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


    This project has provided outreach to minority farmers in seven of the twelve states in the North Central SARE region. This project has carried the SARE Sustainable Agriculture story to well over 2,000 small scale, limited-resource producers and families. The Continuing Face of Sustainable Agriculture (CFSA) project has exposed them to SARE bulletins, pamphlets, books, and grants. The project included visits to the farms of Michigan NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant awardees, and a Farmers Forum at the Annual Michigan Family Farms (MIFFS) Conference (2010 attendance was 460). Our primary work areas included Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois and Michigan, where we received assistance from farmers and organizers to complete our scope of work.


    There is a vast amount of diversity in the targeted geographic communities reached by this project ranging from:

    • Michigan - Detroit Urban Farmers, Urban farmers growing sustainable food in raised bed gardens on vacant lots in Detroit, Michigan (eleventh largest US city - population was 951,270 according to the 2000 Census.) Covert, MI served as the adjunct base of operations and Barbara Norman was the primary communicator with all participants.

    • Illinois - Small-Scale African American Farmers. Hidden among the corn fields in Kankakee County, Hopkins Park Village and Pembroke Township, Illinois (population 2,400 per the 2000 Census; 56 sq. miles, all of it farm land) is home to a historically rich group of African American farmers servicing the Chicago, IL markets.

    • Kansas – Historic Community of African American farmers. Nicodemus, Kansas (population 52 per the 2000 Census; 2007 Census population: 24; town has a total area of 32.32 square miles, population per square mile 1.61), is a registered National Historic site and home to original descendants from the great migration of free men of color seeking land after the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Project objectives:

    CFSA's project objective was to assist North Central Region SARE to reach out to and work with limited-resource and minority farmers in underserved communities.

    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.