Minnesota 2019-20 SARE State Plan of Work

Final report for NCMN19-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
State Coordinators:
Kate Seager
Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
Co-Coordinators:
Wayne Martin
University of Minnesota
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

Minnesota’s sustainable agriculture proposed Plan of Work (POW) addresses our state’s diversity of human and natural resources, and engages both rural and urban communities in the work of providing safe, healthy food and water for all Minnesotans. 

Minnesota has a long history of activity in sustainable agriculture on many fronts, from farmers, University of Minnesota research and extension, state, federal and nonprofit partners. In Minnesota, because of an abundance of organizations and activities, the challenge is to stay informed of current work being done by our many partners in sustainable agriculture. 

In 2019 and 2020 we will focus Minnesota SARE PDP resources on four initiatives: 1) Beginning farmers and ranchers 2) Local Food Systems; 3) Sustainable adaptations for: soil health, water quality, and climate 4) Sustainable Livestock Systems. We will continue to solicit mini-grants to develop tours, field days, and workshops on the different aspects of the major initiatives. We will also continue to identify training opportunities and encourage travel scholarships in the Initiative areas. 

“Face of SARE” work will also continue. SARE grants will be publicized on sustainable agriculture listservs and on appropriate Extension listservs, and we will continue to work closely with grant applicants, connecting them to people and other resources. We will meet with newly hired Extension Educators to make them aware of SARE opportunities. We will continue to work to increase the number of grant applicants from underserved communities and will attend meetings and conferences targeting these groups. SARE information will be distributed at conferences and educational events throughout the state, and we will write newsletter articles about SARE grant results. 

Project Objectives:

Professional Development Initiatives: 

Initiative 1: Beginning farmers and ranchers 

In order to participate in the NCR-SARE regional initiative for 2019-20, one of our initiative focus areas will be on “beginning farmers and ranchers.” We will plan to send several representatives of our state to a regional professional development event organized by NCR-SARE on beginning farmers and ranchers, to be offered during calendar year 2019. Educators who are given support from our state SARE funds to travel to this regional training will be asked to come back to our state and in some fashion, provide educational programming to other educators and/or beginning farmers and ranchers. This can include workshops, study tours, webinars, or other educational programming. During the two-year plan of work period, we will also offer additional SARE-funded travel scholarships, and where appropriate, mini-grant support to further educational programming than increases the sustainability and success of beginning farmers and ranchers. 

Initiative 2: Local Food Systems 

This initiative includes such categories as building small and beginning farms, urban agriculture, as well as distribution and processing issues. Much of this is supporting the many organizations and individuals already contributing to local foods efforts in Minnesota. We plan to work with educators in multiple regions in Minnesota on a mini-grant on expanding access to local food in those regions. We will also work closely with the SARE grant recipients in MN on their projects; helping to link them to Extension and NRCS staff working on these topics. We anticipate that at least 75 farm advisor and farmer-educators will participate in these state programs during the time of this initiative, and additional individuals will be reached through webinars or other web-based distribution of information We plan to send educators and farmer-educators to the following local and regional events in 2019 and 2020: MN Organic Conference, MOSES conference, Sustainable Farming Conference, Immigrant and Minority Farming Conference as well as outreach events at the U of MN Research and Outreach Centers. We expect that 75 % of educators attending these events using SARE PDP professional developments funds will return to offer programming or distribute information to other educators and farmers on issues related to local food. In addition, we expect that 75% of these educators increase their awareness and knowledge of local food system issues via attendance at mini-grant events, 50% of educators develop new programming to train fellow educators in an aspect of local food systems; 75% of educators incorporate information they acquired from mini-grant program on local food systems into programming. We will use NCR-SARE PDP mini-grant post event surveys and travel grant post event surveys to evaluate the outcomes.

