Exploring the Potential of Cultural Cash Crops and Cover Crops in Specialty Crop Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2024: $42,344.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Community Crops Program, Family Service Lincoln
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Amy Gerdes
Community Crops


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

Small-scale specialty crop production
presents many sustainability challenges, including creating crop
rotations that are fiscally responsible, suppress weeds, and
maintain or improve soil health. Additional challenges are
experienced by refugee and immigrant farmers, including language
barriers and a need to adapt production methods for culturally
important crops. This project partners with a group of diverse
specialty crop farmers in Southeastern Nebraska to test
innovative cover cropping strategies over two seasons.
Comparative performance of five culturally-important cash crops
and five high-performing cover crops will be examined. The crops'
productivity, weed suppression ability, as well as the monetary
value of the cash crops will be measured. Desired outcome is the
adoption of new cultural cash crops and traditional cover crops
into small specialty crop farmers’ crop

Participating farmers will receive
four education/demonstration sessions annually on cover crops and
related techniques for specialty crop operations. These sessions
will also be open to other area farmers, agricultural
professionals, and the broader public. Educational materials and
research findings will be shared in English and Arabic, with an
emphasis on reaching Midwestern farmers of Arabic-speaking
backgrounds. This innovative approach makes information on
sustainable agricultural practices more broadly available to
refugee and immigrant farming

Project objectives from proposal:

  1. 10 farmers will receive technical assistance implementing
    cover crop and culturally relevant Middle Eastern cash crops
    into their farm operations.
  2. 4 education/demonstration sessions
    (15 attendees each) will educate on cover crop usage and
    related techniques. Research findings on effectiveness of the
    culturally relevant cash crop and traditional western cover
    crops will be made publicly available in English and
  3. Select educational materials related
    to cover crop management and culturally important cash crops
    will be created and shared in English and
  4. Project representatives will present
    findings at one conference in the North Central
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.