November 2020

Farmer Grant proposals due by Nov 17

As a reminder, we are currently accepting proposals for the Northeast SARE Farmer Grant ProgramProposals are due online by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.

Farmer Grants provide research funds for commercial farms to explore new ideas in almost any aspect of production, marketing and other topics that influence successful farming in the region. The call for proposals, including detailed instructions and supporting documents, are posted on the Northeast SARE website at  

Apply Today

Northeast SARE seeks candidates for Administrative Council

We are currently seeking individuals to serve on our Administrative Council. This 20-member governance committee sets program policies for Northeast SARE, participates in the grant review process and makes final award decisions for all grant programs. Current council members include farmers, agency personnel, Extension and nonprofit staff, researchers, industry representatives and others from across the Northeast.

We are specifically seeking to fill three open seats representing:

  • Agricultural lending and farm financial management;
  • Non-profit organizations engaged in environmental work; and
  • For-profit agricultural businesses/industry.

Interested individuals should submit (preferably as one PDF file) a letter describing their interest in serving on the council, a resume and a short description of the business or organization where they work. Please send this information to Northeast SARE director Dr. Vern Grubinger at by December 4, 2020. Learn more at:

WV farm determines optimal strawberry planting dates

Strawberries are a high demand crop for both pick-your-own and local retail markets. While this crop commands premium prices, growing strawberries in southern West Virginia has been tricky due to challenges like deer and weed pressure, labor demands and planting time conflicts. With their Northeast SARE Farmer Grant, Kent and Jennifer Gilkerson of Sunset Berry Farm and Produce in Alderson, WV tested different planting dates for their potential to address these challenges. 

In WV, current strawberry planting recommendations are limited to a narrow window in August. The Gilkersons compared the recommended date with three additional planting dates later in the season, spaced two weeks apart. Strawberries were planted in a field setting using plasticulture on Aug 23, Sept 5 and 20, and Oct 4. The plots were evaluated based on bloom dates, crown development, runner production, and fruit production. They found that the two early planting dates had the most favorable branch crown development and fruit production. The Oct planting date did not produce well. However, on their farm, the Sept 20 planting date produced a great crop of strawberries and required less physical labor for runner and weed removal. 

As a result of the project, the Gilkersons have changed their strawberry planting dates to the first week of September. Pushing the timing back by just two weeks has allowed them to get other work completed (eg., corn and watermelon harvest) helping spread out labor demands on the farm. They also saw a healthier strawberry crop due to less weed pressure and decreased deer damage as well as reduced demand for labor to pull weeds and remove runners. They hope that the results of their study will benefit other growers in southeastern West Virginia who might be interested in starting or expanding strawberry operations.

Learn more >

Photo courtesy of Lisa Calvo

NJ farm evaluates oyster seed nursery practices

Oyster farming is increasing in the Northeast and is a top contributor of our region’s $161 million in annual aquaculture sales. However, a major challenge to the continued growth of this shellfish crop is availability of oyster seed. Hatchery and nursery capacity for seed production is limited, and often the demand for oyster seed exceeds their production capacity.

To help address this challenge, Lisa Calvo of Sweet Amalia Oyster Farm in Newfield, NJ conducted a Northeast SARE Farmer Grant project to evaluate on-farm nursery strategies. She tested the performance of two cage types for growing oyster seed in two different positions (floating and fixed on bottom) with two stocking densities (2,000 and 8,000 seeds per cage). Calvo measured oyster seed survival, growth, shell morphology, and biofouling over a period of 12 weeks. She found that all methods were effective for the field nursery of seed; oyster seed survival averaged 84%. Calvo noted that the seed grown in floating cages grew faster than seed grown on the bottom and that shell shape was also influenced by the cage type and position.

The results of the project will help oyster farmers start or improve field nurseries that will better ensure they have an adequate supply of oyster seed. Calvo said the project has led to changes on her farm; she is now purchasing 2 mm seed for her field nursery and is continuing to modify her system to ensure the healthy production of oysters. 

Learn more >

Featured Farmer-to-Farmer Resource

At Northeast SARE, we recognize and celebrate the power of farmer-to-farmer sharing. Key to the Farmer Grant program is outreach and sharing of project results with other farmers. Highlighted below is a resource created by a farmer for farmers with SARE funds. This and more SARE resources are available  at

Edible Weeds on Farms

By Tusha Yakovleva, Found Wild
Tusha Yakovleva of Found Wild in New York's Hudson Valley authored this 98-page guide on wild edible plants on cultivated soils. Many weeds are nutritious and resilient, yet they are often considered as nuisances on the farm. Yakovleva encourages readers to see "weeds" in a new light -- as ways to provide supplemental income, offer novel flavors and phytonutrients, increase biodiversity, improve soil and even strengthen communities. 
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

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