Initiative 3: Sustainable adaptations for: soil health, water quality, and climate 

Our advisory committee is working to identify appropriate conferences for 2019 and 2020 that will provide professional development opportunities for educators. We typically identify 5-7 events both locally and regionally. We’ll partner with educators working on the Forever Green Initiative at the U of MN as well as the Green Lands Blue Waters program. Based on these professional development experiences, we expect the educators we have sponsored to come back and offer training events and programs for other farm advisors and producers in our state during the 2019-2020 time frame. We anticipate that at least 40 farm advisor and farmer-educators will participate in these state programs during the time of the regional initiative, and additional individuals will be reached through webinars or other web-based distribution of information. For outcomes we expect that at least 75% of the individuals trained will distribute information on soil health management practices, including those pertaining to water quality/quantity issues, and that at least 50% of the producers impacted will adopt one or more practices to improve their soil health management. We will use NCR-SARE PDP mini-grant post event surveys and travel grant post event surveys to evaluate the outcomes. 

Initiative 4: Sustainable Livestock Systems 

Minnesota continues to be a major livestock producer, ranking #1 in turkeys, #3 in pigs, and with large numbers of cattle, mainly consisting of cow-calf herds. Most of the turkeys and pigs are raised in large scale confinement systems, but there is greater interest now than in the past, in exploring alternative methods of production. Farmers are raising poultry (broilers, layers, and turkeys) on pasture, heritage breeds of pigs used for charcuterie, other pig breeds for larger commercial operations, wool sheep for the garment industry, and meat and dairy goats for the newer immigrant communities that favor goat products. Our intent is to encourage the community of producers engaging in alternative livestock production and marketing to apply for SARE grants, in order to answer questions they may have about how to improve profitability, production efficiency, or marketing acumen. We will work with UMN Extension Educators, Campus Faculty, and NRCS and DNR Specialists to create a greater awareness how sustainable livestock systems can benefit farmers of all production sizes. We’ll attend all of the major conferences, workshops and field days to let participants know about SARE grants and resources as well as how to apply for SARE funds. We plan to send educators and farmer-educators to the local and regional events in 2019 and 2020 focusing on sustainable livestock systems. We anticipate that at least 50 farm advisor and farmer-educators will participate in these state programs during the time of this initiative, and additional individuals will be reached through webinars or other web-based distribution of information. We expect that 75 % of educators attending these events using SARE PDP professional developments funds will return to offer programming or distribute information to other educators and farmers on issues related to sustainable livestock systems. In addition, we expect that 75% of these educators increase their awareness and knowledge of sustainable livestock systems via attendance at mini-grant events, 50% of educators develop new programming to train fellow educators in an aspect of sustainable livestock systems; 75% of educators incorporate information they acquired from mini-grant program on sustainable livestock systems into programming. We will use NCR-SARE PDP mini-grant post event surveys and travel grant post event surveys to evaluate the outcomes.

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Jane Jewett
  • Kathy Zeman
  • Liz Stahl
  • Valerie Gamble
  • Tim Arlt
  • Margaret Wagner
  • Greg Schweser
  • Cassie Dahl
  • Michelle Dobrowski
  • Molly Schaus

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Sustainable adaptations for pollinators, pests and climate
Objective:

Provide opportunities for educators to expand their knowledge and programming in sustainable agriculture around the issues of adaptations for pollinators, pests and climates. Opportunities include: minigrants, travel scholarships and sponsorship of local events related to sustainable agriculture.

Description:

Our advisory committee is working to identify appropriate conferences for 2019 and 2020 that will provide professional development opportunities for educators. We typically identify 5-7 events both locally and regionally. We’ll partner with educators working on the Forever Green Initiative at the U of MN as well as the Green Lands Blue Waters program. Based on these professional development experiences, we expect the educators we have sponsored to come back and offer training events and programs for other farm advisors and producers in our state during the 2019-2020 time frame. We anticipate that at least 40 farm advisor and farmer-educators will participate in these state programs during the time of the regional initiative, and additional individuals will be reached through webinars or other web-based distribution of information. For outcomes we expect that at least 75% of the individuals trained will distribute information on soil health management practices, including those pertaining to water quality/quantity issues, and that at least 50% of the producers impacted will adopt one or more practices to improve their soil health management. We will use NCR-SARE PDP mini-grant post event surveys and travel grant post event surveys to evaluate the outcomes.

