NCR-SARE’s 2021 Farmer Rancher Grants

May 10, 2021
With support from a 2018 Farmer Rancher grant, Richard Barnes and Kelly St John built an elevated strawberry cropping system in Indiana.

NCR-SARE Program is pleased to announce the projects recommended for funding for the 2021 Farmer Rancher Grant Program. 58 grant projects were selected to receive a total of more than $709,000 through this NCR-SARE grant program, which offers competitive grants for farmers and ranchers who are exploring sustainable agriculture in America’s Midwest.

The Farmer Rancher Grant Program is a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. Those selected to receive funding included (in order alphabetically, by state):

  • David Edwards with Smooth and Social Roots in Chicago, Illinois was awarded $8,920 for the project, “Smooth and Social Root’s Youth Urban Agriculture Education Pilot Program.”
  • Shirley Johnson with Johnson Farm in Mapleton, Illinois was awarded $8,997 for the project, “Pioneering Assessment of a Woodchip Bioreactor with an Organic Cropping System.”
  • Jacob Landis with JL Acres in Sterling, Illinois was awarded $6,570 for the project, “Double Crop Organic Sunflowers in Northern Illinois.”
  • Gavrielle Welbel with Zumwalt Acres in Sheldon, Illinois was awarded $7,609 for the project, “Investigating the Ecological Impact of Pairing Agroforestry Establishment with Biochar Production.”
  • Ann Carnes with Wild Pansy Farm in Crothersville, Indiana was awarded $17,425 for the project, “Leveraging Biodiversity to Improve Profitability on a Small-scale Vegetable Farm.”
  • James Steven Doty with ECIBA in Fortville, Indiana was awarded $25,320 for the project, “To Evaluate the use of SuperDFM on the Improving of the Winter Survival Rate of Honey Bees.”
  • Dave Fischer with Fischer Farms in Birdseye, Indiana was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Conversion of Row Crop Acreage to Beef Cattle Pasture Using Sorghum-Sudangrass.”
  • Henry Guyver with Little Red Henry Farm Products in Carthage, Indiana was awarded $8,969 for the project, “Goats and Pigs on Pasture, a Comparison of How the Two Types of Animals Contribute to Soil Fertility.”
  • Zuleyja Prieto in Goshen, Indiana was awarded $26,993 for the project, “Heritage Corn: Planting, Challenges and Educating from the Family Plot Perspective.”
  • Eric Jellum with Jellum Farm in Osage, Iowa was awarded $6,555 for the project, “Establishing a Temperature Gradient to Enhance Geothermal Heating and Cooling of a High Tunnel.”
  • Jennifer and Raymond Kruse with White Blossom Farm in Colesburg, Iowa were awarded $3,328 for the project, “New Variety Strawberry Trial for Iowa.”
  • Julia McGuire in West Des Moines, Iowa was awarded $9,000 for the project, “A Monthly Planner that Combines Phenology and Beekeeping to Improve Honey Production and Native Foraging Habitat.”
  • Bob Recker with Cedar Valley Innovation in Waterloo, Iowa was awarded $26,576 for the project, “Demonstration of Utilization of Cover Crops in Wide Row Corn to Improve Soil Health.”
  • Kristy Walker with Walker Homestead Farm & Winery in Iowa City, Iowa was awarded $25,670 for the project, “Companion Planting of Sunflowers in Vineyards for Pest Bird Management.”
  • Jonathan Conard with Tenth Street Orchard in Sterling, Kansas was awarded $5,898 for the project, “Trial of a Combination Plasticulture / Matted Row Strawberry Production System in Central Kansas.”
  • Sarah Stephens with KS Hemp Consortium in Wichita, Kansas was awarded $26,250 for the project, “KS (Kansas) Fiber Hemp Variety Trials.”
  • Alexandra Cacciari with Seeley Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Trialing Native, Herbaceous Perennials as Cut Flowers and Foliage for Sale to the Wholesale Floral Industry.”
  • Kevin Donner with Mshko’Ode Farm in Brutus, Michigan was awarded $8,993 for the project, “Evaluating the Effect of Two Pastured Poultry Rearing Systems on Pasture Health and Carcass Quality.”
