About Us

North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) is one of four regional offices that run the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, a nationwide grants and education program to advance sustainable innovation to American agriculture. NCR-SARE offers competitive grants and educational opportunities for producers, scientists, educators, institutions, organizations and others exploring sustainable agriculture in America’s Midwest.

NCR-SARE has awarded more than $40 million worth of competitive grants to farmers and ranchers, researchers, educators, public and private institutions, nonprofit groups, and others exploring sustainable agriculture in 12 states. Project abstracts can be found by searching the SARE project database.

NCR-SARE's offices are hosted by the University of Minnesota in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, which prepares engineers, scientists, business professionals and leaders in the discovery, development and application of renewable resources and sustainable technologies to meet society's needs while enhancing the environment in Minnesota and beyond.

America's Heartland

The 12 NCR states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin — have a rich agricultural history. The region embodies what most people think of when they envision the Heartland ... endless rows of corn, strong family traditions, quaint rural towns. The Heartland is this, and much more: highly diversified farms, urban-rural partnerships, community-supported agriculture ... The NCR’s challenge has been to hold fast to historical roots in a contemporary manner, preserving its place in the front lines of food production and promoting healthy food systems.

From the wheat and cattle of the high plains to the dairy farms and orchards of the northeast; from the corn, soybeans, and tall grass in our center to horticulture in the Ohio River Valley; from community-supported agriculture to farm cooperatives region-wide, the NCR’s agricultural landscape is large and diverse.

The region’s cultural history, agricultural prowess, and innovative new systems behoove us to enhance rural areas and support healthy, productive farms and ranches. SARE strives to sustain NCR agriculture by encouraging research and education on economically viable and environmentally sound systems that strengthen communities.

Diverse Leadership

North Central Region SARE is managed and led by our regional Administrative Council, State Coordinators, regional Technical and review committees, and staff. The NCR funds cutting-edge projects every year in competitive grant programs. 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 our 12 states. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, and universities. In addition, regional representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and NCR agribusinesses, state agencies, and foundations sit at the table to distribute grant money.

Each state in SARE's North Central Region has one or more designated directors of sustainable agriculture education, called Professional Development Program (PDP) State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators. These leaders are responsible for administering sustainable agriculture activities and educational events.


Regional control means projects are need-driven and funds are invested in answering the right questions.

The Administrative Council not only serves as the grant decision-maker, but also promotes sustainable agriculture by providing policy direction and initiating new programs.

Council members elected to directly support farmers and ranchers with grant funds in 1992. They created SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program exclusively for farmers and ranchers conducting on-site research and education in sustainable agriculture.

Through grant-making and other initiatives, NCR leaders have supported and illuminated connections between people, communities, and natural resources, promoting healthy food systems in the North Central region.

Mission Statement

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education strengthens communities, increases farmer / rancher economic viability, and improves the environment by supporting research and education.

This is congruent with the national legislation which created the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture research and education program now entitled "Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education."


Foster site-specific, integrated farming systems; satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality, natural resource conservation and the integration of on-farm and biological resources; enhance the quality of life and support owner-operated farms; protect human health and safety; and promote crop, livestock and enterprise diversity and the well-being of animals.

Core Ideologies

Core Value: The sustainability and well-being of all aspects of agriculture and those communities that support agriculture.

Core Purpose: To preserve resources, to achieve the best environment possible, to produce the highest quality of product, and to maximize quality of life.

Click here to read more about NCR-SARE's core ideologies.