- Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, feed management, feed rations, grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, manure management, winter forage
- Crop Production: agroforestry, cover crops, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, crop rotation, forestry, high tunnels or hoop houses, nutrient management, pollinator habitat, season extension types and construction
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, business planning, farmers' markets/farm stands, financial management, land access, whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wetlands, wildlife
- Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture
- Soil Management: composting, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: community development, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, food hubs, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, values-based supply chains
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.
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.