Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From the Ground Up: Soil comes to life in the Classroom

by: Raylene Nickel

Soil comes to life in the classroom of vocational agriculture teacher Marcus Lewton at South Heart High School, South Heart, North Dakota. His creative teaching tools, contained in a soil-quality tool kit, unveil to students the microscopic citizens of the soil, such as fungi and bacteria. Students also learn the critical role of all microorganisms in soil and plant health.
For high school senior Michael Zarak, whose parents farm and ranch near South Heart, learning about soil builds a foundation for the future.

“It’s important for young people to learn about soil so we will have that knowledge if we do decide to get into farming,” he says.
Zarak’s new view of soil learned from Lewton drew him to educational events where he saw the benefits of cover crops.
“I didn’t know that you could plant all this different stuff after harvesting cash crops,” he says. “I learned that all these different types of cover crops really help out the soil and make the ground more productive.”
Making the connection between healthy soil and robust crops was Lewton’s aim when he conceived the idea of creating soil-health test kits for use in vocational agricultural classrooms. Each kit contains simple tools for vo-ag teachers to use to illustrate characteristics and processes of soil.

Lewton got the idea for the kits while attending a soil-health seminar for vo-ag teachers. The seminar presenter, USDA-ARS soil microbiologist Kristine Nichols, showed participants how to use inexpensive, homemade tools to demonstrate various soil-quality aspects. She also presented instructions showing how to build the tools, how to use them, and how to interpret the results.
Drawing ideas from Nichols and other soil-health sources, Lewton designed a simple soil-health test kit for use in vo-ag classrooms. He then got a grant from the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. With help from the high school’s shop classes, Lewton and his students built 100 kits for vo-ag teachers in North Dakota and 60 kits for instructors in Minnesota.
Each kit includes PVC pipe, sponges, nitrate strips, and Styrofoam cups. Also included are instructions telling how to use the tools to demonstrate characteristics and processes of soil.
“Soil health can be a boring subject for high school students,” Lewton says. “But this kit makes it more exciting.”
One test, the Soil Clod Test, demonstrates differences in the aggregate formation of soil that is stable vs. soil that easily falls apart.
Students drop clods of soil into jars of water and note its response to water and gentle shaking. This invites discussion of how soil structure impacts soil functions such as air and water flow, biological activity in soil, and nutrient cycling.
To demonstrate water-infiltration differences among soils and to link these to management practices, Lewton’s students take soil samples from a pasture, a no-till field, and a field in a fallow-crop rotation.
“We put each soil sample in a 5-ounce cup, filling each cup to the same level,” Lewton says. “We then drop equal amounts of water in each cup and watch the water infiltrate the soil. The water in the pasture sample always soaks in faster than the water in the other soil samples.”

Adding an element of competition makes the lesson more interesting and further illustrates differences in water-infiltration capabilities of soil. The game involves predicting which of two soil samples has the best water infiltration. One of the soil samples comes from clay-based pasture hills and the other comes from a heavily tilled garden.
“The students usually predict the garden soil will win. But the clay soil from the pasture always wins,” Lewton says. “The game breaks down stereotypes that kids have about soil and shows the effect tillage can have on water infiltration.”
As vo-ag teachers put Lewton’s soil-health test kits to work in their classrooms, students across North Dakota and Minnesota will learn similar lessons about soil quality.
“These kids are the farmers of the future,” Lewton says. “By teaching them about soil health and soil quality, we’re giving them the tools they need to make choices that will improve the sustainability of their land.” 

To read more about Lewton's NCR-SARE Youth Educator project, visit the SARE reporting website at:

Winter Not the End of Nature’s Bounty for NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Recipient

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune
By Cathy Salter

With our own meadow garden now fully at rest, Kit and I continue to find our kitchen filled with greens and vegetables. Seems impossible this could be so given the fact that December is on the horizon. But this is the magic of belonging to a winter subscription farm, or CSA (community-supported agriculture). From October to April, Jennifer and Keith Grabner from Wintergreen Farm deliver a box of fresh greens and vegetables to our door late every Friday afternoon.

I first met Jenny when she and her colleague Lesli Moylan began a schoolyard garden at Ashland’s Southern Boone Elementary School, two miles east of Boomerang Creek. The garden, a volunteer operation, has grown to be an integral part of the life of both the elementary school’s curriculum over the past three years and has earned the support of the community, as well as local and state legislators.

