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September-October 2021

Farmer Grant Program Now Open!

Proposals Due by 5 p.m. ET on November 16, 2021

Northeast SARE is inviting farmers and growers to submit proposals to the Farmer Grant Program. Proposals are due online by 5 p.m. on Nov. 16 for projects starting next spring. Funded projects, which are now capped at $30,000, will be announced in late Feb. 2022. 

The Call for Proposals, including detailed instructions on how to apply, is posted on our website at www.northeastsare.org/farmergrant. The online submission system will open to accept proposals on Oct. 1

Farmer Grants are intended for farmers and growers who want to explore new concepts in sustainable agriculture through experiments, surveys, prototypes, on-farm demonstrations or other research and education techniques. These grants are not intended to provide start-up funds or be used to finance farm equipment or expand farm operations. Successful proposals explore new paths to sustainable agriculture or plan projects that are useful to other farmers.

The grant program is open to farm business owners and farm employees from all types and scales of farms (including urban agriculture and aquaculture) in the Northeast region. Indigenous growers are eligible and encouraged to apply as are farmers working on farms affiliated with an institution or a nonprofit organization so long as the farm meets Northeast SARE's definition of a farm. Northeast SARE encourages projects submitted from, or in collaboration with, women, the LGBTQ+ community and Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC).

Above: Moustapha Diedhiou and Nfamara Badjie of Ever-Growing Family Farm who studied nursery methods of rice production, Project FNE19-933. Photo courtesy of Ever-Growing Family Farm.

Learn More About Farmer Grants


Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Noon to 1 p.m. ET

Join staffer Candice Huber and Faith Gilbert of Letterbox Farm for a webinar about the Farmer Grant Program. Bring your questions! The webinar is open to everyone but please register at: go.uvm.edu/sarefarmergrantwebinar. It will be live captioned and recorded for future viewing.
 
Register for Webinar
Farmer Grant Project Highlight

Winter Survival Strategies for Oysters

Photo courtesy of Betsy Haskin.
Erratic winter weather conditions on the Delaware Bay means that oyster farmers there can face significant losses to ice and temperature fluctuations, amounting to thousands of dollars in oyster mortalities annually. Protective measures used in other parts of the region like “pitting” (an Indigenous technique of moving oysters from the water and burying them in the sand during the winter months) are not options for the mid-Atlantic’s warmer temperatures.

However, use of commercial coolers in northern climes showed potential. Therefore, farmer Betsy Haskin of Betsy's Cape Shore Salts in Cape May Court House, New Jersey conducted a Northeast SARE Farmer Grant project to explore cold storage as a method to reduce winter mortality of Eastern oysters while managing pests to improve overall oyster health. Over the winter of 2019-2020, Haskin looked at three treatments: subtidal (submerged underwater), intertidal control (racks are placed on shore and are submerged underwater or exposed to air depending on the tides, pictured above), and commercial cold storage. Oysters were monitored for growth, mortality and presence of common oyster diseases (Dermo and MSX) and mud blister worm (Polydora websteri).

Mild winter conditions during the study complicated the experiment which did not show an improvement in survival, condition or growth of oysters in cold storage compared to the intertidal group. Haskin observed that there was minimal oyster mortality in the cold storage treatment as well as in the intertidal and subtidal groups. Cold storage as compared to the other groups also did not appear to affect the presence of oyster pests. Haskin concluded that, “In winters when temperatures fluctuate widely, cold storage for overwintering oysters could be a good option.” Further, Haskin noted that, for her operation, she found the practicality of using cold storage appealing. “It is easier and less expensive for me and, perhaps other oyster growers, to access a large cooler than a deep-water subtidal site and boats to get there.” She said, “Given the unpredictability of winter weather in a changing climate it may be beneficial to use cold storage in future winters and I have chosen to continue to do so.”
In this video, RI farmer Ben Coerper of Wild Harmony Farm describes his Northeast SARE Farmer Grant project, "Viability of Hogging Down Corn and Peas as Swine Feedstock".
Farmer Grant Project Highlight

Hogging Down to Improve Livestock Feed and Farm Soils


When looking for ways to reduce livestock feed costs, Ben Coerper of Wild Harmony Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island discovered a 1950s text book that described “hogging down”, a technique where pigs harvest farm-grown crops themselves. Since feed expenses had been running between one-third to one-half of total costs for his swine operation, Coerper was keen to try this technique to see if he could lower production costs while improving soil health.

With a Northeast SARE Farmer Grant, he grew corn and field peas for two seasons and allowed the pigs to self-harvest, comparing their rates of growth to a control group fed organic commercial grain. Although the project faced some challenges with growing the crops, results showed significant cost savings – feed costs for the hogging down pigs averaged $0.36/pound of weight gain versus the control group at $1.37/pound of weight gain. Coerper also saw soil improvements with this technique with slight increases in organic matter and macro-nutrient levels. He concluded that, “If we owned proper tillage and planting equipment (or better yet, a no-till planter), this could be a very viable option for both decreasing production costs, as well as improving soil health.”

Creating Farmer-to-Farmer Resources & Spaces


One of the aspects baked into the Farmer Grant Program is the request to share project results with other farmers and providing the funding to support that sharing as part of the grant. Research has shown that peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and engagement are effective adult learning strategies and can provide other benefits to the health of farm businesses and farmers themselves. Plus, it can be a fun and rewarding way to connect with other farmers. 

Northeast SARE has been flexible about what project outreach and sharing looks like for Farmer Grant projects as each farmer recipient has individual preferences and is embedded into their own unique community and peer networks--what might work for one farmer and their project may not work for another. SARE's Farmer Field Day Toolkit provides helpful information on how to organize and host farmer-to-farmer spaces like field days. We recognize the pandemic has made farmer-to-farmer sharing a bit more challenging so we have also compiled ideas on conducting outreach online.

Some Farmer Grant recipients choose to create guides, manuals, fact sheets and schematics to share results of their projects -- these are posted on their project reports and are also available on our website at: www.northeastsare.org/resources/. Following are some recent additions of resources for farmers created by farmers.
Sowing the Seeds of Justice Food:
A Guide for Farmers Who Want to Supply Low-Income Communities While Maintaining Financial Sustainability

By Myles Lennon, Breanna Regan and Leah Penniman, Soul Fire Farm
Project FNE17-879
Managing Staph aureus on the Organic Dairy
By Katie Webb Clark, Reed Farm
Project FNE19-946


Integrated Fly Management for Pastured Cattle
By Matt Steiman, Dickinson College Farm, and Jason Smith
Project FNE18-911
Good Food Farmers Network Guide:
A Replicable Model of Farmer-Owned Joint Marketing and Sales

By Henry Corsun, Dog Wood Farm
Project FNE15-824
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Northeast SARE offers competitive grants and sustainable agriculture education in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Our programs are offered to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status. SARE is funded by USDA NIFA. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
 
 

Northeast SARE

140 Kennedy Drive, Suite 202
South Burlington, Vermont 05403
802.651.8335
northeastsare@uvm.edu
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