The Administrative Council of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program recently approved $5.8 million in funding to support 62 projects to conduct applied research, farmer education and farm advisor training to strengthen sustainable agriculture throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Northeast SARE offers six different grant programs for farmers, educators, service providers, researchers throughout our region, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Projects were awarded through the Research and Education, Research for Novel Approaches in Sustainable Agriculture, Professional Development, and Farmer Grant programs. Recipients of the Partnership and Graduate Student Research Grant programs, currently accepting applications, will be voted on at the Administrative Council meeting in July.
Teams of farmers, researchers, educators, and industry and non-profit representatives reviewed proposals. Northeast SARE’s Administrative Council—a 20-member governance body representing a broad constituency of the Northeast agricultural community—then made final funding allocation decisions.
Projects recommended to receive funding that will start in 2022 include the following.
Research and Education Grants
The Research and Education Grant Program funds projects that result in gains in farmer knowledge, awareness, skills and attitudes that are then applied to make measurable on-farm changes leading to greater sustainability.
Projects may be submitted with or without an applied research component, but all projects must have an outcome-based education program for farmers.
District of Columbia
Women for the Land: Helping Women Farmers Advance Soil Health in Pennsylvania
American Farmland Trust
AFT will ensure women farmers in Pennsylvania have the knowledge, skills, and access to technical and financial assistance they need to achieve the adoption of soil health management practices on their farmland.
Implementation of Improved Intestinal Parasite Management Practices on Maryland Livestock Farms
University of Maryland
University of Maryland teach livestock and equine producers in Maryland how to implement best practices for intestinal parasite management and reduce reliance on dewormers through a combination of direct (on-farm consultations, field days, demonstrations) and indirect (articles, webinars) methods.
Developing Mediated Market Models to Increase Consumer Engagement and Market Access for New England Farmers
University of New Hampshire
University of New Hampshire will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and mentoring for New England farmers and stakeholders to share strategies for reducing marketing labor and increasing market access through collaborative, mediated market models; a consumer survey will supplement the sharable knowledge.
Education and On-farm Research to Advance Agroforestry for Climate Resilience for Northeast Farmers
Dartmouth College Agroforestry Transition Hub
The Agroecology Lab at Dartmouth College will build a small nursery for tree propagation for agroforestry adoption. We will run a series of 10-week courses for early adopters of agroforestry in the northeast to practitioners to aid in agroforestry adoption and track their transitions.
Optimizing the Economic Return of Pasture-Raised Slow-growth and Conventional Broilers
Regenerative Organic Dry Bean Production in the Northeast
Cornell University will expand organic dry bean production as part of a regenerative cropping system in the Northeast. This will be achieved via the creation of a farmer community of practice as well as generation and dissemination of research-based information on best agronomic practices.
Increasing Capacity to Produce High-Quality, Regionally Adapted Seed to Enhance Northeast Biosecurity and Diversify Markets for Vegetable Growers
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Northeast farmers and seed keepers are interested in increasing seed production for on-farm, community, and commercial use. By training farmers in horticulture and economics of seed, and making learning cohorts, Cornell Cooperative Extension will increase capacity for seed production and distribution in the northeast.
Immigrant Urban Farmer’s Project
International Rescue Committee
The Immigrant Urban Farmer’s Project will support immigrant community members interested in working in the agriculture industry as new or beginning farmers, by providing comprehensive, hands-on training and mentorship. Courses will provide transferable skills, applicable in urban or rural settings.
Capturing Value with Cereal Rye: Growing High Quality Rye in the Northeast for Value-Added Markets
University of Vermont Extension
In the Northeast, cereal rye is common as a cover crop. However, increasing demand for rye grain has many farmers interested in pursuing value-add markets for this cover crop. This project will develop agronomic, end-use quality, and marketing information to help farmers gain access to new markets.
Online Educational ‘Hub’ for Migrant Farmworkers
University of Vermont Extension
University of Vermont Extension will establish and maintain an online educational "hub" for Spanish speaking migrant farmworkers. This project will facilitate enrollment, provide technology and instruction. Content will focus on enhancing work-based communication, farm safety, and technical skills required for the modern dairy farm.
Scaling Northeastern Agroforestry using a Farmer-centered Field Consultancy Model
Utilizing a farmer-centered framework, Interlace Commons will work with ten farms across the northeast to help them identify and design an agroforestry practice that meets specified conservation and production objectives.
