NCR SARE - Indiana State Plan of Work 2021-2022

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Purdue Extension
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
State Coordinators:
Lais McCartney
Pudue Extension Hancock County

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, meat processing
  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    2021-2022 Indiana state initiative topics

    1. Structural Support for Food and Agriculture  
    2. Crop and Livestock Diversification Practices to Enhance Regenerative Agriculture and Food Systems   
    3. Integrated Approach to Natural Resources   
    4. Addressing the Needs of Underserved Audiences in Agriculture and Food Systems    
    5. Beginning Farmer and Rancher Regional Initiative       

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Professional Development Initiatives


    Initiative 1: Structural Support for Food and Agricultural Systems 


    In Indiana, there is strong interest from public health leaders and educators to incorporate healthy, local food into preventative and treatment programs for patients, and to engage with the community through gardening and healthy lifestyle choices. Often hospitals, clinics, doctors, health coalitions, and educators are not well-versed on the research and evidence-based programs that use local food to educate the public. Hospitals, clinics, and health foundations are interested in investing in food systems for a healthier Indiana but lack the education, training, and connections to each other to make things happen. Structuring a health care system that fosters a healthy food culture will support Indiana’s sustainable food producers and businesses and yield long-term impacts in communities. This initiative will focus on identifying programs that connect local food to health, educational needs, training for medical professionals, and grow collaborations across the state. 



    1. More than 100 organizations, hospitals, foundations, clinics, and educators contacted to contribute to a common database.  
    2. Convene affinity groups to identify educational needs and channels. 
    3. Host or travel to two trainings for up to 60 professionals.  
    4. Convene regular meetings on Food is Medicine topics with targeted groups across Indiana including elected officials and others interested in learning more about how locally grown food can contribute to a healthier Indiana. 

    Expected Outcomes:  

    Short term:  

    • A list with identified projects created along with an interactive map 
    • At least six focus groups formed 
    • Regular meetings on Food is Medicine topics with groups across Indiana will meet. 
    • People associated with the health industry will receive professional development training.  
    • Public health care organizations health professionals in and out of Indiana will connect for ongoing support and assistance. 


    • Understand how practitioners, paramedical professionals, health foundations and health coalitions/nonprofits access information for Food is Medicine type projects.  
    • Understand how they access professional development and from where so that we might identify training programs that exist for food is medicine projects.  

     Long term:  

    • Organizations will discuss with each other how they developed their projects, what partners were involved, what funding was needed and what were the outcomes and impacts.  
    • Create a plan of action for hosting or traveling to professional development opportunities.  
    • Organizations determine the best approach for food is medicine type programming.  
    • Evolution of partnerships and potentially funded projects. 

     Initiative 2Crop and Livestock Diversification Practices to Enhance Regenerative Agriculture and Food Systems 

    Educators need training to support the diverse needs of farmers, landowners, and processors in Indiana.  This encompasses context-specific principles at the farm-level with diversified crop and livestock systems, regional processing infrastructure and regulatory compliance, and landowner engagement.  Trainings, categorized as follows, 1) systems thinking for regenerative farming success or 2) regional infrastructure and market development for farm diversification and regenerative regional farm economies. 


    1. A total of 30 educators will attend the 2021 and 2022 Indiana Small Farm Conference 
    2. 40 educators and stakeholders will attend trainings offered with Pasture Project and Savory Institute. Includes introductory webinar(s), and in-field learning activities at host farms. 
    3. Training on regional livestock processing and network formation pertaining to livestock processing 
    4. 10 educators’ Field trip to Indiana and Kentucky for 10 educators’ - hair sheep and goat training.  
    5. Workshop on digital methods for livestock production 
    6. Training for Extension educators about absentee and investment landowners; how they can help facilitate the conversation from conventional agriculture to a regenerative/holistic farming. 


    Expected Outcomes: 

    Short term: 

    • Ag professionals will increase their knowledge about small farm production, marketing, and management practices and the challenges and opportunities that face small farmers in Indiana.   
    • Ag professionals are aware of sustainable grazing management and the integration of livestock into farming systems using cover crops and extended cropping rotations.     
    • Ag professionals will obtain knowledge and awareness of livestock processing and regional food system infrastructure needs and regulations 
    • A space created for various stakeholders along the supply chain to discuss challenges and opportunities in regional livestock processing. 
    • Resources and expertise leveraged from the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN). 
    • Knowledge gained on hair sheep and goats     
    • Group of Educators will understand how current digital systems can be utilized on farms 
    • Group of educators trained with some ideas of how to serve absentee and investment landowners. 



    • After the SFC, educators will share knowledge with their stakeholders 
    • Discussions in regional livestock processing informs educational gaps and assists in delivering educational trainings.   
    • Educators will pass on their knowledge to producers on the different ways to raise hair sheep and goats. 
    • Participants will develop programming to transfer knowledge to producers, and work with key supply chain stakeholders to identify and address issues to further adoption and development of markets (particularly for small grains).       
    • Educators will instruct on current and future methods of utilizing digital methods for livestock production. 
    • Extension Educators, Agriculture Teachers, and Extension Specialists will instruct on the different ways to incorporate regenerative/holistic farming. 


    Long term: 

    • Small-scale farmers will have more viable farms based on the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices. 


    Initiative 3 - Integrated Approach to Our Natural Resource 

    Indiana remains a leader in soil health practices and cover crop adoption. The various levels of knowledge across the state provide a need for a tiered training program for professionals, and specialized training for specific production models. Each program focuses on the environmental and economic sustainability of soil health practices while touching on the social aspects of these practices.  


