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SARE awards 48 grants for sustainable ag projects

Grants are for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions through on-farm research.

April 29, 2019

7 Min Read
Field of ripe hops at sunset.
Field of ripe hops at sunset.JimSchemel/iStock/GettyImagesPlus

48 grant projects were selected to receive a total of more than $663,000 through the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education 2019 Farmer Rancher Grant Program.

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 include:


  • Keri Byrum of Cedar Falls Hops Co. in Cedar Falls, $8,821 for the project, “Evaluating Direct to Consumer Marketing of Midwest Grown Hops.”

  • Jim Frey of Jim Frey Fish Hatchery in West Union,  $9,000 for the project, “Development and Testing of a Drainable Floating Fish Tank for Fish Culture in Deep Water Bodies.”

  • Jan Libbey of One Step at a Time Gardens in Kanawha, $27,000 for the project, “Local Meal Kits: CSA Adaptation for Sustainability.”


  • Charles Martin of Willow Creek Farm in Oneida, $8,088 for the project, “Establishing a Perennial Living Mulch for Weed Control in Sweet Corn.”

  • Jeff Miller of Prairie Wind Family Farm in Grayslake, $7,859 for the project, “Moving Beyond Anecdotes: Making Data Driven Decisions to Adapt to Climate Change.”

  • Maggie Wachter of Second Nature Honey in Urbana, $26,370 for the project, “The Cultivation of Wild Yeast Strains to Add Value to Farmhouse Fermentation.”

  • Kevin Wolz of Midwest Agroforestry Solutions in Urbana, $8,940 for the project, “Enhancing Berry Farm Profitability through Perennial Alley Crops.”


  • Nick Carter of Mud Creek Farm in Indianapolis, $8,233 for the project, “Holistic Forestry, Vegetables, and Small Livestock Production that Eradicates Invasive Species and Exposes Consumers to Sustainable Agriculture.”

  • Kaitlin Hossom of Second Planet Farmstead in Nashville, $8,943 for the project, “A Comprehensive Exploration of Targeted Grazing with Goats.”

  • John Jamerson of Legacy Taste of the Garden in Princeton,  $26,827 for the project, “Legacy's United Farmers, Communities, and Urban Food Deserts.”

  • Lauren McCalister of Three Flock Farm in Ellettsville, $5,445 for the project, “No Waste Mushroom Cultivation: Viability Comparison of Spent Grain and Coffee Grounds for Small-scale and Urban farmers.”

  • Mikael Thompson of Thompson’s Prairie Honey in Greenfield, $7,965 for the project, “Varroa Mite and Small Hive Beetle Management: Single Brood Chamber Hive Versus Double Brood Chamber Hive.”


  • Pantaleon Florez of Maseualkualli Farms in Lawrence, $8,919 for the project, “Ancestral Mexica Farming: A Comparative Yield Analysis from the 1500s.”

  • James Leek of Pat & Rachel's Gardens in Olathe, $27,000 for the project, “Research, Create, and Market Allergy-Friendly Food for Institutions Using Local Vegetables, Fruit, Proteins, and Value-added Products to Increase Small Farm Sales.”


  • Melissa Boersema of Sklarczyk Seed Farm in Johannesburg, $27,000 for the project, “A Collaborative Research Project Evaluating Greensprouting as a Sustainable Pre-Planting Treatment for Seed Potato Minitubers Under Diverse Growing Conditions.”

  • Abby Johnson of Ox Heights in Rogers City, $8,649 for the project, “Testing Aged Manure for Enhanced Soil Health and Tree Establishment in a Pioneer Chestnut Orchard.”

  • Lance Kraai of New City Neighbors in Grand Rapids, $8,867 for the project, “Intercropping Systems For Small Scale Vegetable Production.”

  • Leah Sienkowski of Dreamgoats in Grand Rapids, $8,650 for the project, “Designing a Mobile Milking Parlor for a Multi-site Educational Goat Farm.”


  • Kano Banjaw of New Brighton, $8,930 for the project, “Expanded Production of Hanchotte (Coccinia abyssinica), a Tropical Root Crop Under the Midwest Climatic Conditions.”

  • Eric Dupuis of Dupuis Sugarbush in Cloquet, $9,000 for the project, “Sustaining the Sugar Bush in a Tribal Community to Educate, Reduce Fuel Usage and Increase Marketable Maple Sap Products.”

  • Rod Greder of Pine City, $25,383 for the project, “Mobile Unit to Facilitate More Intensive Rotational Grazing.”

  • Dana Jokela of Sogn Valley Farm in Cannon Falls, $8,947 for the project, “Expanding Cover Crop use Through Interseeding into Established Vegetable Plantings.”

  • Andrew Petran of Twin Cities Berry Company in Saint Paul, $8,998 for the project, “Effects of Non-Chemical Pest Control on the Profitability of Day-Neutral Strawberry Production in the Midwest.”