Supporting New High-Tunnel Vegetable Growers with a Comprehensive Crop Management Approach
University of Vermont
Insect, disease, soil fertility and crop management in high tunnels are different from field production, demanding specific skills to ensure crop quality and yield. Growers new to high tunnels will receive goal-based guidance and an information toolkit to adopt integrated management strategies.
Improving Honeybees Through Local Queen Rearing, Selection, and Controlled Mating via Artificial Insemination
Penn State University
Penn State University will advance honeybee husbandry by training beekeepers in colony assessment, queen rearing, and artificial insemination. All participants will sell northern queens and select participants will provide insemination services, both improving genetics in the region and their earning potential.
Novel Approaches Grants
The Research for Novel Approaches in Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program funds “proof of concept” projects. These projects aim to confirm the benefit and/or feasibility of experimentally viable practices and approaches with high potential for adoption by farmers.
These practices and approaches may be related to production, marketing, business management, or other topics related to sustainable agriculture. Research may be conducted through field trials, laboratory experiments and social science investigations.
Investigating Dual-use Solar for Wild Blueberry Farms in Maine
University of Maine
University of Maine will evaluate the impact of solar construction on wild blueberry and the long-term ability of wild blueberries to produce commercially under a solar array in collaboration with several farmers.
Covering Ground: Assessing Effectiveness of Interseeding Cover Crops in Late Season Vegetable Crops to Enhance Soil Health in the Northeast
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
University of Maine Cooperative Extension will assess timing of seeding, seeding methods, and species selection for interseeding in order to assist Northeast vegetable farmers to plant more cover crop acres.
Development of a rapid, inexpensive assay for farm-based detection of four pathogenic Vibrio strains linked to shellfish hatchery failures
Mook Sea Farm
Mook Sea Farm will develop and commercialize loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for fast, inexpensive farm-based detection of virulence marker genes of four Vibrio species linked to shellfish hatchery failures. The assays and easy-to-use guide will help hatcheries reduce loss from pathogens.
Using unoccupied aerial vehicles for application of fertilizers to cranberry bogs in Massachusetts
USDA-ARS will evaluate the use of unoccupied aerial vehicles to apply granular fertilizer to cranberry bogs, comparing their efficiency and uniformity against current agronomic practices, including ground applications with backpack-type broadcast spreaders and aerial applications via helicopters.
Exploring novel natural products for the development of push-pull systems to manage spotted-wing drosophila
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, will develop an innovative push-pull approach for spotted-wing drosophila (SWD) that combines repellent, oviposition deterrent, and/or natural toxins with existing attract-and-kill tactics to reduce reliance on insecticide use by implementing sustainable IPM strategies in the Northeast
Foliar Nickel fertilizer nutrition to enhance cranberry yield and decrease fungicide use
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Evaluate the application of foliar nickel fertilizer is as a sustainable method for increasing crop yield, supplementing control for fruit and leaf pathogens, decreasing urea nitrogen application, and improving cranberry plant tolerance to abiotic stress from rising salinity and temperature.
The Use of Biochar in Agroforestry to Promote Soil Microbial Health, Tree Productivity, and Carbon Sequestration
Arthur's Point Farm
A quantitative evaluation of biochar treatments on soil microbial health, tree growth and vigor, and carbon sequestration in a newly established chestnut grove interplanted with black locust for the purpose of informing optimal management practices in similar agroforestry systems.
Development of above and below ground strategies using entomopathogenic fungi and RNAi technologies for the control root crop pests
University of Vermont
Assess the efficacy of both cultured entomopathogenic fungi and RNAi technologies for the control of wireworms and Colorado potato beetle in root crops.
Biochar from Biosolids and Source Separated Human Urine: Soil Health Impacts and Farmer Perspectives
Rich Earth Institute
Investigate novel human-waste-derived soil amendments, by conducting field trials to test the soil health impact of urine, biomass biochar, and biosolids biochar (in comparison to conventional and organic amendments), and farmer interviews.
Vertical Bifacial Solar Panels: A Winning Solution for Agrivoltaics and Farmers
Bruce L. Parker
University of Vermont
Showcase a highly efficient farming-friendly solar agrivoltaic system using innovative vertical bifacial solar panels for the first time in the US. Data gathered will quantify the economic, agricultural and environmental advantages of this system for Northeastern farmers.
