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September 2020

Northeast SARE Invites Applications for Farmer Grant Program

Due by 5 p.m. on November 17, 2020

Northeast SARE is now accepting applications for its Farmer Grant Program. Up to $15,000 is available per project. The online system opens on Oct. 1 and applications are due by 5 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2020. The Farmer Grant Program funds farmers to explore new concepts in sustainable agriculture on production, marketing, labor, farm succession, social capital and other areas through experiments, surveys, prototypes, on-farm demonstrations or other research and education techniques. Grants may not be used to help start or expand farm businesses. Application materials, including detailed instructions and supporting documents, are posted at

Join us on Oct 6 for a Webinar on Applying for Farmer Grants

Northeast SARE is offering a free webinar on how to apply for a Farmer Grant. It is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 from noon to 1 p.m. Grant coordinator Candice Huber will provide an overview of the program and answer questions about Farmer Grant projects. She will be joined by NH farmer Jennifer Wilhelm (see project highlight below) who will share her experiences of applying for, receiving, and conducting Farmer Grant projects. Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to participate should contact the Northeast SARE office at or 802-651-8335 before Sept. 29, 2020. 
Register Today

Small-scale Vegetable Operation Explores Solutions to Farming on Marginal Soils

How do small-scale farmers in rural and urban locations farm successfully on marginal soils? Jennifer Wilhelm of Fat Peach Farm in Madbury, NH conducted a Farmer Grant project to find out. Wilhelm had established no-till permanent raised beds on her one-acre mixed vegetable operation and her project investigated weed suppression, soil health and production potential of this system. With help from her technical advisor, Richard Smith of the University of New Hampshire, Wilhelm conducted a weed bank study and discovered that the farm had high weed diversity, but low abundance. She also monitored time spent weeding and calculated that about 3% of total farm time was spent weeding, averaging $547.50/farm laborer/season.

To assess soil health, she used the Cornell Soil Health Assessment and determined that first year plantings did not perform well due to woodchips robbing nitrogen from the soil. The soil health data showed that overall physical, biological, and chemical factors of the test plots were in optimal condition; the beds had high organic matter which suggested that the system may effectively prevent run-off and increase water holding capacity. However, high levels of phosphorus were found in both years of her study, indicating a need to change the farm's fertility management practices. Wilhelm also looked at production potential of this system and did not find significant difference in yields between plots; she concluded that after the plots were established, permanent raised beds can produce consistent yields. The research confirmed for Wilhelm that no-till permanent raised beds are a viable system for small-scale growers. 

Hudson Valley Farm Applies African Farming Methods to Local Rice Production  

Video courtesy of Cornell University.
Dawn Hoyte and Nfamara Badjie of Ever-Growing Family Farm in Ulster Park, NY received a Farmer Grant to evaluate nursery methods for rice production. Transplants are critical to growing this crop successfully in our region, given the short growing season. Past Farmer Grant research has shown that using a plug-tray nursery method was successful. Badjie, originally from Gambia, wanted to compare the plug-tray method to the Diolla-style field nursery method, with which he was familiar, where field nurseries are constructed as raised beds next to rice paddies. With guidance from their technical advisor, Erika Styger of Cornell University, the team--which included Badjie, his cousin, Moustapha Diedhiou, and son, Malick--established a randomized block experimental design to look at sowing and transplanting timing for both nursery methods using two rice varieties. They found that, on their farm, the Diolla method resulted in more robust seedlings and required less transplanting time. They were also able to extend the window to transplant and shorten the production cycle by using the Diolla-style nursery bed. 

Dairy Farm Closes Loop with Improved Compost System

Eric Paris (right) discusses his Farmer Grant with his project team, including his technical advisor, James McSweeney, Composting Technical Services consultant (left).
Eric Paris of Tamarlane Farm, a dairy in northeastern Vermont, has been closing the loop on his farm by composting farm waste and community food scraps (about 12 tons per week) to create a valuable fertility source for his farm fields. His Farmer Grant project sought to determine whether a low-cost Aerated Static Pile (ASP) system would improve the efficiency of the farm’s composting program as compared to the typical composting method he was using where windrows are repeatedly turned by tractor. Paris was specifically interested in learning if an ASP system--which uses a fan and ductwork to force air into the piles without turning them--would reduce composting time, space needs, and labor hours. 

Through this research, Paris found that the ASP system trialed was able to achieve temperature requirements (as defined by the National Organic Program) for the compost material in 3 days (versus 15 days with the turned windrow system). The system used only about one-third of the space needed for the turned windrow method. Labor savings were inconclusive; in fact, Paris noted that the ASP system’s aeration schedule must be monitored more frequently and adjusted to prevent the piles from overheating or drying out. However, he believed that with more experimentation, the ASP system would be a labor saver. Further, in comparing ASP systems available, the system they trialed cost about $1,000 in materials, making this an affordable option for his composting operation as well as for other farms of a similar scale to Tamarlane Farm. 

Featured Farmer-to-Farmer Resource

At Northeast SARE, we recognize and celebrate the power of farmer-to-farmer sharing. Over the next couple of months, we will be highlighting resources that were created by farmers for farmers with SARE funds. See these and more SARE resources at

21st-Century Pastured Poultry

By Nickhi Carangelo, Letterbox Farm Collective, Hudson, NY
This 48-page management guide is designed to be a comprehensive resource for farmers seeking to develop, expand or improve a pastured poultry enterprise. Using Joel Salatin’s "Pastured Poultry Profit$" as inspiration, author Nickhi Carangelo takes into account recent pastured poultry improvements, contemporary production costs and current market trends. The guide uses data from the pastured poultry operation at Letterbox Farm Collective and also draws on the experiences of other farmers.
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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