It also was recently featured in The Geography Teacher magazine, a publication of the National Council for Geographic Education, along with first lady Michelle Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden and organic chef Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard Garden in Berkeley, Calif.

When the Southern Boone Learning Garden is in operation, Jenny and Lesli visit classrooms and hold after-school garden classes twice a week, teaching children their peas and cucumbers by putting them to work planting, harvesting and cooking up what they grow.

Like others from the community and school who help out, they are volunteers.

This would be quite enough time in the garden for most mortals, but Jenny is cut from that amazing cloth from whence farmers come. With the help of her husband, Keith, and their three children, she has made gardening and backyard organic farming not only her own passion but also a family operation.

Their family garden, Wintergreen Farm, is located on 5 acres off Route MM near Ashland, just a hoot and holler from Boomerang Creek. Jenny and Keith use small, unheated hoop-style greenhouses (cold frames) to grow greens and vegetables throughout the fall, winter and early spring months.

The cool-season crops include several varieties of lettuce, spinach, chard, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, green onions, leeks, mustards, collards, arugula, bok choy, several Asian greens and cabbages, and a few herbs, including parsley, cilantro, fennel, dill and chives.

They also try to include a few winter storage crops such as garlic, potatoes, winter squashes, onions and sweet potatoes.

The last week of October, we received our first e-mail announcing the beginning of this year’s winter CSA. Jenny and Keith listed what would be in the veggie box for the first week — butternut squash, sweet potatoes, lettuce and mixed Asian greens.

The second Friday, our box contained red-leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, baby carrots, golden Hubbard squash and cilantro. We also had a few other items offered on a first-come, first-served basis — shiitake mushrooms, fresh eggs (“if the ladies are laying”) and rabbit meat. And should we need some ideas on cooking up a Hubbard squash or collard greens, Wintergreen Farm’s website includes recipes to get us started.

As I write, chunks of Hubbard squash are simmering in a soup pot on the stove along with a butternut squash delivered the first week. Combined with onion, red bell pepper, pear, apple, ginger and chicken broth, they will purée into a golden harvest soup served with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of Spanish paprika.

While the soup is cooking, Jenny’s latest e-mail arrives with this week’s harvest — turnip greens, Chinese cabbage, mixed salad greens, Tokyo turnips or radishes, parsley or cilantro, and more butternut squash. I’m already dancing as fast as I can looking up creative recipes for the bounty that will arrive on Friday.

So, let the first snow fall white on our meadow garden. Our kitchen will be filled with local greens all winter long.

To read more about the Grabners' NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant project, visit the SARE online reporting site at:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Organics 101: An Introduction to Organic Crop Production

Source: Wilmington News Journal

The strong demand for organic food presents a growing opportunity for Ohio farmers. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and the Ohio State University Organic Food & Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program will present “Organics 101: An Introduction to Organic Crop Production.” This educational workshop will be held at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation in Bowling Green on Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All Ohio farmers who are looking for information on organic crop production are encouraged to attend this workshop. The program will include presentations by OSU research scientists and extension educators, organic farmers and organic certification representatives. Participants will learn about the organic certification standard, the certification process, organic crop production practices, the economics of organic crop production and the marketing opportunities for organic crop producers. University scientists and experienced organic farmers will lead sessions on these and other topics and will answer questions from participants.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in the demand for organic foods over the past decade,” said Mike Anderson of OEFFA. “More and more Ohio farmers are considering organic production to help meet this demand and take advantage of the economic opportunity that it provides. Working together with one of the finest agricultural research institutions in the country, the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC), we will be able to provide Ohio farmers who are interested in transitioning to organic the information that they need to be successful.”

Cost of the workshop is $30, which includes lunch. Registration information should be sent to Mike Anderson, OEFFA, 41 Croswell Road, Columbus, Ohio 43214.

For more information, go to or contact Anderson at 614-421-2022 ext. 204 or Walk-ins welcome, but pre-registration is encouraged.

The Agricultural Incubator Foundation is located at 13737 Middleton Pike, Bowling Green.

Organics 101 is presented with funding provided by the USDA’s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR SARE).

Whole Farm Cooperative Project Makes a Difference

Source: Agri-News
By Carol Stender

The Whole Farm Cooperative is a grocery store of locally grown foods.