Events related to this initiative:

2019: 2 travel scholarships were awarded for travel to support professional development

Two Extension Educators attended an agroforestry conference

2020: Due to COVID 19 no travel scholarships were awarded. Shifted funds to 2021

4 minigrants were awarded to provide professional development

  • Soil Health Testing: Myths and Realities (2019)
  • Winter Camelina Field Day (2019)
  • Friday Soil Health Discussions (2020)
  • Virtual Field Day Highlighting Planting Green and Weed Management Impacts with Cover Crops in MN (2020)
Outcomes and impacts:

Learning outcomes from travel scholarships:

100% said they will use information to answer client questions
50 % said they will develop new programming
100% said they will incorporate new ideas and information into regular programming
100% develop new contacts and partners for work
100% use in newsletters and/or newspaper articles/radio shows

Learning outcomes from minigrant:

Soil Health Testing: Myths and Realities (2019): We will have a multi-pronged approach to reach an audience outside those that attend the in-person workshops. Lectures will be recorded and posted on YouTube. Podcasts will also be recorded with some of the speakers at the event, with in-depth discussion regarding soil health testing and experimental results. These digital means will be key in exposing a larger community to what is an important but often neglected aspect of soil health. Ideally, our goal is for local and regional decision makers to have a better understanding of the limitations and capabilities of soil health testing. More long term, we hope to see soil tests that are discussed in NRCS Technical Note SH-XX available to the public without going to a specialized, academic laboratory. As of yet, no University of Minnesota or nearby extension services have published materials comparing the strengths and weaknesses of commonly accessible soil health tests. One goal of the workshop is to produce a handout or web site posting that can serve as a reference for crop advisers, farmers, and agency staff to use in the course of their duties.

Winter Camelina Field Day (2019): The intent is to expose educators to the full range of winter camelina research, production and market potential. As this is a new crop, attendees will want to know not only best production practices, but many will want to understand potential end uses and market opportunities. Helping the supply chain stakeholders to understand that information now will help them understand where their expertise might benefit and how they can access the research and information they need to continue to move this crop toward widespread adoption. The audience will learn more about the benefits of winter camelina for protecting soil and water as well as how the crop will provide economic benefits to growers, Attendees will understand where the research currently stands, timelines for future development and how they can access future information. Attendees will also understand the potential food, fuel and feed end uses for winter camelina and what investments will be necessary for future market development.

Friday Soil Health Discussions (2020)

Farmer Fridays will be virtual field days with the opportunity for attendee participation. The principles of soil health are understood by most ag professionals and farmers but how exactly to implement those principles is not clear. This will provide opportunities to share this information from several operations successfully implementing soil health practices to increase understanding of implementation and build the community of farmers, ag professionals, and agronomists. The target audience will increase their understanding of different tools of implementing soil health practices. This allows for farmers to learn from other's mistakes and focus on activities that have a proven track record. This allows ag professionals to better understand the implementation opportunities and provide improved recommendations. Additional networks will also be realized by the variety of participating entities to build the community of soil health in Minnesota. Participants will be documented and provided with a follow up survey to determine if they have learned new knowledge, how likely they are to use the information they received, if they made new connections, and if the format of the program was beneficial to them.

