resulting in 99% of all properties compliant in having service. Hear the challenges and lessons that you can learn to utilize this model for food and organics recovery.

  1. The City of Minneapolis Residential Organics Recycling Program. Kellie Kish, Recycling Coordinator. City of Minneapolis, Division of Solid Waste & Recycling

Discussion will include the timeline going from a pilot to drop-offs to the citywide residential organics recycling program and share educational tactics to encourage participation in the program. The City’s residential program has less than 1% contamination due to their continued educational efforts.

  1. The City of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance’s Organics Diversion Program. Selene Castillo, Waste Diversion Planner. Austin Resource Recovery, City of Austin.

Discussion will focus on Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance’s Organics Diversion component, upcoming studies, and the results of a commercial organics diversion baseline study.

  1. Pursuing Organics Management in NYC, America’s Largest City. Bridget Anderson, Deputy Commissioner Recycling and Sustainability, New York City Department of Sanitation

Learn about the diversified approach NYC is using to provide organics recycling our residents and businesses, the status of the program to date and what is coming in 2018.

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Project Coordinator Organic Seeds and Markets: Corn Case Study

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois is seeking a postdoctoral researcher to coordinates and manage a participatory project that seeks to strengthen regional organic food systems by improving our ability to use organic methods and on-farm testing networks to improve seed supply, and satisfy consumer preferences in growing markets.  This multidisciplinary research project will present ample opportunity to interact with scientists across disciplines and institutions. The candidate must have excellent organizational skills, be detail oriented, and have the ability to work well with farmers, agricultural industry, and academic audiences. This person will work as a network facilitator by leading communication with partners and collaborators to ensure accomplishment of objectives, coordinating data collection efforts, organizing field days, and developing content for eOrganic. This person will lead analyses and publication of results in peer-review journals. The on-farm component of this project will require travel within the Midwest.

The minimum qualifications are a PhD in agronomy, soil science, agricultural communications or related discipline. The candidate must have experience working with farmers and be knowledgeable of organic grain cropping systems.

This is a 12-month position and benefits eligible. The expected start date is January of 2018. Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications.  Contact Carmen Ugarte at  Applicants should submit a letter of interest, a CV and the names of three references by December 8.





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eOrganic webinars this week: Corn Types and Barcode based data collection

There is still time to register for this week’s webinars!

September 27: 10AM Pacific, 11 Mountain, 12 Central, 1 Eastern: Hybrid, F1, Double Cross, and Open-pollinated Corn: What Does it All Mean? The intended audience is anybody with an interest in different types of corn varieties and their relative merits. In the webinar, corn breeders Margaret Smith of Cornell University and Richard Pratt of New Mexico State University will explain what different types of corn varieties are, how uniform or variable each type is, and highlight the relative advantages and disadvantages of the different variety types. This webinar is part of the NIFA OREI funded research project Breeding Non-Commodity Corn for Organic Production Systems. Register here.

September 28: 11AM Pacific, 12 Mountain, 1 Central, 2 Eastern: Part 3 of Webinar Series on Barcode Based Digital Data collection for Vegetable Breeding Programs: Harvest Data and Final Analysis

Part 3 of this ongoing series will focus on harvest based component of the system with an emphasis on the connected instrumentation for dimensions, weights, photographs and quality instruments and how data is compiled for final analysis. At the conclusion, participants will be able to evaluate whether they will choose to invest in this technology and will have examples of how to get started in assembling their own data collection pipeline.  If you haven’t attended any other webinars in this series, register here. The recordings of the first 2 webinars can be found on the Plant Breeding and Genomics YouTube channel!

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Still two Land Connection ‘Women who farm’ field days left

I don’t know about you but I am kicking myself that I have missed these..   this weekend sept 24 focuses on fruit and herbs!

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IOGA-ASAP Field day at U of I tomorrow

Sept 14  Building a farm to fork business

After starting at the Student Sustainable Farm at 9.30 with Matt Turino w

We move to the I Hotel at 10.30. 

Agenda and some notes.. 

10:45 a.m.  Dr. Carmen Ugarte and team members will discuss a new Illinois Local Grains Initiative .   This includes an on-farm trial and related on-campus work that involves NRES, Crop Science, Food Sciences, ABE, ACE, USDA-ARS and Extension!

11:10 a.m. Brian Jacobson will describe how Food Science and Human Nutrition’s Food Processing Pilot Plant is partnering with U of I’s dining services before Dr. Juan Andrade explains how their research can help optimize processing for local product development—  Brian and Dining services are taking all the organic grain from our new organic study that resides on the south farms for use in the dining halls.  Juan Andrade will look at how processing influences grain quality. Next year we hope for capacity to look at edamame quality.. not this year.

12:15 p.m. Lunch will feature SSF produce and Chefarmer Ken Myszka of Epiphany Farms who will discuss how to grow a farm to fork business. *  This is a local farm to table success story you wont want to miss.

1.30. Fred Kolb and Bill Davison will talk about a new wheat variety named Erisman that was developed by the University of Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station and released in 2017. Erisman is an early maturing soft red winter wheat adapted to Illinois and surrounding states for organic production. The new variety was developed by the small grains breeding program headed by Fred Kolb. The project was spearheaded by Allison Krill, who worked with Fred since 2013.  Breeding lines were selected that were disease resistant and moderately tall to provide competition with weeds. Breeding lines were evaluated at multiples locations for several years. The U of I wheat breeding program partnered with local organic farmer Harold Wilkins to evaluate Erisman under organic production on Janie’s Farm in Danforth IL.  Harold has been working with others including U of I Extension’s Bill Davison and the Grand Prairie Grain Guild to develop high quality grains for local production.   The variety has been named “Erisman,” in honor of Jack Erisman, a long-time leader in Illinois’ sustainable agriculture movement and one of the first organic farmers in the state, who was involved in the formation of the Illinois Organic Crop Improvement Association Chapter, The Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Society and the Council of Food and Agriculture Research.  While Jack acknowledges that the variety might be tall, like he is, he isn’t sure he deserves the honor. The new variety is already making waves as grain grown in the 2017-18 growing season on campus’ South Farms will be milled at the Food Processing Pilot Plant for use by campus’ Dining Services.

At 2:30 p.m. Interested folks will go to campus to tour the FSHN Pilot Processing Plant.

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Promoting equity in local food systems through Cooperative Extension

When: Wednesday, September 6, 12 – 1 pm Pacific Time/3 – 4 pm Eastern Time

How can we apply equity and anti-racism principles to our food system work? In answer to this question, this webinar provides three examples from the Cooperative Extension System of efforts to promote equity and undo racism in local food systems. These examples from North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania offer a range of experiences and strategies.

Kaitlin Wojciak, from Michigan State University Extension, will describe a recent training and learning group dedicated to exploring issues of power, privilege, and racial equity for the state’s Community Food Systems team. Shorlette Ammons, from North Carolina’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems, will discuss the Center’s efforts to embed an equity lens and practice into all areas of its work. Heather Manzo, from Penn State Extension, will describe work with an urban food policy council to engage diverse community members and positively impact equity issues in the metropolitan food system.

Please join our speakers to discuss how these equity initiatives have evolved, the challenges they have faced, and the supportive factors that contributed to the success of their efforts. This webinar is put on by the working group on Undoing Inequality in the Food System and the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association.

Please register here and be sure to include any questions you have for our speakers about their work.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


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