From the Field Profiles

Short profiles of SARE-funded research and education projects in action.

Aspiring Farmers Connect with Youth Garden Program

Integrating agriculture into urban settings is not a new concept, but more and more, the benefits are being realized by communities, policymakers, and food-system entrepreneurs (NCAT-ATTRA 2018).  One such entrepreneur is Brent Lubbert, whose nonprofit organization is growing vegetables and future farmers on six plots of land in the Gifford Park Neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska. […]

Native Plants Attract Beneficial Insects

Whether building boxes for mason bees or planting habitat for predatory beetles, farmers seeking sustainability can encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on the farm.  Researcher Doug Landis knows that many native plant species are highly attractive to both pollinators and natural enemies, and with help from a $199,887 NCR-SARE Research and Education grant, […]

Sprinkler Deterrent System Helps Farmer Control Wildlife

Enhancing biodiversity on a farm can result in cleaner air and water and increased wildlife. But what happens when the wildlife gets a little too close to your crop? That’s the problem sweet corn grower, Scott Kelly, was facing on his farm near Kearney, Missouri. “The demands of growing produce sometimes seems never-ending,” said Kelly. […]

An Open-Source, Automated Irrigation System for Small Farms

Christian and Katie Flickinger were experienced urban farmers in Michigan who were farming eight plots in various locations. When they decided to consolidate their operation and buy a 7-acre farm in Howell, Michigan, they faced the challenge of converting a long-standing, non-rotated cornfield into the organic, heirloom farm of their dreams. Among the other items […]

Soil Remediation Techniques in Urban Agriculture

When we think of soil health, concepts like soil structure and water and nutrient holding capacity come to mind. For urban farmers managing contaminants such as lead and arsenic is another major soil health concern. Dirty Boots Flowers is an urban flower farm that shares a small parcel of land with two other farms in […]

Controlling Pigweed with Minimal Tillage in Fall Vegetable Crops

Managing and controlling weeds is an ongoing challenge and frustration for many farmers, but it can be especially cumbersome for organic producers, whose options for herbicides are limited. For these organic producers, no-till and conservation tillage systems can help conserve soil and can be used for weed control. Tom Buller, a vegetable grower and extension […]

Farm Towers: Urban Agriculture Goes Vertical

In southeast Nebraska where corn and livestock fields dominate the agricultural landscape, Auburn High School agriculture teacher, Ashton Bohling, offers a variety of agricultural education opportunities for curious youth. Students have access to an aquaponics system (an aquaculture system with tilapia) and a 24×48’ greenhouse. With support from a $1,999 NCR-SARE Youth Educator grant, Bohling […]

Scaling Up Specialty Dairy in Ohio’s Appalachian Region

The beautiful vistas of Ohio’s Appalachian region delight visitors with ancient forested foothills, winding creeks, and unglaciated terrain. In the late 19th century, extraction industries like the coal industry also discovered value in this landscape, but as coal resources declined, local economies deteriorated. Today, scaling up local foods is one way these historic communities are […]

Spring-Grazing Cover Crops with Nebraska’s Knuth Farms

When a fourth-generation farm in Mead, Nebraska began to diversify their primarily cash crop operation in 2012, they gave some thought to cover crops and livestock. Knuth Farms didn’t want to buy cattle or become beef producers, but they did want to diversify their income stream, capture some of the soil benefits of cover crops, […]

Developing a Woman and Farmer-Led Meat Processing Cooperative

Wisconsin needs more butchers. That’s what April Prusia, Betty Anderson, and Bethany Emond Storms determined during their farmer-led research project in 2017. The three livestock producers raise beef, pork, poultry, and goats in south central Wisconsin. While they all have big dreams of charcuterie plates made with their meat, they lack processing options in the […]

Paving the Way for Shared-Use Kitchens

New cottage food laws are making it easier for producers to can, freeze, bake, and pickle their raw agricultural products at home and sell them directly to their customers. While they might fit under regulations, home kitchens might not be a good fit for everyone, and some producers want to expand without investing in their […]

Traditional Fertilizer, Modern Applications for Iroquois White Corn

Farmers have long relied on liquid fish fertilizers because they are a source burn-free nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Traditional Native American growers were well aware of the benefits that decaying fish could bring to their soil; they buried fish under mounded soil and planted the 3 Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) directly on top of […]

Immigrant and Minority Farmers Inspire Soil Health Collaboration

When Julie Grossman was an undergraduate, she had no idea that a single economic development course was going to change the trajectory of her life’s work. In that course, and during her international PhD research in Latin America, she learned how biology, and specifically agroecology, could be used to help grow food in regions of […]

Building Resilience and Flexibility into Midwest Organic Potato Production

When Maria Carter’s parents emigrated to America from the Netherlands in 1956, they brought along a knowledge of growing seed potatoes. Shortly after they put down roots in North Dakota, they put down tubers to start their new seed potato farm. They knew potato growers needed healthy seed potatoes, and they knew how to grow […]

Ohio Farmer Develops Mobile Hops Dryer

In a state that boasts 300 craft breweries, David Volkman is one of many craft beer enthusiasts in Ohio. But Volkman, with 12 acres of land in Warren County, is not only supporting Ohio’s craft brewing industry through consumption; he’s also contributing to its production. In 2012, he and his wife, Nina, started transitioning some […]

The American Kestrel: an IPM Friend for Michigan’s Fruit Growers

Cherry producers across the region are all too familiar with starlings, finches, voles, pocket gophers, and other animals that can wreak havoc on a cherry orchard by feeding on ripening fruit and developing roots or shoots. These little pests can be a big problem for Michigan’s cherry growers, who grow 75 percent of all tart cherries and 20 percent of sweet cherries in […]

Youth Hit the Road to Learn about Sustainable Livestock Production in Wisconsin

Jessie Oberlin is no stranger to the 4-H’ers in Jackson County, Wisconsin. Whether she’s providing coaching for the 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, setting up livestock production tours, or prepping youth for the 4-H Quiz Bowl, Oberlin has spent most of her adult life introducing rural young people to new livestock opportunities in a county known for cranberry and strawberry production. Oberlin grew up showing […]

Latino Producers Explore Sustainable Practices in Missouri

When Eleazar Gonzalez was a child, raising crops and making cheese on his family’s small farm in Mexico, he often pondered the career he would pursue. At the age of fifteen, he received a scholarship that allowed him to study high school agriculture and eventually pursue a bachelor’s degree in agronomy. This pivotal time allowed Gonzalez to start working with programs that […]

Does Open-Pollinated Corn Have a Place on Today’s Organic Farm?

On 205 acres near the picturesque bluffs of the On 205 acres near the picturesque bluffs of the Mississippi River, Stanley Smith raises beef cows and grows organic corn in southeastern Minnesota. He grew up on this small farm in the rolling hills of Winona County, and worked in partnership with his dad until his dad retired. Smith and his wife, Vickie, […]

Iowa Farmers Seek Sustainability with Cover Crops and No-Till

In 2002, a $6,500 SARE grant funded an idea for a new tool at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The tool was a roller-crimper, a steel drum with blades that was mounted to a tractor and used to roll down cover crops. The idea was that the mat of dead cover crops would act as mulch, which researchers hoped no-till farmers […]