Virtual Field Day Highlighting Planting Green and Weed Management Impacts with Cover Crops in MN (2020)

Although there is much interest in the potential for cover crops to provide weed control benefits, very little research has been done on this in MN. Research from more southern climates and organic systems shows that cover crop biomass production correlates to potential weed control benefits. Greater cover crop biomass can also yield greater soil health benefits. Farmers and ag professionals have been exploring “planting green” to maximize biomass production of an overwintering cover crop. This practice, however, carries greater risk (e.g. risk of educed cash crop yield, increased disease and insect pressure) than earlier termination. In a research trial, we will demonstrate and compare planting green (terminate at planting) to the “standard” recommendation (terminate ~10-14 days prior to planting), and late termination (~7 days after planting). Due to COVID-19 concerns, we will collect videos and photos of the trial for a “virtual” field day highlighting cover crops and weed management impacts, and develop resources (videos, webinars, posters, articles) to disseminate online and in-person (when possible again). This will help farmers and their advisors evaluate risk in decision-making with cover crops. If feasible and allowed, we may host an in-person field day as well. The intended audience includes ag professionals (includes coop agronomists, crop advisors, consultants, crop insurance adjusters, seed dealers), educators, and agency personnel – anyone working with farmers. Farmers are also welcome to attend. The audience is likely familiar with planting green (some may be trying it) and has heard about the potential for cover crops to aid in weed management, but existing information is anecdotal or from other states with longer growing seasons, different growing conditions, different cropping systems, and/or different key weed issues. We will host a “virtual field day” (webinar) highlighting the cover crop termination timing trial and the MDA weed management trial. Attendees will be able to participate live and ask questions/provide feedback through this venue. The webinar/videos will be posted on the UMN Extension Crops website for later viewing. I will also disseminate the information through posters (to be presented at the annual Crop Pest Management Short Course and the Soil Health Summit), a MN Crop News article (posted online and disseminated to statewide media and local listservs) and through radio outlets. Through these outreach activities, farmers and ag professionals will be able to access the information, learn about these practices, provide feedback to us, and help assess what fits best in an individual operation. We may include a live field day, but are very hesitant (may not even be possible) due to COVID-19 concerns. This project will help disseminate research-based information to educators/crop advisors and farmers, in order that they can better make educated decisions in cover crop management. The information provided will help address concerns farmers have about cover crops, develop effective weed management programs when planting cover crops, and hopefully encourage more farmers to incorporate cover crops into their system, while helping current users optimize the value cover crops can provide. 

 

Local Food Systems
Objective:

Provide opportunities for educators to expand their knowledge and programming in sustainable agriculture around the issues of supporting a strong local food system in Minnesota. Opportunities include: minigrants, travel scholarships and sponsorship of local events related to sustainable agriculture.

Description:

This initiative includes such categories as building small and beginning farms, urban agriculture, as well as distribution and processing issues. Much of this is supporting the many organizations and individuals already contributing to local foods efforts in Minnesota. We plan to work with educators in multiple regions in Minnesota on a mini-grant on expanding access to local food in those regions. We will also work closely with the SARE grant recipients in MN on their projects; helping to link them to Extension and NRCS staff working on these topics. We anticipate that at least 75 farm advisor and farmer-educators will participate in these state programs during the time of this initiative, and additional individuals will be reached through webinars or other web-based distribution of information We plan to send educators and farmer-educators to the following local and regional events in 2019 and 2020: MN Organic Conference, MOSES conference, Sustainable Farming Conference, Immigrant and Minority Farming Conference as well as outreach events at the U of MN Research and Outreach Centers. We expect that 75 % of educators attending these events using SARE PDP professional developments funds will return to offer programming or distribute information to other educators and farmers on issues related to local food. In addition, we expect that 75% of these educators increase their awareness and knowledge of local food system issues via attendance at mini-grant events, 50% of educators develop new programming to train fellow educators in an aspect of local food systems; 75% of educators incorporate information they acquired from mini-grant program on local food systems into programming. We will use NCR-SARE PDP mini-grant post event surveys and travel grant post event surveys to evaluate the outcomes.

