NCR-SARE's 2023 Farmer Rancher Grants

May 18, 2023
Millsap Farms is a 20-acre diversified farm near Springfield, Missouri. They grow flowers and vegetables annually, with 25,000 sq. feet under plastic. With support from a 2019 SARE grant, they worked to reduce Chickweed and Sclerotinia in their high tunnels with a soil steamer. With their 2023 SARE grant, they will compare the efficiency and effectiveness of using portable, high-efficiency propane heaters, coupled with poly ductwork, to maintain the minimum temperature in their tunnels. 

NCR-SARE is pleased to announce the 41 Farmer Rancher Grant projects recommended for funding for 2023. More than $720,000 was awarded through this competitive grant 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):

  • Andrew Getting with Getting Farms in Sanborn, IA, was awarded $29,968 for the project, “Interseeding Cover Crops and Grazing Cattle to Improve Soil Health, Water Infiltration, and Profitability Within an Organic Transition.”
  • Travis Hurt with North Sky Farm in Harvard, IL, was awarded $15,000 for the project, “Getting Big Milk Out of Small Dairy: A Milking Parlor Construction Guide For Herdshares, Creameries and Those Bootstrapping on Rented Land.”
  • Matthew Norris with OTIS Fresh Farm in Chicago, IL, was awarded $7,522 for the project, “Growing a Profitable Urban Farming Cooperative in a Low-Income Neighborhood.”
  • Jonathan Elrod with Rusted Flatbed Farm in Indianapolis, IN, was awarded $14,808 for the project, “Advancing Black Walnut Syrup Production Through Research and Report on Optimal Tapping Practices and Promotion of Findings at a Field Day.”
  • Glenda George with Baby Greens Family Farm in Merrillville, IN, was awarded $30,000 for the project, “Utilizing Microscopic Testing Protocols to Analyze Our Soil and Compost to Make the Correct Actions to Improve Our Soil Quality.”
  • Robert Brooks with META in Lawrence, KS, was awarded $12,860 for the project, “Creating a Sustainable Honey Bee Depository from Urban to Rural Settings.”
  • Jacob Chapman with Moose Paw Farm in Spring Hill, KS, was awarded $14,515 for the project, “Integrating Intensive Mushroom and Vegetable Production with a Closed-Loop Indoor Growing System.”
  • Allen Stovall with AJ Honey Farms in Salina, KS, was awarded $14,152 for the project, “Using Sainfoin and Silflower to Improve Beehive Health and Productivity in Kansas.”
  • Eleanor Hucker with Great Lakes Staple Seeds in Ortonville, MI, was awarded $14,852 for the project, “Predictive Yields for Small-Scale Staple Crop Production in the North Central States Using Common Homestead Equipment and Minimal Inputs.”
  • jøn kent with Sanctuary Farms in Detroit, MI, was awarded $28,870 for the project, “Water Consortium: Researching and Edifying Water Catchment/Conservation Best Practices for Urban Farmers in Detroit.”
  • Tristen Schultz with McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm in Montague, MI, was awarded $3,878 for the project, “Incorporating Mushroom Production into an Urban, Outdoor, No-Till, Organic Farm on Existing Productive Space.”
  • Phillip Swartz with in Kalamazoo, MI, was awarded $17,965 for the project, “Developing a Cover Cropping and No-Till Planting System for Small Scale Vegetable Farms Using the Two-Wheeled BCS (Walk-Behind) Tractor.”
  • Arlo Cristofaro-Hark with Cannon Valley Graziers in Northfield, MN, was awarded $29,875 for the project, “Using No-Fence Technology to Integrate Livestock Into Vegetable Production.”
  • Naima Dhore in Alexandria, MN, was awarded $15,000 for the project, “Scaling Up Food-Grade Millet Production for Minnesota's East Africans.”
  • Sandra Dietz with Whitewater Gardens Farm in Altura, MN, was awarded $14,867 for the project, “Optimizing No-Till Methods for a Direct-to-Market Organic Vegetable Farm.”
  • Sarah Mayer with Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, MN, was awarded $29,905 for the project, “Developing a Farm Apprenticeship in Northeast Minnesota.”
  • Zachary Paige with North Circle Seeds in Vergas, MN, was awarded $29,920 for the project, “Increasing Capacity for Latino Farmers' Seed and Food Production with Culturally Important Crops.”
  • Weston Adams in Ava, MO, was awarded $14,989 for the project, “Breeding a Cold-Hardy, Non-Astringent Hybrid Persimmon Cultivar.”
  • Gladys Davis with Cultivating Bliss Farm in Saint Louis, MO, was awarded $14,995 for the project, “Morel Mushroom Cultivation in an Urban Setting.”