Apples, ground beef, cabbage, bacon, potatoes and turkey can be found in the Long Prairie-based cooperative.

The cooperative started more than 10 years ago when a group of farmers wanted to expand their markets. They sought to supply ground beef from cull cows to St. John's University, the College of St. Benedict and St. Cloud State University.

They called their proposal "Feed the Saints," and sought a SARE grant for the project, said co-op member Herman Hendrickson.

When one school suggested the term "cull"cows be changed, the farmers used "reconditioned" cows instead, Hendrickson said.

The schools did not accept Whole Farm's proposal.

"We were scratching our heads about it," Hendrickson said. "We wanted to supply healthful foodstuffs. All of our livestock was grass-fed."

Beth Waterhouse, a Whole Farm Cooperative member, said she knew people would be interested in purchasing their products.

The farmers made plans for the cooperative. They set up a food collection area in Phil Arnold's basement. Someone donated a freezer. Another person offered a refrigerator for cold storage. Farmers brought produce and frozen meat to the site and made telephone calls seeking orders, Hendrickson said.

Their model was successful. They have built a distribution system to the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Freeport and Duluth. They have drop-off sites at 17 churches, six homes, five businesses, six cooperatives and one restaurant. Each site receives food deliveries once a month.

The drop sites make up the largest part of Whole Farm's business, Bromeling said. Local customers can purchase produce and meat at the cooperative's store located in the lower level of a Long Prairie business building. The store has a walk-in freezer, several coolers, storage and display areas .

The cooperative also offers books, cookbooks and artwork.

There are more than 30 farmer-members. Each pays a $25-per-year membership and must meet the co-op's standards. Livestock and poultry receive no hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. All chickens are free range and must be kept in a poultry shelter with access to pasture for foraging. Feed must be clean whole or ground grains.

Vegetable producers can't use artificial or manufactured chemicals on plantsor genetically modified seeds.

The cooperative also sells farm-fresh eggs from six producers. All the eggs sold at Whole Farm are candled and handled according to USDA specifications.

Bromeling started selling eggs at the cooperative in 2001, he said. He also raises beef, pork, geese, ducks, sheep and sometimes goats on his Browerville farm.

Kristin Wilson handles the orders and helps package. Cooperative members get the orders ready on Tuesday for Wednesday delivery.

A complete list of the co-op's standards and ordering information is available at their website:

To read more about this SARE project, visit SARE's project reporting website at:

NCR-SARE Project Creates Value Around Grass-fed Milk

Source: Ag Weekly

Is there a way to “create value around grass-fed milk?”

Scott Rankin, a UW-Madison food scientist, asked that question last week during a “grass-fed dairy tasting.”

It was the second annual event, and it drew several dozen invited guests to the Arlington Agricultural Research Station. Guests heard informational presentations and participated in side-by-side tastings of foods made with “conventional” milk and that made with milk from cows that had primarily been grazed.

The 36-month project has a year to go. It’s funded with just over $148,000 from a North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grant.

Laura Paine, the Wisconsin agriculture department’s grazing and organic agriculture specialist, said the project has four goals. The first goal is to “develop a definitive understanding of the unique physical, chemical and flavor qualities of grass-fed milk.”

The second goal is to “gain an ability to manage seasonal changes in milk flavor and physical properties to improve processing quality,” she continued. Goal number three is to “create an increased awareness among dairy processors of the opportunities and appropriate uses for grass-fed milk.”

Goal number four, said Paine, is to figure out how to establish a premium price for dairy products made from the milk of grazed cows.


Beginning last year, milk was collected from grazed cows on the farms of the five members of Edelweiss Graziers’ Cooperative. The co-op requires that at least 60 percent of members’ cows feed is fresh forage during the grazing season, said Bert Paris, Belleville, an Edelweiss member.

Milk was collected three times during each grazing season n during the spring “flush,” in midsummer, or June, and again during the fall. That was done, said Rankin, to see if the time of year influences the milk, and also the products made from it. In addition, pasture samples were collected for testing right before the milk was processed.

Project partners turned to the UW-Madison’s Babcock dairy plant to make the milk into finished products. Last year the milk was processed into fluid milk, cream, yogurt and butter. This year the research has concentrated on butter and fluid milk.

Rankin evaluated the products on their color, fatty acid content, texture, melting point and other characteristics, both chemical and physical. For a comparison, the same kinds of products were made with conventional milk from cows on a farm that used stored feed.

