Thursday, April 29, 2010

“Bean” planning to do educational outreach on your farm???

One of the two main crops grown in the US is Soybeans. (For those of you not familiar with what a soybean plant looks like: they are the shorter, bushier appearing plant you’ll see this summer as you drive around the country side. As opposed to corn which grows tall and has a tassel on top.) Last year US farmers planted 77.5 million acres to soybeans. While you may think soybeans are only grown for animal feed you should know that soybeans and soy oils are daily being researched and developed into renewable alternatives for the production of energy and chemicals. Did you know soy oil is used in crayons, candles and jet fuel? The soy oil is used in place of petroleum oil which helps conserve fossil fuels. In the state of Indiana more than 28,000 farmers grow soybeans, and yet I felt the need to explain at the beginning of this blog post what a soybean looked like because there are a lot of people out there who may not know what a soybean is.

The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) offers grants to Indiana farmers who have projects that would educate and communicate a positive message about agriculture in their area. This grant would fund projects that would reach out to the non-ag community; and engage them with opportunities to learn more about farming practices. Producers could develop websites, host farm tours, food drives, school kids and more as an effort to explain their production practices and their way of life. These types of farm outreach programs are important as people understand where their food comes from and how fortunate we are to have such a safe and affordable food supply.

This ISA grant is available to organizations and individuals; applications are accepted on an on-going basis, however you need to apply at least one month prior to the projects start date. Funding will not exceed half of the estimated costs associated with the project and the application can be found at

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day!!!

In case you didn’t already know; today is Earth Day. Earth Day is a day to be more aware and appreciative of the Earth's environment. I would argue that for a Farmer; every day is Earth Day. Perhaps you have heard that statement before but, when you stop and think about it, everyday Farmers’ are consciously making an effort to utilize their cropland the best way possible. Many farmers use conservation practices to lessen the amount of soil erosion and run off in their fields. With that being said, I’ll get back to grants and mention an opportunity for creating a “greenway” in your town/area.

The Conservation Fund, in partnership with Eastman Kodak and the National Geographic Society, provides “Greenway Grants” as small grants to stimulate the planning and design of greenways in communities across the United States. Grants may be used for activities such as mapping, ecological assessments, surveying, conferences, design activities, developing brochures and interpretative displays, public opinion surveys, hiring consultants, incorporating land trusts, building foot bridges, planning bike paths, or other creative projects. In general, grants can be used for all appropriate expenses needed to complete, expand, or improve a greenway project, including planning, technical assistance, legal, and other costs. Grants may not be used for academic research, general institutional support, lobbying, or political activities. Awards will be made primarily to local, regional, or statewide nonprofit organizations. Public agencies may also apply. Most grants will range from $500 to $1,000 each. The maximum grant amount is $2,500. Applications are due June 15, 2010 and for more details and the application visit:

Friday, April 16, 2010

SARE Grant for Research and Education?!?! ….just ask the farm girl

Research in agriculture is a strong component of the industry’s continued efficiencies in production, while also addressing environmentally, economically and socially responsible practices. I have become more familiar with some aspects of ag research through my husbands work, but before I get to that; I wanted to tell you about the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant for Research and Education Programs.

The SARE Research & Education Grant Program provides funds to collaborative teams of scientists, farmers, institutions, organizations, and educators who are exploring sustainable agriculture through in-depth research projects or education/demonstration projects. Additionally, proposed projects should focus on farm and ranch profitability, marketing sustainable agriculture products and include a strong outreach component.

Grant funds range from $10,000 to 200,000. The North Central SARE grant is open to 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Pre-proposals are due on June 11, 2010. More information regarding this grant and the application can be found at:

To close I wanted to share a fun story about my husband. As I previously mentioned he does research for an Agri-chemical company and one day last summer I went out with him to look at some of his trials (fields). We walked out into a soybean field that had been planted with two different types of soybean seed. Once we reached the point in the field where it was divided between the two trials he asked me which side looked better. (Now, before I go any further in this story I have to tell you; I’m a farm girl. I grew up around corn and soybeans. I have heard many a conversation by farmers or even my own family talking about how their soybeans looked, if they had soybean aphids, when they started to turn yellow, how big or small the pods were and on and on.) To my left the soybeans were shorter, had some little holes in the leaves from pest damage, and looked to have fewer seed pods. To my right the soybeans were taller, greener, a lot more seed pods that were fuller looking and just an overall more vivacious looking plant. So, obviously… I picked the ones on the right. My husband agreed and the next day at work he was reporting his findings to his co-workers and said to them, “Even my wife, and her untrained eye, knew which soybeans were superior.”
Untrained eye!?!? All I can say is… it’s a good thing he asked (and married) a farm girl….

Friday, April 9, 2010

Well I was born in a small town… And I can breathe in a small town

Just like the John Mellencamp song says: “I’ve seen it all in a small town, had myself a ball in a small town.” I grew up in one such small town in North Central, Indiana and can safely say the older I get the more I like small town, rural America. Where else can you walk down the street and know over half of the people you see? Where else can you eat at the local diner and get all the latest news and gossip? Small towns have such a sense of pride in their community, their schools, and any other thing that makes their town unique. That’s why this weeks blog post features grants that specifically aid projects in those small town, rural areas.

USDA’s definition of rural is; any area other than a city with a population greater than 50,000.

USDA- Rural Business Opportunity Grant promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs through provision of training and technical assistance for business development, entrepreneurs and economic development officials to assist with economic development planning. Eligible applicants include rural public bodies, rural non profit corporations and cooperatives with primarily rural members. Applications are due June 28, 2010 and for more information you can visit this website and check with your USDA Rural Development State office,

USDA-New Era Rural Technology Competitive Grant Program is for technology development, applied research and/or training to develop an agriculture based renewable energy workforce. Funding will be used to enable community colleges and advanced technological centers located in rural areas to strengthen the Nation’s technical, scientific and professional workforce in the fields of bioenergy, pulp and paper manufacturing and ag based renewable energy resources. Applications are due April 14th, 2010 and more information can be found at

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