Events and activities related to this initiative included:

2019: 2 Travel scholarships were awarded to support professional development

A farmer/local educator attended a regional local food conference
A NGO/educator attended the Indigenous Farming Conference

2020: No travel scholarships were awarded due to COVID 19. Funds were shifted to 2021

4 minigrants were funded to provide professional development

  • Marketing for Small Farmers (2019)
  • Expanding Niche Markets for Midwestern Hop Producers (2019)
  • Gichi Manidoo Giizis Pow Wow (2019)
  • Hosting a Produce Safety Alliance Train-the-Trainer in Spanish (2020)

Get online training: Provided one one one trainings to farmers who needed to move their sales online due to COVID 19.

1994 Tribal College Food Sovereignty: Worked with representatives from the tribal colleges in Minnesota to submit a small grant application to work on food sovereignty issues. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Learning outcomes from travel scholarships:

100% said they will use information to answer client questions
75% said they will develop new programming
100% said they will incorporate new ideas and information into regular programming
50% develop new contacts and partners for work
75% use in newsletters and/or newspaper articles/radio shows

Learning outcomes from minigrant:

Gichi Manidoo Giizis Pow Wow 2019: We will be hosting a Native Nutrition Workshop in 2019. This conference will highlights topics on sustainable agriculture, strengthening local food systems, and the history of food systems of the tribes. This conference will offer information on USDA programs, Tribal College University Extension, Tribal Health and Nutrition Initiatives to help build networks and capacity for the tribal producers and outside agencies. An expected outcome is to encourage healthy eating habits for 1000+ participants by sharing information on nutrition, recipes, and exercise. We will be having a sign up for people interested in the Native Nutrition Workshop to measure the interest in others to learn more about local food systems.

Expanding Niche Markets for Midwestern Hop Producers: This project will provide formal educational resources within the context of a two-day workshop co-sponsored by University of Minnesota Extension. These resources will also be summarized within a newsletter format that will delivered to growers following attendance at this workshop. This will also allow growers to confidently speak to their consumers regarding their on-farm practices and their influence on the end product. This will also serve as a networking opportunity between growers and brewers, and facilitate communication with experts on topics of importance to each group. Following participation in this two-day workshop, each party will be able to accurately identify the current state of research surrounding the influence of certain practices that affect hop quality and sensory characteristics, communicate with brewers using the same descriptive language commonly used in the brewing industry, and current research being performed at the University. Audience members will be able to implement these practices and knowledge to increase their profitability.

Marketing for Small Farmers: This program will be a combination of formal and informal professional development. The majority of the day will include learning from industry professionals and other local foods producers how to succeed in a local foods market. During lunch and breaks the participants will have the opportunity to network with other local foods producers and learn from each other’s experiences. Small farmers and local foods producers will gain knowledge and understanding in how to direct market to new clients such as restaurants, grocery stores, and whole sale markets.

Hosting a Produce Safety Alliance Train-the-Trainer in Spanish (2020)

This project is on hold due to COVID-19.

The MN Department of Agriculture (MDA) Produce Safety Program proposes to host a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Train-the-Trainer (TTT) course in Spanish, over two days in April. Attendees will be certified to assist in teaching the PSA’s standardized curriculum. This curriculum trains produce growers to meet the regulatory requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

No public Spanish-language PSA TTT has been held in the U.S. to-date, while English-language PSA TTTs have been held widely. In MN we have established a team of trainers that includes MDA and UMN Extension staff, along with English-speaking farmer trainers. Together, we have offered the PSA curriculum on single-day trainings around the state. These are known as “Produce Safety Rule Grower Trainings.”

Our trainings have included two Spanish-language Produce Safety Rule Grower Trainings. Our Spanish-language training team relies heavily on staff from out-of-state and does not include farmer trainers, however, as individuals who solely or primarily speak Spanish have not been able to attend the necessary TTT course. By hosting a Spanish-language TTT in MN that is open to a national audience we will build Spanish-language training capacity in MN as well as around the country.

 

Beginning farmers and ranchers
Objective:

Provide opportunities for educators to expand their knowledge and programming in sustainable agriculture around the issues facing beginning farmers and rancers. Opportunities include: minigrants, travel scholarships and sponsorship of local events related to sustainable agriculture.