“The evidence so far,” said Rankin, “suggests that the unique features of grass-fed milk are concentrated in the butterfat.” He offered some “preliminary observations about the milk and dairy products that were made from the milk of the grazed cows.

The Babcock plant made six samples of each of four products from the grazing milk, and two samples of each product using the conventional milk. Products made were fluid milk, butter, heavy cream, and yogurt.

Rankin explained that project members decided the milk should be pasteurized, and that for the fluid milk sample it should also be homogenized. Then they conducted sensory tests on the UW-Madison campus.

People involved in the tests were asked, “’How much do you like this product?’” Rankin explained. “Generally,” they liked the conventional milk more.

One-hundred people said they preferred the milk from conventionally fed cows, while 50 said they preferred the milk from the grazed cows. On a scale of 1 to 10, the conventional milk outscored the “grass-fed” milk 6.3 to 5.8.

“Is this a fatal flaw?” the food scientist asked. “These numbers are pretty close.”

The milk from grazed cows had a “very distinct, unique flavor,” Rankin added. But he hinted that perhaps more people would like it as they become “educated” about it.

Paine, the grazing specialist, pointed out that the study’s aim is “not to validate” what graziers “think is good.” It might turn out, she said, that milk from grazed cows is not the best to be marketed as fluid milk.

Perhaps, she said, this milk might find more consumer acceptance as butter and cheese. The people involved in the study would like to be able to make recommendations to milk processors, Paine added.


Butter made from the milk of the grazed cows fared better when it came to a health factor. Rankin said this butter tested about 5 percentage points lower in saturated fat than butter made from the conventional milk.

Butter made from the milk of the grazed cows was also more yellow. Rankin noted that yellower butter is often perceived as being “more healthful.”

Turning to butter hardness, the food scientist said the results varied. Butter made from the milk of grazed cows could be harder or softer than butter made from conventional milk, depending on the time of year the cows grazed.

As for the cream, that from milk of grazed cows was thicker. It scored 47.73 in viscosity tests, while the cream from conventional milk scored 38.13.

When it came to yogurt - unflavored and unsweetened n that made from the milk of grazed cows almost matched that made from conventional milk, in terms of preferences. Tasters scored yogurt made from conventional milk an average of 4.83, while they scored yogurt made from the milk of grazed cow 4.73.

Commented Rankin, “As we build complexity in a product, these (preference) differences start to go away.”

Still to go in this project is work comparing the two types of fluid milks and butters, along with a more-in-depth look at the beta carotene content of the butters. Rankin said he also plans to examine the color and texture of the two kinds of butter.


The project has tapped the expertise of two chefs to see how products made from the milk of grazed cows compares to those made with conventional milk when it comes to cooking. Leah Caplan, Field to Fork Culinary Consulting, Madison, and Jack Kaestner, a chef at the Oconomowoc Lake Club, Oconomowoc, prepared several items for people at the tasting to sample and compare.

Kaestner said he serves some dairy products made from “grass-fed” milk to customers at the Oconomowoc Lake Club. When it comes to the butter, he said an oft-uttered comment is, “Oh, that’s what butter used to taste like!”


Next year’s phase of the project will focus more on outreach to farmers, processors and consumers, said Paine. And the sampling and testing will continue.

For more information on this SARE project, visit the SARE reporting website at:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Listening Sessions Help Guide the Grant-Making Process for NCR-SARE

NCR-SARE, in cooperation with the Nebraska Great Plains Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D) and Iowa Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D), conducted public listening sessions at three locations in east-central NE and southwest IA to discuss increasing the sustainability of their agriculture.

The NCR-SARE listening sessions serve as an opportunity to bring together people with differing viewpoints within a community of place to share their perspectives of sustainability and agriculture. Reports resulting from the listening sessions serve as a respected information source on the status and prospects of sustainable agriculture and as such guide the Administrative Council that directs the NCR-SARE competitive grants and other programs.

“The purpose for the listening sessions is for NCR-SARE to learn from residents of the region what is on peoples’ minds, what NCR-SARE is doing well, and what we might change to better meet the needs of people who live in the region,” said Bill Wilcke, Regional Coordinator of NCR-SARE.

