Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program

Welcome to the Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) website! The purpose of this website is to help you find information on SARE local, regional and national programs, grants and resources. It also provides updates on relevant news and events going on in Iowa and affecting Iowa agriculture. Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program has advanced profitable and environmentally sound farming systems that are good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program.

Iowa SARE PDP Program State Initiatives

  • Building Leadership, Communication, and Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture
  • Implementing Diversified Production and Marketing Systems
  • Scaling up and Strengthening Local Foods Systems
  • Addressing Issues in Soil Health, Water Quality, Energy and Climate
  • Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers

Funding Currently Accepting Proposals

  • NCR-SARE’s 2021 Research and Education Grant Program (Preproposals): The North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Research and Education (R&E) Grant Program is a competitive grant program for researchers and educators involved in projects that explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible food and/or fiber systems.  Individual grants range from $50,000 to $250,000. NCR-SARE expects to fund about 13 projects in the twelve-state North Central region. See NC-SARE Research and Education Grant ProgramCloses October 8, 2020.
  • NCR-SARE’s 2021 Partnership Grant Program: NCR-SARE’s Partnership Grant program is intended to foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture.  Individual grants are limited to $40,000.  NCR-SARE expects to fund about 14 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region. See NC-SARE Partnership Grant Program. Closes October 22, 2020.

  • NCR-SARE’s 2021 Youth Educator Grant: NCR-SARE recognizes that youth programs are a way to introduce new and exciting farming and ranching options to youth, parents, and community members. The Youth Educator program provides opportunities for youth to learn about Sustainable Agriculture (farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible). Youth Educator grants support projects by youth educators that encourage youth to try sustainable practices and explore sustainable agriculture as a viable career option. Individual grants are limited to $4,000. See NC-SARE Youth Educator Grant Program. Closes November 12, 2020.

Iowans Who Received NCR SARE Grant Funding in 2019-2020


  • IA Evaluating Direct to Consumer Marketing of Midwest Grown Hops.(Keri Byrum of Cedar Falls Hops Cedar Falls, IA) 2019.
  • Development and Testing of a Drainable Floating Fish Tank for Fish Culture in Deep Water Bodies. (Jim Frey of Jim Frey Fish Hatchery in West Union, IA) 2019.
  • Local Meal Kits: CSA Adaptation for Sustainability. (Jan Libbey of One Step at a Time Gardens in Kanawha, IA) 2019.


  • SILT Development and Implementation of Iowa Landowners Guide to Sustainable Food Crops. (Suzan Erem of Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) in West Branch, IA) 2019.
  • Women Farmland Owners as Sustainability Ambassadors: Educating Farmers and other Landowners to Make Changes. (Bridget Holcomb of Women, Food, and Agriculture Network in Ames, IA) 2019.
  • Full Trucks for Higher Profits: Transportation Collaboration among Farmers and Food Hubs in the Midwest. (Jason Grimm of Iowa Valley RC&D in Amana, IA) 2020
  • Seed Rematriation Using a Participatory Conservation Model. (Philip Kauth of the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA) 2020
  • Stories that Sell: A Robust Communications Toolkit for Sustainable Ag Farmers and Ranchers. (Ahna Kruzic of the Women, Food & Agriculture Network in Ames, IA) 2020

Research and Education and Professional Development:

  • Reuniting the Three Sisters: Native American Intercropping and Soil Health. (Christina Gish Hill with Iowa State University) 2019.
  • Towards Widespread Adoption of Prairie Conservation Strips: Case Studies Increase Expertise of Professional Farm Managers, Landowners, and Farmers. (Ashley Kittle with the Tallgrass Prairie Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa) 2019.

Graduate Student Grant:

  • A Comparative Analysis of Iowa Watershed Organizations: Structure, Function, and Social Infrastructure. (Andrea Wagner along with Dr. Monica Haddad at Iowa State University) 2019.

Professional Development Program:

  • Supporting Sustainable Small-Scale Animal Agriculture through Development of Biological Risk Management Educational Materials. (Renee Dewell with Iowa State University) 2019.
  • Training Extension Professionals, High School Educators, and Local Food Coordinators on Basic and Advanced Aspects of Sustainable Vegetable Production. (Ajay Nair with Iowa State University) 2019.
  • Expanding and Diversifying Farmer-Educator Capacity through Ambassador Academies. (Sally Worley with Practical Farmers of Iowa) 2019.

Youth Educator Grants:

  • Establishing an Uncommon Orchard with Native Plant Understory. (Mark Quee with Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, IA) 2020

You can learn more about the progress of these projects later this year and previous projects funded through SARE by searching the SARE data base at:


SARE Feature

Why is soil health so important? More and more, producers are understanding that healthy soils are more productive and lead to healthier crops. Dig into this interactive infographic to learn more about sustainable production practices that can help build healthy soil. Explore the on-farm benefits of using cover crops, crop rotation, manure amendments, composting and more on the complex web of life below the surface of the soil.

Check out this interactive tool on SARE's website!