Description:

In order to participate in the NCR-SARE regional initiative for 2019-20, one of our initiative focus areas will be on “beginning farmers and ranchers.” We will plan to send several representatives of our state to a regional professional development event organized by NCR-SARE on beginning farmers and ranchers, to be offered during calendar year 2019. Educators who are given support from our state SARE funds to travel to this regional training will be asked to come back to our state and in some fashion, provide educational programming to other educators and/or beginning farmers and ranchers. This can include workshops, study tours, webinars, or other educational programming. During the two-year plan of work period, we will also offer additional SARE-funded travel scholarships, and where appropriate, mini-grant support to further educational programming than increases the sustainability and success of beginning farmers and ranchers.

Events and activities related to this initiative included:

5 travel scholarship to support professional development to attend the SARE sponsored Beginning Farmer/Rancher conference.

10 farmer scholarships to attend the National Farm Viability Conference

Outcomes and impacts:

Outcomes and impacts:

Learning outcomes from travel scholarships:

100% said they will use information to answer client questions
50 % said they will develop new programming
100% said they will incorporate new ideas and information into regular programming
100% develop new contacts and partners for work
100% use in newsletters and/or newspaper articles/radio shows

Learning outcomes from minigrants

No minigrants awarded in 2019; we anticipate attendees from the SARE conference will request minigrant funds for programming in 2020.

Sustainable Livestock Systems
Objective:

Provide opportunities for educators to expand their knowledge and programming in sustainable agriculture around the issues of supporting sustainable livestock systems. Opportunities include: minigrants, travel scholarships and sponsorship of local events related to sustainable agriculture.

Description:

Minnesota continues to be a major livestock producer, ranking #1 in turkeys, #3 in pigs, and with large numbers of cattle, mainly consisting of cow-calf herds. Most of the turkeys and pigs are raised in large scale confinement systems, but there is greater interest now than in the past, in exploring alternative methods of production. Farmers are raising poultry (broilers, layers, and turkeys) on pasture, heritage breeds of pigs used for charcuterie, other pig breeds for larger commercial operations, wool sheep for the garment industry, and meat and dairy goats for the newer immigrant communities that favor goat products. Our intent is to encourage the community of producers engaging in alternative livestock production and marketing to apply for SARE grants, in order to answer questions they may have about how to improve profitability, production efficiency, or marketing acumen. We will work with UMN Extension Educators, Campus Faculty, and NRCS and DNR Specialists to create a greater awareness how sustainable livestock systems can benefit farmers of all production sizes. We’ll attend all of the major conferences, workshops and field days to let participants know about SARE grants and resources as well as how to apply for SARE funds. We plan to send educators and farmer-educators to the local and regional events in 2019 and 2020 focusing on sustainable livestock systems. We anticipate that at least 50 farm advisor and farmer-educators will participate in these state programs during the time of this initiative, and additional individuals will be reached through webinars or other web-based distribution of information. We expect that 75 % of educators attending these events using SARE PDP professional developments funds will return to offer programming or distribute information to other educators and farmers on issues related to sustainable livestock systems. In addition, we expect that 75% of these educators increase their awareness and knowledge of sustainable livestock systems via attendance at mini-grant events, 50% of educators develop new programming to train fellow educators in an aspect of sustainable livestock systems; 75% of educators incorporate information they acquired from mini-grant program on sustainable livestock systems into programming. We will use NCR-SARE PDP mini-grant post event surveys and travel grant post event surveys to evaluate the outcomes.

