Diversity - The Continuing Face of Sustainable Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $100,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Barbara Norman
Michigan Food and Farming Systems

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: native plants


  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, study circle, workshop, youth education
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    Diversity – the Continuing Face of Sustainable Agriculture

    This project seeks to assist North Central Region of SARE to reach out to and work with limited resource and minority farmers in under served communities.

    Utilizing Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS) outreach coordinators, who have decades of experience in identifying the needs of limited resource and minority farmers, we will work with SARE staff to identify 3 targeted under served communities based on demographic data and relationships that SARE has with service providers in those under served communities. MIFFS outreach staff will:

    1) meet potential leaders/early adopters in the targeted communities,
    2) develop partnerships with service providers who are interested in working with the underserved communities
    3) establish a SARE sponsored project as a means to develop relationships among SARE, the leaders/early adopters, the underserved farmers and the service providers.

    From these relationships, MIFFS will develop a list of potential barriers to participation, lists of underserved producers, lists of
    leaders/early adopters, list of service providers who want to partner with SARE, and recommendations to SARE on future work with underserved farmers and ranchers.

    Funding for this project includes:
    1) $5,000 for each of the three targeted communities to develop a SARE project that will introduce underserved producers to SARE benefits and assistance
    2) travel assistance for underserved producers who must travel more than 100 miles to participate in an educational workshop and/or project activity.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to assist North Central Region of SARE to reach out to and

    The short-term goals of this project are:
    1. Identify and create partnerships with leaders/early adopters within communities of under served groups AND local service providers, who will work with (be mentored by) project staff to:
    - identify under served producers
    - document how SARE tools and products can be used to address their needs
    - assist in introducing the under served producers to SARE educational tools and sessions.
    2. Establish a SARE sponsored project in the communities of each of the identified leaders/early adopters which will be used to draw the interest of underserved farmers to the benefits and tools available through SARE. Projects will be determined by the local partners
    based on the needs of the under served community. However, projects may include activities such as, sustainable community gardens, educational sessions on using energy savings and/or wind and solar power, or teaching “An Introduction to Healthy Soils” as a basis for beginning to understand sustainable practices.
    3. Document the under served farmers identified, leaders/early adopters mentored, service providers brought into the partnership, project results, and barriers to participation that are identified by leaders/early adopters, under served farmers, and local service providers for future use by NCR-SARE staff in outreach and assistance projects.

    The intermediate goals of this project are:
    1. Develop a trusting long-term relationship between leaders and early adopters within under served communities, service providers who partner in the project, project staff, and SARE staff that will provide ongoing service to under served farmers, as well as, input into the needs of under served communities.
    2. Increase in the participation of under served farmers in SARE programs.
    3. Greater understanding of the barriers to participation in SARE and other government sponsored programs by under served farmers.

    The long-term goals of this project are:
    1. Increase awareness of SARE and NCR-SARE to members of under served groups.
    2. Increase access to SARE educational materials by underserved audiences.
    3. Enhance the environment through greater use of sustainable agriculture practices.
    4. Enhance the economic viability of small-scale minority farmers.

    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.