NCR-SARE and the RC&Ds partnered with cooperative extension and community colleges to provide public meeting facilities in Lincoln, NE, Omaha, NE, and Council Bluffs, IA. The sessions took place in late September, 2010, in Lincoln, NE at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office, Council Bluffs, IA, at Iowa Western Community College, and Omaha, NE at Metropolitan Community College.

“Southwest Iowa and east central Nebraska form a natural ‘food shed’ based on the naturally occurring flow of goods and services between the rural countryside and the metropolitan areas,” explained Norman Hanson, Chairperson of the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D.

To discover how the communities of Lincoln and Omaha,NE and Council Bluffs, IA are defining sustainability in their area, listening sessions were held in each of the communities during a three-day visit by NCR-SARE researchers and educators. The sessions included facilitated discussions, tours, and question and answer periods, among other activities.

Grounding their perceptions in visits to local community gardens, small-scale producers, and programs to foster future growers, the participants then listened at each location as stakeholders in the local food system discussed their perceptions of current trends and how their communities will sustain food production and distribution in the future.

After an introduction ice-breaker that generated ideas defining community, participants were asked a round of questions in each listening session. They received a handout with the questions as they registered and the questions were posted on a power point as the group discussed them. Questions addressed topics such as trends in rural and urban food systems, community and regional challenges for food systems, observed successes in urban and rural communities, perceptions of sustainable agriculture, and the future of food systems.

Some of the major trends addressed by participants included: an increase in local production and distribution, a decreased proportion of farming to production needs, an increased need for effective and accurate communications about food systems and regulations, gaps between the pricing and affordability of land and food, the availability of food sources, an increased awareness of health and food relationship, a need for more reliable education/knowledge at all intersections in the food system, a need for employment security for all in food delivery system, and the need for more and younger farmers.

A summary of findings and the data that support the conclusions and recommendations for next steps was developed. It will help guide NCR-SARE in its effective design and distribution of grants.

In order to generate and disseminate sound and practical information and to increase the sustainability of agriculture, NCR-SARE will continue to listen and respond to groups and communities of farmers, ranchers, researchers, and extension agents throughout the region. Suggestions of where listening sessions should take place are welcome and you can direct ideas to

11th Annual Kansas Winter Grazing Conference

The 11th Annual Kansas Winter Grazing Conference is scheduled for January 15, 2011, 9am-4pm in Junction City, Kansas. Topics for the day are Mob Grazing, Focusing on Animal Performance, and Multi-Species grazing with Cattle and Sheep.

Featured speaker is Greg Judy of Clark, Missouri who uses Holistic High Density Planned Grazing to graze cows, cow/calf pairs, bred heifers, horses, and stockers. He and his wife Jan own a 250 head grass genetic cow herd, 300 head hair sheep flock, goat herd, and graze Tamworth pigs. They have also started direct marketing grass-fed beef, lamb and pork. Greg is author of “NO RISK RANCHING, Custom Grazing on Leased Land” and “COMEBACK FARMS, Rejuvenating Soils, Pastures and Profits with Livestock Grazing Management.”

This conference is sponsored, in-part, by NCR-SARE. For more information, contact Kerri Ebert at 785-532-2976 or

13th Annual Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference

Visit Madison, Wisconsin for the 2011 Midwest Value Added Ag. Conference, Cultivating Farm Profitability, January 27-28, 2011 at the Sheraton Madison Hotel.

This is the first year the conference will be held in Madison and River Country RC&D Council is expecting an eclectic mix of small-scale farmers and urban agricultural enthusiasts as well as the region’s top educators and farm service organizations.

The program will feature Joel F. Salatin. Salatin is an American farmer, lecturer, and author whose books include You Can Farm and Salad Bar Beef. Salatin raises livestock using holistic methods of animal husbandry, free of potentially harmful chemicals, on his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. Meat from the farm is sold by direct-marketing to consumers and restaurants.
Sponsored, in-part, by NCR-SARE.

Register online at

5th Annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit

The January 2011 Wisconsin Local Food Summit is being held at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI, January 13-14, 2011.

Breakout sessions will be conducted on a wide range of topics of interest to those who are concerned about local food issues followed by a facilitated summit session that will strive to determine through consensus the 3 highest priority topics currently for local food system development in Wisconsin. Due in part to support from the Program Innovation Fund, WLFN now has resources available to form statewide working groups around these topics. As always, networking opportunities will abound during the summit. Local food prepared by Chef Chad Kornetzke throughout the summit. Includes a scaling up local foods presentation by NCR-SARE.