Culturally Meaningful, Regionally Adapted Seed: Making the Ujamaa Cooperative Farmers Alliance Market Ready
University of Vermont
Support the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance (UCFA), a collective of BIPOC seed growers, to enhance the market viability of culturally meaningful, regionally adapted seed in the Northeast to strengthen the cultural appropriateness and climate resilience of the food system.
Professional Development Grants
The Northeast SARE Professional Development Grant Program funds train-the-trainer projects that develop and share knowledge across the full range of service providers who work with farmers. These service providers then use the awareness, skills and attitudes they gain in their work with farmers.
Reducing Tensions on Market Day: Training Farmers' Market Organizers and Service Providers on Conflict Resolution and De-escalation Strategies
Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets
Train Maine and Vermont farmers market organizers, volunteers, board members and service providers to improve their management interactions with market vendors and customers through a series of professional development strategies.
Designing Multifunctional Buffers to Improve Farm Viability in the Berkshire-Taconic Region of MA, NY, and CT
Berkshire Agricultural Ventures
Equip agricultural service providers with knowledge of new options for multifunctional buffers (for-profit & pollinator habitat focused) to drive farmer adoption of riparian buffers, increase farm viability, and reduce agricultural nonpoint source pollution in the project area.
The Greater Newark Sustainable Farming Practices and Local Entrepreneurship Program
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
An intensive experiential workshop and demo program to train service providers in the Greater Newark region with knowledges in traditional Indigenous farming practices and medicinal herbs, seed saving, soil testing, composting, and other sustainable farming methods and local entrepreneurship.
Northeast Pollinator Partnership – A Program to Educate Agricultural Service Providers About the Biology, Importance, and Conservation of Wild Bees
Training of agricultural service providers about (1) the biology and diversity of native bees, (2) the threats to wild bees in agroecosystems, and (3) the best management practices to maintain healthy wild bee populations for effective fruit tree pollination.
Sprout School: Developing a Comprehensive Farm to School Toolkit for Central Appalachia
Future Generations University
Sprout School trains educators, nutrition personnel, and traditional service providers in a framework to build the impact of West Virginia Farm-to-School operations through delivery of multi-media lessons, in-person workshops, best practice-based field trips, and applicable project implementation.
Farmer Grant projects address questions directly linked to improved profits, better stewardship, and stronger rural communities. Participating farmers work with a technical advisor – often an extension agent, crop consultant, or service professional – to seek knowledge other farmers can use.
Germination Testing to Improve the Quality of Ecotypic Native Seed in the Northeast
The Hickories, LLC
Eco59, a farmer-led seed collective, will use extensive germination testing to determine optimal timing for the harvest of ecotypic native seed, an emerging market in the Northeast. This project aims to create a baseline data set for analyzing seed quality of Northeast native seed crops.
Automated Drainage Water Management for Improved Precision, Yield, and Water Quality
Twin Cedar Ag
The Drainage Water Management (DWM) project offers significant potential to improve water quality. The Drainage Water Management system will be installed alongside an automated system to allow us the opportunity to collect data to make a comparison in efficiency and management decisions.
Improving Pastured Broiler Operations for Chickens and Farmers: Automating Feed Systems on Mobile Pasture Coops and Sharing the Results
Using existing knowledge and pastured poultry housing, develop and build a prototype for a mobile coop that can house grain storage and feed automatically, while maintaining mobility on various terrains, thereby improving production, labor efficiency, and accessibility of a pasture-based model.
Efficient Leaf-dense Tree/Shrub Silage Production from Field Edges: Climate-resilient Winter Forage Supplement for Cattle, Sheep, and Goats
3 Streams Farm
Produce nutrient-dense silage from broadleaf trees and shrubs at field edges, using power-tools and new chain-flail leaf-separator; Trial how much ruminants will eat as winter supplement; and Assess feasibility of nutrition per labor and costs, to reduce climate risk on Northeastern farms.
Get the Fish Out: Black Soldier Fly Larvae and Marine Macro-algae as Feed Ingredient Replacements for Small Land-based Aquaculture Operations
Canopy Farms L3C
Determine the efficacy of replacing fish meal in aquaculture diets with alternative proteins and ingredients. Fly larvae, macro-algae, brewery byproducts, and earthworms will be used as alternatives. Rainbow trout growth will be used to compare alternative and fish meal-based feed.