    • Training programs in  
    • Basics of Soil Health podcast 12/year (2021/2022) 
    • Advanced Soil Health Systems Training 4 per year (2021) 
    • Advanced Cover Crops Training (Commodity Crop Emphasis) - 4 per year (2022 
    • Demonstrating Cover Crop Use and Reduced Tillage in Specialty Crop Pumpkin, Corn and Watermelon Production (2021, 2022) A portion of this budget is found under salary and fringe spreadsheet 
    • Cover Crop and Soil Health Training at Indiana Horticulture Congress (2021/2022) 
    • Education/Presentation Skills Development for Educators and Peer-Based Mentors (2021/2022) 


    Expected Outcomes:  

    Short term:  

    • Grow cover crop interest through Podcast with Hoosier Ag Today 
    • ~160 ag professionals will increase their knowledge of the impacts of reduced soil disturbance, increased residue cover, increased biodiversity, and year-round living roots on soil health.  They will learn of the various benefits, uses, and management of cover crops.    
    • ~160 ag professionals will increase their knowledge of the various benefits, uses and management of cover crops (specialty and commodity crop systems) using prescribed cover crops. 
    • 40 ag professionals and farmers learn about Cover Crop Use and Reduced Tillage in Specialty Crop Pumpkin, Corn and Watermelon Production (2021, 2022)  
    • 20 ag professionals will increase their knowledge about successful cover crop use in vegetables and weed and nutrient management for the cash crop with soil health emphasis. 
    • 50 ag professionals improve their presentation and communication skills.   


    Intermediate term:  

    • Local educators will transfer their information and knowledge back home to other educators, conservation staff, ag students, and local farmers.  
    • Information sharing through the network in newsletters, blogs, news releases and local/ regional meetings as well as in the development of conservation plans to address specific resource concerns. 
    • Through improved communication skills, local educators will be more effective in their outreach and education efforts. They will also share techniques with other local staff. 
    • PAC staff will integrate cover crops and/or reduced tillage into standard production practices at their center. 


    Initiative 4: Addressing the Needs of Underserved Audiences in Agriculture and Food Systems in Urban Farming Systems 

    Indiana’s practice of urban agriculture has greatly expanded in the past several years, partly in response to the increasing difficulty of accessing fresh, healthy food in urban areas. But there is still much to do in this arena, particularly in addressing the needs of farmers of color. Urban agriculture work differs from rural agriculture in terms of land base, social structure, mission, and growing methods. Resources for urban agriculture must be tailored to these unique characteristics, requiring those supporting this work to have a broad knowledge base and skills distinct from what was required to support rural agriculture enterprises. Additionally, this support must be provided with respect to long-standing social inequities and injustices impacting underserved urban communities, particularly those of people of color.    

    The following activities will provide an opportunity to discuss and address the specific needs of urban farmers: 


    • Three in-state farm viability tours each year (2021, 2022) 
    • Midwest Learning field trip to Detroit, MI. (2021) 
    • Five ag professionals will be sponsored to attend the Small Farm Conference hosted by Purdue Extension in 2022.  
    • “Best Practices” video series. These videos will be shared during the Indiana Small Farm Conference, in programming curriculum from Purdue Extension and through online public platforms such as YouTube and social media.  These videos will be created throughout the farm tours activities. 


    Expected Outcomes:  

    Short term: 

    • 75 ag professionals will travel, network and learn from host farmers and farms. 
    • 30 farmers and ag professionals will visit urban farms in Detroit and network and learn best practices. 
    • 5 ag professionals will gain knowledge from attending the Small Farm Conference hosted by Purdue Extension in 2022.  
    • A statewide network of urban agriculture trainers in Indiana will be formed, at least 15 will be farmer leaders of color from urban areas, eight will be Extension educators and specialists, and five will be conservation agency personnel who work closely with urban farmers. Specific needs of urban farmers will be discussed. Exchange of knowledge among and outside of the cohort.                               



    • An increase in participation of urban farmers and farmers of color in future learning activities. 
    • An increase in the number of urban agriculture events, improved coordination of educational activities and resources in Indiana, and innovation on urban farms.  


    Long term: 

    • Identification of unique needs and issues faced by urban farmers and farmers of color and improveefficacy of educators and conservation staff to build partnerships and create resources that address these challenges. 
    • Increased capacity of professionals to support urban farms and to build relationships with urban farming leaders in Indiana. 



    Initiative 5: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers-Regional Initiative  

    Continued efforts are needed to increase our capacity to work with beginning farmers and ranchers. We are particularly concerned about those who are underserved by Purdue Extension and USDA programs. As such, efforts are needed to encourage working with BIPOC, military veterans, and women farmers.  During the two-year plan of the work period, we will offer additional SARE-funded travel scholarships, and where appropriate, mini-grant support to further educational programming that increases the sustainability and success of underserved beginning farmers and ranchers.         



    The number of contacts will be recorded and surveyed by the Indiana Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator for the annual report asking questions pertaining to outcomes to see their results in knowledge and outcomes pertaining to long term behavior changes. We will conduct pre- and post-program surveys for each learning event (farm tours, Small Farm Conference, and the Detroit, MI tour) to determine knowledge gained, retained, and utilized. A follow-up survey will be sent to each participant a year after the event to assess what innovative practices were applied on their farms, and if any improvements were noted due to knowledge gained. Participants will also report the number of outreach activities they hosted that include information they learned at these events, and an estimated number of producers impacted by those activities. Participants will report back to the State SARE Coordinator, by Dec. 2021 and 2022, the number of their outreach activities (programs, individual consultations, newsletter articles, workshops, etc.) that include information they learned at these events, and an estimated number of producers impacted by those activities. 




    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.