A block of rooms is being held for the group at $70 single and $100 double. Please make reservations by December 15, 2010 to secure this rate. To reserve your room, call 800/876-3399 and identify yourself as an attendee at the Wisconsin Local Food Summit.

NCR-SARE Webinar on Grass-Fed Beef

An NCR-SARE webinar "Grass-fed Beef" will be presented by Terry Gompert, Extension Educator in Knox County.

It is scheduled for Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. CDT.

To participate in the Adobe Connect "Sustainable Agriculture” Webinar Series, you will need to have a computer with internet access and a phone. At the meeting time, simply click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser to enter the meeting: Contact Gary Lesoing at (402) 274-4755 or with questions.

Former NCR-SARE AC member, William Tracy, Named Interim Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Source: University of Wisconsin

Agronomy professor and department chair William F. Tracy has been named interim dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“Chancellor Martin and I are delighted with Bill’s willingness to serve and are confident that the college will maintain and grow its forward momentum and success under Bill’s leadership,” says Provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr. “We’re fortunate to have someone with Bill’s background, skills and judgment to step in at this most critical juncture.”

Tracy will assume the post on Jan. 2, when CALS Dean Molly Jahn steps down.

“The college is very well positioned for the future. My primary goal will be to work with our faculty, staff, students and external partners to ensure that the position of CALS dean is an attractive and exciting opportunity that will attract the best possible leader and scholar,” Tracy says.

Tracy joined the Department of Agronomy in 1984 and has served as chair since 2004. He has a long record of service on campus committees and initiatives. He recently finished a term as chair of the University Committee, the executive committee of the Faculty Senate.

His research focuses on breeding and genetics of sweet corn, one of Wisconsin’s most important vegetable crops. Tracy has developed many new hybrid and inbred varieties with improved yield and resistance to insects and disease. He has taught a wide range of classes, from entry-level crop production to graduate instruction in plant breeding and plant genetics. He has also been very active in efforts to get the university involved in K-12 science education and in outreach and continuing education related to crop production, plant genetics, and the interaction between agriculture and society.

Tracy earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant and soil sciences from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and earned a Ph.D. in plant breeding with a minor in agronomy and genetics from Cornell University in 1982.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Announces New Director

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is pleased to announce the appointment of Rob Hedberg as its new director. Hedberg has served as interim director of the program since January 2009, and brings a wealth of personal, professional and educational experience in agriculture to the job.

Since 2005, Hedberg has worked at USDA-NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) focusing on science policy, legislative and inter-governmental affairs. In these roles, he worked closely with Congress and other federal agencies on issues related to agricultural science and led USDA's participation in negotiations on the Research Title of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Prior to working at USDA, Hedberg served in the policy arena for Congress and scientific organizations. He served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow and as Director of Science Policy for the National and Regional Weed Science Societies.

Hedberg gained practical public and private sector field experience in a variety of leadership roles in agricultural business, research and education, including owning and operating a crop consulting and research firm and serving as a regional agronomy agent for the University of Vermont.

After growing up on a small farm in Michigan, Hedberg pursued degrees in agriculture, first receiving a Bachelor's degree in Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University. He then went on to complete a Master's degree in Plant Science from the University of New Hampshire and a Graduate Certificate program in Management and Administration at Harvard University.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MOSES Organic Farming Conference, Feb. 24-26

The MOSES Organic Farming Conference is the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. Organized by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES),
and held annually in La Crosse, WI, the conference is an extraordinary, farmer-centered event.

With over 60 informative workshops, 140+ exhibitors, locally-sourced organic food, live entertainment and inspirational keynote speakers, the conference is celebrated as the foremost educational and networking event in the organic farming community. Sponsored, in part, by SARE. To register and view more information, visit

Western Corn Belt Conference for Organic Farmers, Dec 6-7

The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service will host the Western Corn Belt Conference for Organic Farmers on Dec. 6-7.

The conference, for organic producers and traditional agriculture producers considering a transition to organic farming, begins on Dec. 6 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel, 3200 W. Maple St., Sioux Falls. Registration is $30 for those who sign up on or before Nov. 15; the registration fee is $40 after Nov. 15. One-day registration options after the early sign-up period ends are set at $30 for the first day only and $15 for the second day.