  • Katie Houck with Urban Harvest STL in Saint Louis, MO, was awarded $15,000 for the project, “Farming for Community Apprenticeship and Urban Growers Education and Training Program.”
  • James (Curtis) Millsap with Millsap Farms in Springfield, MO, was awarded $29,784 for the project, “Investigating Best Practices for Efficient Minimal Heating of High Tunnels with Modular Heaters and Row Covers.”
  • Chad Montgomery with Cedar Meadow Farms in Greentop, MO, was awarded $9,979 for the project, “Economically Viable Method of Raising Surplus Saanen Dairy Goat Billies as Meat Goats by Using Them as Brush Goats.”
  • Trisha Nieder with Nieder Farms in Washington, MO, was awarded $14,874 for the project, “Regenerate a Fifth Generation Farm for Sustainability and Profitability While Revitalizing an Aging Farming Community.”
  • Thomas Ruggieri with Fair Share Farm in Kearney, MO, was awarded $14,965 for the project, “Pilot Testing of Raw Elderberry Vinegar Production Feasibility for Small Farms.”
  • Nick Speed with Ujima in Saint Louis, MO, was awarded $15,000 for the project, “George Washington Carver Farms will Transform Former Vacant Lots into a Beautiful Green Landscape that Creates Space for Agriculture and Education.”
  • Walton Sumner with Sumner's Farm in Webster Groves, MO, was awarded $28,813 for the project, “Fashioning Amendments and Seeding Techniques to Rebuild Essential Genera of Endophytes and other soil Nutrient Mobilizers (FAST REGEN).”
  • Emily Wright with Three Creeks Farm and Forest in Ashland, MO, was awarded $20,840 for the project, “Native Floral and Culinary Perennials: A Guide for Specialty Crop Production, Agroforestry Systems, and Diverse Landscapes.”
  • Glendon Philbrick with Hiddendale Farm in Turtle Lake, ND, was awarded $6,968 for the project, “Brix Levels For Grasshopper Control.”
  • Aaron French with City Sprouts in Omaha, NE, was awarded $14,690 for the project, “Demonstrating the Feasibility of Producing Culturally Preferred Vegetable Crops in Underrepresented Urban Areas.”
  • Malaina Schlautman in Henderson, NE, was awarded $7,655 for the project, “Feeding Kernza® Screenings to Broiler Chickens.”
  • Justina Block with Osmia Bee Company in Cincinnati, OH, was awarded $28,954 for the project, “Developing a Regional Spring Flowering Seed Mix to Support North Central Mason Bees.”
  • Zachary Dobbelaer with Charlie's Apples in Newark, OH, was awarded $8,280 for the project, “Investigating Viable Management Strategies of Marssonina Leaf Blotch in Organic Apple Production in Central Ohio.”
  • Michelle Nowak with Franklinton Farms in Columbus, OH, was awarded $8,781 for the project, “How can Midwestern Growers Make the Most of Winter High Tunnel Real Estate for Winter Salad Mixes?”
  • David Bohnhoff with Happy Roots Farm in Plymouth, WI, was awarded $30,000 for the project, “Pull-Type Hazelnut Combine Development.”
  • Robert Braun with Pigeon River Farm in Clintonville, WI, was awarded $14,957 for the project, “Hybrid Electric Tractor Energy-Saving Configuration Conversion.”
  • Ryan Heinen with Gwenyn Hill Farm in Waukesha, WI, was awarded $8,730 for the project, “Grazing Planted Prairie in WI: Pollinator and Pasture Value.”
  • Adam Hurtgen with Hurtgenlea Ltd. in Elkhorn, WI, was awarded $14,355 for the project, “Evaluating a Single-Pass Alfalfa-Corn Silage Intercrop to Enhance Forage Production, Profitability, and Soil and Water Health.”
  • Chris Kearns with Cannivera in West Bend, WI, was awarded $14,956 for the project, “Sustainable Biofungicide for Organic Farms.”
  • Winona LaDuke with Winonas Hemp in LaPointe, WI, was awarded $30,000 for the project, “Mooningwanekaaning Food Sovereignty and Traditional Agriculture Grant.”
  • Riley Sowle with Oconto Riviera in Oconto, WI, was awarded $14,999 for the project, “Comparing Strategies and Evaluating the Economics of Alternative, Non-Conventional Approaches to Small-Scale Pumpkin Growing in the Midwest.”
  • Mitchel Wayne with Wayne Honey Farm in River Falls, WI, was awarded $15,000 for the project, “Queen Production Viability to Generate Honeybee Nucleus Colonies for Overwintering Success in the Midwest.”  

Read descriptions of these projects online at    

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, ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, federal agencies, and nonprofits. 

Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially responsible 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 bring sustainable innovations to agricultural systems.

Related Locations: North Central