Indiana 19-20 Plan of Work

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
State Coordinator:
Lais McCartney
Purdue Extension

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation
  • Education and Training: extension
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture


    The Indiana SARE program has gone through changes in the last year. Tamara Benjamin served as the interim state coordinator since the retirement of Roy Ballard in October 2019 with Lais McCartney serving as co-coordinator since May 2020.  Lais became the full-time state coordinator in October.   

    COVID-19 has halted many of our activities, including planned events for the current PDP SARE funding. We have had to pivot and look for new and creative ways to reach our stakeholders, including reconditioning funds to facilitate digital and online delivery of information which we anticipate will continue into 2021.  

    Indiana will continue to move toward the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices. Indiana is a leader in the adoption of cover crops and other soil health-promoting practices, integrated pest management strategies, pollinator protection practices, urban farming, diversified farming systems, and local food production. 

    Additions of Assistant ANR program leader positions in Soil Health/Cover Crops and Diversified Farming and Food Systems, the addition of Statewide Food Safety Educator, a statewide Urban Agriculture Coordinator, Organic/Diversified/Urban Ag Educators and the growth of the Indiana Small Farm Conference as a means of outreach to a previously largely underserved audience are all signs of the evolution that is underway and evidence of Indiana’s awakening to the concept of sustainable agriculture.

    The Indiana SARE PDP program continues to extend its reach to new audiences and to engage new groups of educators in its programmatic efforts. The SARE Advisory committee is increasing the diversity of its representation and continues to seek suitable talented and passionate representatives. This Plan of work is a direct representation of their commitment and collaboration.

    Indiana is fortunate to have a formalized collaboration of Agency partners committed to conservation, the Indiana Conservation Partnership, and IN SARE is the beneficiary of this collaboration.

    Efforts have begun to expand the reach to youth educators across Indiana specifically IN Vo-Ag instructors, to build awareness of SARE, better assess their needs, share resources, and find ways to engage the next generation of farmers.

    It remains a primary goal of the Indiana SARE Coordinator to not only expand the communication with these separate groups and to identify and foster ways to foster additional cooperation in program delivery, but additionally to identify others in Indiana who may be serving in these capacities in smaller perhaps more local ways. Outreach to staff in other Indiana Colleges and Universities with interests in sustainability is underway.

    The Small Farm Conference continues to serve as a much-needed focal point for the subjects of small farms and sustainable agriculture in Indiana but also a very visible commitment to these subjects from multiple partners coming together to make something special happen. Conventional farmers experiencing low commodity prices are reaching out for information on a variety of related topics.

    The Purdue Small Farm Team, the Diversified Farming and Food Systems program, and the IN SARE Advisory Council work separately but in a collaborative manner. The decision-making body for the IN SARE PDP effort will be the members of the SARE Advisory Council (AC) who will collaborate and be supportive of the professional development efforts of the Purdue Small Farm team in addition to other professional development needs identified by the AC.

    The following initiatives were identified, discussed, and approved by the IN SARE Advisory Council at their September 7, 2018 meeting, further refined by Initiative Teams and then approved by the full AC:

    • Structural Support for Food and Agriculture System Change
    • Crop and Livestock Diversification Practices to Enhance Agricultural Sustainability
    • Integrated Approach to Our Agriculture Natural Resources
    • Addressing the Needs of Underrepresented Audiences in Agriculture and Food Systems
    • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Regional Initiative

    Project objectives:

    State initiatives for 2019-20 are:

    Initiative 1: Structural Support for Food and Agriculture System Change

    • Establishing an Indiana Food Council from the Ground up
    • School garden network development


    Initiative 2: Crop and Livestock Diversification Practices to Enhance Agricultural Sustainability

    • Sustainable Integration of Livestock on Cropland Workshops
    • Effective Communication of Animal Welfare Issues & Certification Opportunities
    • Supporting diversification of Indiana grain farms with small grains and organic production


    Initiative 3: Integrated Approach to Our Agriculture Natural Resources

    • Basics of Soil Health
    • Core Cover Crops
    • Core Soil Health Systems
    • Advanced Soil Health Systems Training
    • Advanced Cover Crops Training (Commodity Crop Emphasis)
    • Understanding Success and Barriers of Cover Crop Use in Vegetable Production
    • Cover Crop Workshop at 2020 Indiana Horticulture Congress
    • Education/Presentation Skills Development for Educators and Peer-Based Mentors


    Initiative 4: Addressing the Needs of Underrepresented Audiences in Agriculture and Food Systems


    Initiative 5: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers-Regional Initiative

    Additionally, IN SARE is committed to participating in the NCR-SARE 2019 Regional training.

    Indiana will participate in the NCR-SARE sponsored regional training intended for educators from extension, non-profit organizations, and other relevant Ag educators who are involved in providing educational assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. The goal is to share best practices from recent and existing beginning farmer and rancher projects on what works and what doesn’t, including mentoring and apprenticeships, networking strategies, and key educational goals for working with the beginning farmer and rancher community. Participants will be identified by NCR-SARE state coordinators from the 12 North Central states. Our objectives are to increase to the knowledge of Agricultural Professionals from across Indiana about these key initiatives through a variety of means that are both readily accessible and financially responsible. To accomplish this we will collaborate with a variety of agricultural and food related agencies, institutions and organizations across Indiana and engage them in problem identification, selection of educational outreach type, program delivery and evaluation. Additional information regarding outreach efforts and information specific to each about audience, justification, outputs, outcomes and evaluation can be found in the “Education” section of this report.

    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.