Field Testing the Viability of 3D-printed Oyster Farm Equipment
Winnegance Oyster Farm
Build and field-trial 3D printed oyster bags made from four different materials in order to test their suitability for prototyping experimental sea farming equipment.
Determining the Effect of Tree Pruning and Nutritional Inputs on a Neglected Chestnut Orchard
Morris Orchard LLC
Study the effect of tree pruning and improved nutrition on production and soil health in a neglected chestnut orchard. The farmer will share results on the efficacy of these activities on restoring a 60 year old chestnut orchard to encourage others with mature orchards.
Improving Soil Tilth and Productivity with Mycorrhizal and Saprophytic Fungi
Goat Plum Tree Farm, LLC
Mycelia of fungi species paddy straw, almond agaricus, parasol, shaggy mane, and blewit will increase soil porosity of clay rich soil thus helping plants' roots to reach their potential, and improve crop productivity.
Ground cherries: improving harvesting efficiency and defining marketing measures
Serenity Grove Farm
Evaluate using an inverted ‘V” bed design to reduce harvest labor cost to increase profitability for small farms to grow. The yield conversations between unhusked fruit and whole husked fruit will also be determined.
Nature’s Colors: Exploring the Production and Profitability of Natural Dyes in Baltimore
Blue Light Junction
In 2019, the Baltimore Natural Dye Initiative was born, a visionary project that leverages Baltimore’s strong urban ag and social entrepreneurship sectors to build the city as a national leader in the natural dye market. As project lead, Kenya Miles is spearheading the project’s next phase: training
For the Love of Legumes: Sustainable Urban Micro-scale Grains and Dried Beans on a Demonstration Farm in Baltimore City
Farm Alliance of Baltimore
Urban farmers Denzel Mitchell and Myeasha Taylor, and Technical Advisor, Marcus Williams of UMD-Extension, will conduct a 2-year trial of small grains and dried beans on FAB's demonstration farm, showing trainee and experienced urban farmers that these crops can be grown using sustainable methods.
Foliar Application of Kaolin Clay to Manage Pest and Diseases in Day Neutral Strawberry
Carniola Farms Inc
Demonstrate that Kaolin clay spray can be applied to strawberries to prevent disease and control pests, in lieu of toxic synthetic chemicals.
The Oysterbot: Developing a Ropeless Bottom Cage Retrieval System for Nearshore Oyster Farms
Blue Stream Shellfish LLC
Develop a remotely operated vehicle (OysterBot) to identify and attach a lifting line to ropeless oyster cages in >15 feet of water to prevent entanglement of marine megafauna in vertical lines attached to nearshore oyster cages and protect farmers from accidental entanglement on deck.
Gracilaria Seaweed Aquaculture Farm Grow-out, Harvest, and Marketing
Martino's Seafood, LLC
Create market research survey and tastings, source Gracilaria seed from a hatchery, plant Gracilaria seed onto grow lines and document growth/harvest rates.
Farm and Conservation Land for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Self Determination and Sovereignty in Rural Massachusetts
The Farm School
Farmland for Black Indigenous People of Color in Rural MA is key to broadening the scope of agricultural and educational research and practices of sustainability. Nonprofits, Land Trusts, Conservationist and Legislators come together to define policies leading to BIPOC land ownership and access.
Establishment and Evaluation of Founder Plots for Native Seed Production
Native Plant Trust
Design and install 5 founder plots to test and evaluate the potential for native seed production for a wide range of stakeholders. Document best practices for installation and production and share our results widely.
Transferred Mulch System for Organic Reduced Tillage Vegetable Production
Simple Gifts Farm
Help farmers optimize their transferred mulch system by measuring dry matter and nutrient composition of applied mulch, the nitrogen availability in a crop field under the mulch, and soil health indicators over time.
Agroforestry Production of Rare Medicinal Herbs in New Hampshire
Green Hill Farm
Research four native medicinal herbs to grow in New Hampshire that will meet a current demand for these herbs while reducing unsustainable wild foraging, the need of importing foreign stock, and building a sustainable agroforestry business.
Grafting Heritage African Eggplants for Disease Control and Enhanced Production
World Crops Farm
Heritage African Eggplants are not bred to resist root diseases that kill or greatly reduce production. Grafting onto disease resistant rootstocks offers a potential solution to overcome yield limiting diseases.
Comparison of Farm-produced and Commercial Microorganism Inoculants: Cost, Nutrients, and Biological Constituents
Unadilla Community Farm Education Center, Inc.
