The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program provides a wealth of information about growing food and fiber in ways that improve farm profitability, protect natural resources and support rural communities. The program offers a wide selection of free books and other publications that are reader-friendly and available online at SARE’s website. SARE also offers grants to researchers, educators and students, in addition to farmers and ranchers.
In 1988, the USDA launched the first iteration of SARE as a science-based, grass-roots program that focused on providing grants and education with an appropriation of $3.9 million. SARE was poised to go where no grant program had gone before — the fields and farms of innovative producers who would help find solutions to their own problems ranging from soil fertility to pest control to marketing.
Four regional administrative councils, selected from the audiences SARE sought to serve, invested the grant funds into 30 projects during the first year, mostly involving professional researchers working with individual producers. Since then, SARE has funded more than 4,000 projects. Along with the original grants intended for research faculty, there are now grant opportunities for farmers and ranchers, graduate students, agricultural educators, nonprofit organizations, and community activists.
SARE-funded research provided much of the scientific foundation for the organic food movement. Other projects helped launch community supported agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers markets from coast to coast. Some have connected farmers with chefs or school lunch coordinators. Others have produced information that resulted in farm-friendly policy changes. SARE grantees have moved alternative practices such as cover cropping, rotational grazing and composting into the mainstream. In fact, advancing the principles of sustainable agriculture to the whole of American agriculture is SARE’s mission for the next 20 years.
Simply visit SARE’s website to access all of the great information SARE provides to help you bring sustainable practices to your homestead, farm, school, market and community.