Coordinated by the NCR-SARE Alumni Organization, the term "NCR-SARE Hero" recognizes the leadership, vision, contributions, and impact that certain people have made in the field of sustainable agriculture in the region.
Margaret Krome has spent thirty years developing programs and policies supporting sustainable agriculture. Krome’s interest in agriculture dates back to her childhood, as the grandchild of a Florida avocado and citrus grower. She holds an English degree from University of Virginia, and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute, which she attended after serving as an agro-forester in the Peace Corps, in Cameroon. Krome remained in Wisconsin where worked for the Wisconsin Rural Development Center (1986-1995), and then joined the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) in 1995, where she continues to work today overseeing their policy program, including her work on the annual campaign to fund federal programs supported by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. An asset to sustainable agriculture in Wisconsin, Krome helped develop the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, the UW-Madison’s Pesticide Use and Risk Reduction program, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program, and the state's farm-to- school program, among others. Krome’s service to NCR-SARE includes her membership on the advisory committee for Wisconsin’s State SARE Program, where she offers input to Wisconsin State SARE coordinator, Diane Mayerfeld. In addition to her work with MFAI, Krome currently serves on the board of the National Center for Appropriate Technology and writes a bi-weekly editorial column for The Capital Times in Madison.
Leaders in sustainable agriculture offered tributes as Krome was nominated and selected to receive this recognition, including:
- “Margaret has been a contributor to our advisory committee since at least 2003, when I became involved with SARE in Wisconsin. She is one of the most consistently responsive members in reviewing scholarships and mini-grants and in participating in the annual planning meeting. In addition to being an active and insightful member of the committee, she has helped recruit several other members of the committee. She combines a strong commitment to sustainability with a willingness to engage with a wide range of individuals and organizations in agriculture, from MOSES to the Farm Bureau. Another important contribution is that Margaret has been the main speaker at our farmer grant workshops for at least five years. Her work promoting sustainable agriculture grants to farmers, both in Wisconsin and nationwide, has strengthened the pool of applicants and has built support for sustainable agriculture in general.” Diane Mayerfeld, Wisconsin’s State SARE Program Coordinator
- "Margaret in her quiet, unassuming way has done so much to improve access to federal grant programs, especially to groups that are not experienced in submitting grant proposals. One of her most enduring contributions started in 2004 with the publication she spearheaded about federal grant programs in sustainable agriculture, Building Better Rural Places. She has doggedly updated all iterations since, and these days I end nearly every inquiry I get about funding opportunities with a reference and link to Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Grassroots Guide to the Federal Farm and Food Programs. The indexed list of federal grant programs sorted by topic area, with lots of practical information about applying for specific grants is a valuable guide for those seeking funding. And she has overseen Michael Field's grant assistance program, catering especially to historically underserved applicants, helping them to sift through the grant application rhetoric and submit competitive proposals." - Beth Nelson, Regional Coordinator of NCR-SARE
The NCR-SARE Hero Recognition honors individuals who 1) have provided service to NCR-SARE or national SARE, 2) have shown leadership in sustainable agriculture locally and regionally, and 3) have made lasting impacts to sustainability in the North Central region.
NCR-SARE is one of four regional offices that run the SARE program, a nationwide grants and education program to advance sustainable innovation to American agriculture. Since 1988, NCR-SARE 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 for Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.