  • Kami Schoenfeld of Circle S Cattle and Lambs in Dawson, $11,340 for the project, “Grazing Sheep in an Upper Midwest Vineyard to Control Vegetation.”

  • Noreen Thomas of Doubting Thomas Farms in Moorhead, $26,978 for the project, “Malting Organic Oats, Heritage Wheats, and Heritage Barley.”


  • James Forbes of Good Life Growing in Saint Louis, $25,736 for the project, “North St. Louis Riverfront "GreenCubator".”

  • Linda Hezel of Prairie Birthday Farm in Kearney, $8,998 for the project, “Development of a Carbon Farming Plan through Assessment of Tree/Shrub Agroforestry Data for Increased Production, Resource Valuation, Carbon Sequestration and Related Ecosystem Benefits.”

  • Russ Kremer of Wildwood Farm in Bonnots Mill, $22,060 for the project, “Utilization of Highly Digestible Cover Crop Ensilage by Adult Swine In an Integrated Organic Farming System.”

  • Rachel Levi of EarthDance in Ferguson, $9,000 for the project, “Developing the Produce Efficacy Analysis and Recording (PEAR) Mobile Application.”

  • James Millsap of Millsap Farms in Springfield, $9,000 for the project, “Exploration And Demonstration of Low Pressure Steam For Disease and Weed Control on a Small Scale Vegetable Farm.”

  • Walton Sumner of Sumner's Farm in Webster Groves, $9,000 for the project, “Macro and Micronutrient Density in Staple Grains and Amaranth Grown on Conventionally Versus Sustainably Managed Silt Loam Soil.”

North Dakota

  • Benjamin Geaumont of Geaumont Farms in  Hettinger, $8,879 for the project, “Improving Plant Diversity in Non-diverse Grasslands on a Small Family Farm in Southwest North Dakota.”


  • Mark Brannen of Benson Bounty in Omaha, $2,965 for the project, “Planting a Profitable Pollinator Habitat with Native Nebraska Plants.”

  • Kris Vrooman of Jord Producers in Juniata, $27,000 for the project, “Understanding Effects of Mealworm Frass on Downy Mildew and Japanese Beetles in Hops Production.”


  • Sasha Miller of Purplebrown Farmstead in Hudson, $7,240 for the project, “Permaculture Pond Restoration.”

  • Lori Nethero of Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative in Bethel, $25,530 for the project, “Comparing the Effectiveness of Four Advertising Channels: The Case Study of a Young Rural Beef Cooperative.”

  • Nadia Ruffin of Quiwi Produce in Cincinnati, $9,000 for the project, “The use of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. as a Biological Control for Small Hive Beetles (Aethina tumida) and Wax Moths (Galleria mellonella and Achroia grisella) Inside Beehives.”

South Dakota

  • Shannon Mutschelknaus of Wayward Springs Acres in Aurora, $9,000 for the project, “High Efficiency Year-Round Tropical Greenhouse.”

  • Doug Pavel of Butte Vista Farm in Whitewood, $17,935 for the project, “The Evaluation of Integrated Weed Management Practices to Control Chicory Infestation in the Pastures and Hay Ground of Conventional and Organic Agricultural Operations.”

  • Michelle Tyon of Wiconi Waste Farm in Pine Ridge, $9,000 for the project, “Wiconi Waste Resistance Farm a Lakota Regenerative Agroforestry Permaculture Demonstration Farm.”


  • Galen Bergquist in Viroqua, $8,819 for the project, “Susceptibility of Cider Apple Varieties to Foliar-feeding Insects.”

  • David Danzinger of Danzinger Vineyards in Alma, $8,790 for the project, “Using Micro-Nutrients to Control Shattering of La Crescent Grapes (Cold-Climate).”

  • Tami Hallam of Scenic Valley Perch in Luxemburg, $26,993 for the project, “Developing a Production and Distribution Mechanism for Feed Trained Perch Fingerlings for Use in Aquaculture Grow-out Facilities.”

  • Edward Kaderly of Edward S. Kaderly Farm in Juda, $6,137 for the project, “Correlating Land Management to Soil Health, Water Quality, and Nutrition.”

  • Emily Martorano of Hazel Hill Farm in Avoca, $7,379 for the project, “Complete Guide to Lard Soapmaking for the Small Pork Producer.”

  • Christopher McGuire of Two Onion Farm in Belmont, $8,920 for the project, “Organic Control of Canada Thistle in Mulched Orchards.”

  • Matthew Raboin of Brix Cider in Barneveld, $27,000 for the project, “Expanding Markets for Lesser Known Perennial Crops Through the Craft Beverage Industry.”

  • Lauren Rudersdorf of Raleigh's Hillside Farm in Brodhead, $26,185 for the project, “Should I Start a CSA Farm?: An Educational Video Series for Current & Aspiring CSA Farmers.”

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 members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. The council 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.

The SARE program, part of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.

Source: North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

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