Korean Natural Farming techniques are used to create “indigenous microorganism” inoculants using local materials, which are quantified based on biological and chemical components and compared to compost and a commercial mycorrhizal fungi inoculant. Costs of each method are compared.
An Illustrated Guide to Value Adding: Rules, Regulations & Good Ideas
Letterbox Farm Collective
Gather the rules & regulations relevant to value adding from all of the various regulatory departments & summarize them in an easy to ready, illustrated guide. The guide will include case studies of successful value-add ventures for chicken, beef, pork & veggies.
Establishing Willow and Poplar Tree Fodder Blocks for Resilient Livestock Feed and Flood Mitigation in a Silvopasture Riparian Buffer
Wellspring Forest Farm
Tree fodder blocks are dense plantings of trees that provide a strategic reserve of feed for excessively dry, drought, or even overly wet conditions. Wellspring Forest Farm will test several establishment processes for willow and poplar to determine the costs and effectiveness on tree survival and growth.
Solving the Agroforestry Cash Flow Gap: Intercropping Short Term Cash Crops During Tree Crop Establishment
Whistle Down Farm
Trial 10 different crops intercropped in row with newly planted fruit and nut trees. The goal is to determine which crops are most effective in this system to provide early returns as trees are establishing, and serve as a working demonstration site for other farms.
Traditional Tortilla Maize Cultivation in New York’s Hudson Valley: Evaluating Viability of Heirloom Cultivars from Mexico and Central America
SunRunner Farm LLC
Traditional Mexican and Central American heirloom maize varieties used expressly for tortilla elaboration are generally photoperiod sensitivity. SunRunner Farm will test the viability of several varieties that have shown promise during prior informal trials in New York's Hudson Valley.
Sustainable Microgreens Packaging
Research and test new packaging, designing and printing new labels, and ultimately marketing and distributing the newly packaged produce.
Determining the Biggest Bang for our (Time) Buck: Dealing with Fall Brassica Diseases in High Humidity Environments
Compare interactions between three fungicide application frequencies across nine cultural control strategies, including pest exclusion fabrics to determine if with high rates of fall disease pressure and rising hourly labor costs, what combinations are most effective and financially viable.
Clonal Production of Hybrid Chestnuts via Stool Bed Layering to Improve Overall Orchard Quality
Z's Nutty Ridge LLC
Many new chestnut orchards are being planted using seedlings and superior seedlings need to be cloned for increased farm profitability. Z’s Nutty Ridge will identify the hormone requirement necessary to successfully bring stool bed layering, a practice shown to be successful in Europe, to the NE US.
Techniques for Growing and Overwintering Japanese Fig Tree Espalier in the Northeast
Boyer Holdings LLC
Explore growing figs using Japanese Stepover Espalier technique inside high tunnels. The espalier's cordons will be grown directly on the soil for ease of mulching in winter. Additional winter protection using Eliot Coleman-style row covers will be utilized inside the high tunnel.
Organic and Biological Control of Colorado Potato Beetle
In-field evaluation of the use of guineafowl and hand-picking to control Colorado Potato Beetle and improve potato yield.
Piloting a Year-round Sliding-scale CSA and Unified Online Management System to Improve Food Access
Bread and Butter Farm
Use an efficient and convenient online system for member services, inventory management, and synced financial data as a foundation for operating a sliding scale CSA with on-farm and remote distribution sites.
Enhancing Health Benefits of Pasture Raised Lamb, Pork, and Chicken Utilizing Organic Fish Hydrolysate and Compost Supplementation
Improvement of nutritional value and enriched production of pork, lamb, and chicken evaluated utilizing regenerative rotational grazing of grasses with microbiome enhanced by organic fish hydrolysate and compost. Soil health and vegetative advantages will also be examined.
Evaluating Weed Suppression for Saffron Production: Manual, Flame Weeding, Tarping, and Cover Crops
Hobby Hill Farm
Evaluate the use of sileage tarps, low-growing clover (a cover crop), buckwheat (a taller cover crop and soil improver) and manual weeding to determine their costs and impacts on the production of saffron in a no-spray environment.
Analysis of Organic Matter and Pipe Depth in a Geothermal Climate Battery High Tunnel
T. L. Fruits and Vegetables LLC
Examine two key factors in heating and cooling a large geothermal climate battery high tunnel: the underground pipe placement depth and the organic matter (gravel vs soil) surrounding the pipes.