Events and activities related to this initiative included:

2019: 2 travel scholarships were awarded for travel to support professional development

One Extension Educator attended a manure expo

One NGO/educator attend a grazing conference

2020: No travel grants were awarded due to COVID 19, funds were shifted to 2021

2 minigrant were funded to provide professional development

  • Waste to Worth Sustainable Agriculture Tours (2019)
  • Soil Health and Livestock Integration 101 - Education Campaign (2020)
Outcomes and impacts:
Outcomes and impacts:
 
Outcomes related to travel grants
100% said they will use information to answer client questions
100% said they will develop new programming
100% said they will incorporate new ideas and information into regular programming
100% develop new contacts and partners for work
100% use in newsletters and/or newspaper articles/radio shows

Outcomes related to minigrants:

Waste to Worth Sustainable Agriculture Tours: Waste to Worth is a national conference about sustainable, efficient, and innovative use of resources in the animal agriculture industry, and bringing value to what some consider a waste product – manure! It gathers educators and industry members from across the country to form collaborative relationships and learn about practical sustainability methods in agriculture through educational sessions, poster presentations, and tours. There will be three full-day tours to greater Minnesota designed to exhibit sustainable systems. Tours include composting and fertilizers, innovative waste management, and sustainable and innovative animal operations. The tours showcase regional success stories and opportunity for networking among participants. The tours will travel over 783 combined miles around the state of Minnesota.Tour attendees will have the opportunity to meet and network with each other as well as the tour destination hosts. As the attendees are from various types of organizations and locations across the country, new ideas and methods will be shared. Knowledge and technical skills will also be gained through these tours. We anticipate over 100 persons attending these tours. These tours will increase knowledge and awareness of sustainable systems in agriculture. We expect, and will survey, that participants are able to use the information presented in the work they do, participants are able to add new information or topics to programs or curriculum, participants can recommend positive actions to farms/ranchers, and participants leave the tours and overall conference with one or more potential collaborators.

Soil Health and Livestock Integration 101 - Education Campaign (2020)

SFA"s SOil Health and Livestock Integration 101 Campaign is designed to educate and train SFA's new Soil Health Lead, Jared Luhman, in an intensive 3.5 day "Soil Health Academy" and then require Mr. Luhman to prepare a series of educational pod casts, You Tube vidoes, SFA CONNECT articles (email newsletter every 2 weeks), and 1 fall webinar, targested to beginning soil health practioners, and those who are new to integrated sustainable livestock systems. This is proposed as an alternative to face to face field days which are curtialed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also propopsed as a way to foster soil health education among first time learners, rather than those with more advanced knowledge and skills. There are 2 audiences: The first is the core group of agricultural professionals who are part of SFA"s Soil Health Network and past Professional Development Projects. They will receive individualized outreach to encourage their use of materials from the project, and to take part in the webinar. Secondarily, SFA will share the eduational materials generated with its farmer members, and the MN Soil Health Coalition's farmer member base, and invite their leaders to take part in the webinar presentation. The series of pod casts, You Tube Videos, CONNECT articles and the webinar are intended to elaborate on either one individual soil health principle, or a particular practice that relates to one or more of the principles. They will feature both presentors at the Soil Health Academy as well as other leading soil health and sustainable livestock producers in Minnesota and the region. The topic, coupled with the method of sharing the educational information, are intended to be more unique by being packaged together, and serve as an alternative to face to face field days. Outcomes of the Project will be a more trained and connected Soil Health Lead; educational materials and knowledge products that are shared using multi-media approaches; and 1 webinar. They are intended to be made available to, and user friendly for the target audience. Impact: 100+ farmers and soil health professionals who use one or more of SFA's diverse mix of educational products to improve their soil health practices (in the case of farmers) or soil health education.

Educational & Outreach Activities

75 Consultations
25 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
10 Minigrants
3 On-farm demonstrations
6 Online trainings
20 Published press articles, newsletters
5 Study circle/focus groups
10 Tours
21 Travel Scholarships
150 Webinars / talks / presentations
25 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

400 Extension
100 NRCS
100 Researchers
400 Nonprofit
200 Agency
400 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

250 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
150 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

500 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
500 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

We continue to use our minigrant and travel grant programs as an opportunity to connect with educators in Minnesota. In 2019 we received 8 minigrant applications and 25 travel grant applications. While we are not able to fund all of these, we use it as an opportunity to provide SARE resources for these events and often attend them to speak about SARE grants and publications. We anticipate receiving as many, or more, requests for these programs in 2020. It is one of the most successful ways we’ve been able to connect educators in Minnesota with SARE resources. The demand for this program continually exceeds available funds.

