In 2021 and 2022 we will focus Minnesota SARE PDP resources on five initiatives: 1) Engaging BIPOC communities around issues of sustainable agriculture 2) Resilient Local Food Systems ; 3) Sustainable adaptations for: soil health, water quality, and climate 4) Sustainable Livestock Systems. 5) Beginning farmers and ranchers.
Project objectives from proposal:
Our Advisory committee has identified 5 imitative areas for our MN SARE work in 2021/2022. In all of the initiatives the expected outcomes, activities, and evaluation will be similar.
- Expected outcomes: 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 the initiative area. In addition, we expect that 75% of these educators increase their awareness and knowledge via attendance at mini-grant events, 50% of educators develop new programming to train fellow educators; 75% of educators incorporate information they acquired from mini-grant program into programming.
- Activities: We achieve these expected outcomes through our robust travel and minigrant program. We provide travel scholarships to send educators to local, regional, and national events and ask that they incorporate that knowledge into new or existing programming. We also request that they write newsletter articles about what they learned and the SARE program overall. We work with local eductors and farmer-educators through our mini-grant program. We provide funds in each of our initiative areas to put on workshops, field days, and other events related to sustainable agriculture. We work closely with event organizers and share additional SARE information (grants, publications, etc) through these events. Lastly, we organize our own programming to supplement the minigrant work as needed in each initiative area. 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.
- Evaluation: We will use NCR-SARE PDP mini-grant post event surveys and travel grant post event surveys to evaluate the outcomes. We do not process minigrant invoices or travel grant reimbursements without an evaluation.
Initiative 1: Engaging traditionally underserved communities around issues of sustainable agriculture
This is an initiative area specifically requested by our Advisory Team. They have asked us to prioritize our work with BIPOC farmers in Minnesota around all issues related to sustainable agriculture. We plan to work with educators in multiple areas in Minnesota, and specifically with our educators in the Twin Cities metro area and at the tribal colleges. We would like to increase their access to SARE materials and grant opportunities. We plan to solicit minigrant and travel grant applications but the bulk our work with focus on Face of SARE. These are communities that are not as familiar with SARE as some of our other audiences so we plan to spend more time building relationships. Our hope is that this will result in more access to SARE opportunities in Minnesota and regionally. We are participating in a regional pilot program working with our tribal colleges on food sovereignty issues. They are identifying the projects and we will help facilitate as needed.
Initiative 2: Building resilient 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 (virtually or in person) to the following local and regional events in 2021 and 2022: MN Organic Conference, MOSES conference, Sustainable Farming Conference, Emerging Farmers Conference as well as outreach events at the U of MN Research and Outreach Centers. 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 2021 and 2022 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 2021-2022 time frame. We will provide opportunities for professional development in the area of soil health management practices, including those pertaining to water quality/quantity issues, and more practices to improve farmers soil health management.
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 plan to send educators and farmer-educators to the local and regional events in 2021 and 2022 focusing on sustainable livestock systems and encourage the development of minigrant programs on issues related to sustainable livestock systems.
Initiative 5: Beginning farmers and ranchers
In order to participate in the NCR-SARE regional initiative for 2021-22, one of our initiative focus areas will be on “beginning farmers and ranchers.” We will particularly work with members of our state delegation who attended the regional training in Indianapolis on October 1-2, 2019. These educators will be asked to 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 that increases the sustainability and success of beginning farmers and ranchers.