  • Jeremy Moghtader with the University of Michigan Campus Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan was awarded $5,491 for the project, “Stacked Functionality Greenhouse Use for Mushroom Production: Utilizing Space under Transplant Tables to Diversify Crops and Income.”
  • Todd Quick with Peach Ridge Farms in Grand Rapids, Michigan was awarded $3,200 for the project, “Fertilizing Greenhouse Basil with Leaves.”
  • Robert Barbeau with Beautiful Beard Grain Farm in Saint Paul, Minnesota was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Direct to Consumer Market Research on Whole Grains, Legumes, and Oilseeds.”
  • Zachary Knutson with Knutson Shorthorns in Pine Island, Minnesota was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Evaluating the Forage Potential and Financial Viability of Grazing Diverse Annual Forage Crops in a Traditional Corn/Soybean Rotation.”
  • Valerie Luhman with Grassfed Cattle Co. in Goodhue, Minnesota was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Evaluating the Impact of Corn and Soy Feed and Corn-Free Soy-Free Feed on Animal Health, Growth Rates, and Meat Quality in Pastured Poultry.”
  • Moses Momanyi with Dawn2Dusk Farms in Cambridge, Minnesota was awarded $18,000 for the project, “Educating Emerging Farmers in Specialty Crop Production and Sales Through an Incubator Farm Education Program Using Soil Health Practices.”
  • Jim Riddle with Blue Fruit Farm in Winona, Minnesota was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Using a Laser System for Non-toxic Deterrence of Birds and Raccoons in an Organic Berry Orchard.”
  • Michelle Rossman with Rossman Farms in Oronoco, Minnesota was awarded $17,439 for the project, “Evaluation of Soil Health Measurement Tools by Current and Future Farmers to Demonstrate the Benefits of Sustainable Practices.”
  • Dan Sheild with Stone Creek Farm in Shefer, Minnesota was awarded $8,840 for the project, “A Protection System for Growing Peaches in Cold Climates.”
  • Noreen Thomas with Doubting Thomas Farms in Moorhead, Minnesota was awarded $26,824 for the project, “Marketing Small Grains Direct.”
  • Nashad Carrington with GRŌ in Saint Louis, Missouri was awarded $26,930 for the project, “GRŌ, a Cloud-based Management and Training System for Speciality and Lifestyle Farmers.”
  • Lauren Haffner with Mountain Jewel in Gainesville, Missouri was awarded $3,220 for the project, “Breeding a C. moschata Grex with Resistance against Squash Bugs in the Ozarks.”
  • Brian Keeter with Harmony Hills Farm in Leslie, Missouri was awarded $5,866 for the project, “Natural Fly Control on Rotational Grazing Silvopastures.”
  • Beth Neff with MARSH Food Cooperative in Saint Louis, Missouri was awarded $17,996 for the project, “Neighborhood-Based Cooperative Market Gardening in Carondelet, Saint Louis, Missouri.”
  • Walton Sumner with Sumner’s Farm in Webster Groves, Missouri was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Effects of Regenerative, Organic, and Conventional Soil Management and Glyphosate on Crops’ Chemical Composition.”
  • Ryan Tenney with Sankara Farm in Kansas City, Missouri was awarded $15,781 for the project, “Improving Community Outreach and Education Methods in Sustainable Agriculture.”
  • Julia Thompson with Lula B’s Community Farm in Saint Louis, Missouri was awarded $1,640 for the project, “Community.”
  • William Korinek with BarWD Ranch Company in Wellfleet, Nebraska was awarded $8,997 for the project, “The Effect of Management Intensive Grazing on Carrying Capacity in a Commercial Cow-Calf Operation Located in South Central Nebraska.”
  • Steve Enger with Enger Farms in Hatton, North Dakota was awarded $8,051 for the project, “Strip-Till Corn in Established Rotational Organic Alfalfa.”
  • Chandler Glover with Grownup Vertical Farming in Loveland, Ohio was awarded $18,000 for the project, “Indoor Rearing of the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) within a Recirculation Biofloc Aquaculture System.”
  • Dana Hilfinger with Roots, Fruits and Shoots in Columbus, Ohio was awarded $8,931 for the project, “The Costs and Benefits of Winter High Tunnel Supplemental Heat and Row Covering.”