2020 was a year of transition as we quickly moved the bulk of our programming online in March 2020. We worked closely with our minigrant recipients to transition their programs (when applicable) to online trainings, webinars, and tours. We offered extensions for those who needed them. We were not able to award any travel grants in 2020 but anticipate we will use those funds in 2021 as educators start to travel to meetings again. We worked with U of MN partners to develop a one-on-one online training course to help farmers develop an online presence since their in-person markets were unavailable. This was a very popular program that we continued into 2021. In the late summer we also began building stronger relationships with our 1994 tribal colleges. We are working closely with representatives from each institution to help facilitate programming around food sovereignty work. This work is being led by the tribal colleges and we are providing assistance when requested.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

We raised awareness of NCR-SARE grant opportunities and assisted applicants as well as solicited applications from traditionally underserved communities. We publicized field days and other outreach events that shared or demonstrated SARE grant results and publicized SARE grant results on the website, in newsletter articles and suggested grantees as speakers for programs.

We attended Minnesota conferences with SARE display and information and made presentations as requested. We attended the following meetings with the display and made presentations about SARE:

  • MN Organic Conference
  • Fond du Lac Tribal College
  • Gichi Manidoo Giizis Workshop and Traditional Pow Wow
  • Sustainable Farming Association Annual Conference
  • Emerging Farmers Conference (formally the Immigrant and Minority Farming Conference)
  • U of MN Research and Outreach Center Field Days (ongoing summer 2019/2020)
  • NRCS County Field Days (ongoing)
  • U of MN Soil Health Partnership events (ongoing)
  • U of MN Production Ag Symposium
  • College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources annual resource fair for faculty, staff, students
  • Minnesota Fruit and Vegetables Conference
  • Minnesota Farmers Market Conference
  • U of MN Student Organic Farm field days
  • U of MN Forever Green Initiative field days and events throughout the year
  • Green Lands Blue Waters Conference
  • National Farm Viability Conference
  • Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference
  • Summer Extension Livestock Gathering
  • Local Extension Educator(summer and fall meetings)

Our SARE Advisory Committee agreed that each member will receive a kit with SARE publications so they can attend events on behalf of MN SARE in their geographical area.

We worked closely with groups awarded SARE competitive PDP grants in Minnesota by helping them plan programs and connect them to organizations doing similar work, encouraging educator attendance at workshops and events, and providing travel grants to educators for their events.

We continue to use our minigrant and travel grant programs as an opportunity to connect with educators in Minnesota. In 2019 we received 8 minigrant applications and 25 travel grant applications. While we are not able to fund all of these, we use it as an opportunity to provide SARE resources for these events and often attend them to speak about SARE grants and publications. We anticipate receiving as many, or more, requests for these programs in 2020. It is one of the most successful ways we’ve been able to connect educators in Minnesota with SARE resources. The demand for this program continually exceeds available funds. In 2020 most of our programs were impacted by COVID restrictions. We did receive minigrant applications and were able to fund some projects. We plan to increase the number of these in 2021 when restrictions ease.

We did several webinars throughout the year: grant writing webinar with Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Extension colleagues and several COVID relief specific to farmers in summer and fall 2020. We had a lot of interest in both of these. We recorded them and were able to share them with farmers and educators who were not able to attend the webinar.

We started working with the 1994 tribal colleges in Minnesota with a pilot grant program focused on food sovereignty. This helped us to build relationships with this institutions that will allow us to further work with them on SARE grants and provide other SARE resources. These grants are funded for 2021 and we will continue to work closely with them as the work rolls out.

500 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
500 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
500 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
1000 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.