  • Morgan Rich with Petal Flower Farm in Cincinnati, Ohio was awarded $7,086 for the project, “No Water, No Power, No Problem! Sustainable Small Scale Cut Flower Production with Limited Resources.”
  • Branden Schmurr with Healthy Hills Farm in Cincinnati, Ohio was awarded $2,995 for the project, “Investigating the Appropriate/Inappropriate Landing Theory in Pumpkin Production.”
  • Erik Scott with Scott Farms in Georgetown, Ohio was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Enhancing Midwest Hop Productivity Using Photoperiodism.”
  • Jeanine Seabrook with Glass Rooster Cannery in Sunbury, Ohio was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Extending the Harvest Through Partnerships to Scale-up Value-added Local Food.”
  • Tom Crofton with Skyview Farm in Richland Center, Wisconsin was awarded $3,388 for the project, “Clipper/Drag/Crimper.”
  • Valerie Dantoin with Full Circle Farm in Seymour, Wisconsin was awarded $25,800 for the project, “Supporting New Farmers Through Mentoring and Membership in a Cooperative.”
  • Heather Gayton with ZanBria Artisan Farms in Friendship, Wisconsin was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Water and Soil Quality Composting Design Research Initiative.”
  • Marcus Grignon with the Indigenous Think Tank in Keshena, Wisconsin was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Integrated Pest Management Research on Great Lakes Hemp Production.”
  • Michael Gutschenritter with Three Brothers Farm in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin was awarded $24,498 for the project, “Design and Build a Sliding Electric Fence System for Pastured Poultry.”
  • Scott Johnson with the Low Technology Institute in Evansville, Wisconsin was awarded $13,747 for the project, “Hot Box Compost: Modular Composting System that Heats, Waters, and Fertilizes Grow Bed for Off-Season Production.”
  • Lisa Kivirist with Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Browntown, Wisconsin was awarded $16,859 for the project, “Resources and  Recipes to Support Farmers to Diversify Income through Value-Added Bakery Product Sales.”
  • Frank Kutka with Z Mojego Ogrodu in Brussels, Wisconsin was awarded $27,000 for the project, “Developing Affordable Seed Corn for On-Farm Production and Sales.”
  • Christopher McGuire with Two Onion Farm in Belmont, Wisconsin was awarded $9,000 for the project, “Organic Control of Anthracnose Leaf Spot in Gooseberry.”
  • Gabe Olson-Jensen in River Falls, Wisconsin was awarded $8,945 for the project, “Implementing Organic practices in Modern Apple Growing.”
  • Shelly Rothman with Good Trouble Grove in Green Lake, Wisconsin was awarded $8,415 for the project, “Assessing the Potential of Aqweed Harvest as a Locally-produced Poultry Feed.”
  • Allysse Sorensen with The Munch Bunch in Saint Croix Falls, Wisconsin was awarded $8,910 for the project, “Testing Virtual Fence Technology in an Upper Midwestern Goat Grazing Operation.”
  • James Stute with Stute Farms in East Troy, Wisconsin was awarded $8,982 for the project, “Can T-banding Gypsum at Planting Prevent Soil Crusting and Improve Emergence in No-till Corn and Soybean?”
  • William VerVoort with the Oneida Nation in Oneida, Wisconsin was awarded $8,718 for the project, “The Oneida Composting Project.”
  • Lea Zeise with the United South and Eastern Tribes in Madison, Wisconsin was awarded $17,884 for the project, “Indigenous (Heirloom) Corn with Reduced Tillage and Cover Cropping Systems.”

Read descriptions of these projects online here.

The focus for each of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education. Funding considerations are based on how well the applicant presents the problem being addressed, the project’s relevance to sustainable agriculture in the 12-state North Central region, and how well it aligns with NCR-SARE’s goals, among other factors specific to each grant program.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. 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 nonprofits.

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.