To register for the conference, send payment and contact information to event organizer Peter Sexton, Box 2207A, Plant Science Department, SDSU, Brookings, SD 57007. For additional information call Sexton at 605-688-6179.

Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University will present the keynote address on Dec. 6. Speakers during the morning session Dec. 6 will discuss transitioning to organic crop production systems, and the afternoon session will focus on organic weed control and a presentation on biology and management of soybean aphids. The second day will include sessions on rules governing organic production, government programs for transitioning to organic production and organic livestock production.

Conference speakers include extension specialists, educators and researchers from South Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois. Organic producers and other experts will also share their experience and expertise throughout the conference.

Peter Sexton, SDSU plant science professor and a conference organizer, said the conference should be a great opportunity for agricultural producers, people who work in agricultural service businesses and the public.

“We’re including a top-notch lineup of speakers and guests, we encourage organic producers and anyone who is transitioning to organic production or considering a transition, to register for the conference,” Sexton said. “The conference will include research-based information on weed control and beef production, as well as opportunities for people to hear first-hand from organic farmers regarding their own experience with transitioning, weed control and beef production.”

Sexton said organic production in the United States has expanded greatly over the last 10 years and that this trend is projected to continue.

A complete conference agenda is available online at Partners in the event include the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service, the USDA’s Integrated Pest Management and SARE programs and the South Dakota State University IPM Program.

A block of rooms has been reserved for conference attendees at the host hotel. While rooms are available, participants can receive the group rate at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel by making reservations before Nov. 6. Ask for the “SDSU Organic Agriculture Conference” rate. Call the hotel directly at 605-336-0650.

Rural Farming to Urban Gardening Event Features NCR-SARE Grant Recipients

What: “Rural Farming to Urban Gardening” -- an evening of enlightened conversation and photography exhibition on food and farming.
When: Tuesday, November 30; program & facilitated discussion 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; (self-guided photo exhibition 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
Where: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, One Michigan Ave. East, in downtown Battle Creek
RSVP: 269.969.2678

Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m., for “Rural Farming to Urban Gardening,” a nourishing evening of conversation on food and farming, accompanied by a photography exhibition on Black Farmers (self-guided photo exhibition 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.). The stirring visual display is the backdrop for what promises to be a stimulating and relevant discussion.

During the program, Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA and NCR-SARE grant recipient, reflects on her 40 years experience working on farm bills to improve the lives of rural poor. Conversation continues with Michigan farmers Peggy Kohring and NCR-SARE grant recipient Barbara Norman, and includes topics relating to nutrition, food safety, and childhood obesity.

The event begins with Distant Echoes: Black Farmers in America, a captivating photography exhibit and video featuring the work of world-renowned photojournalist John Francis Ficara, who shares the lives and working conditions of black family farmers throughout the United States that are slowly disappearing from the American landscape.

“Rural Farming to Urban Gardening” happens at the Kellogg Foundation and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided. Seating for the event is limited. RSVP: 269.969.2678

2nd Annual Agroforestry Symposium, Jan. 12, 2011

The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri’s second Annual Agroforestry Symposium will be Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011.

The program, “Meeting Renewable Energy Goals: Role of Bioenergy Crops,” features a keynote address from Steve Flick, Chair of the Board of Directors of Show Me Energry Cooperative, Centerview, Mo. Flick will present “Real Green from Real Green.”

The symposium will be from 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. in the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building’s Conservation Hall Auditorium, University of Missouri.

The Energy Independence and Security Act mandates that annual biofuels use nearly triples from the current 12 billion to 36 billion gallons per year (BGY) by 2022, with 21 BGY coming from advanced biofuels. To achieve this goal, significant gaps must be addressed in all parts of the supply chain, said Dr. Shibu Jose, director, The Center for Agroforestry.

“As outlined in the President’s Biofuels Interagency Working Group Report, a strategic approach is needed to ensure development of suitable energy crops, sustainable feedstock production systems, and infrastructure-compatible advanced biofuel production,” he said. “The goal of this symposium is to share the current state of knowledge on producing and processing the most common bioenergy crops in the region.”

The symposium is free and open to the public, although RSVP is requested. Please contact Julie Rhoads,, by Jan. 5 to reserve your spot. Please contact Shibu Jose,, with interest in exhibiting posters related to agroforestry and/or biomass studies.

Steve Flick is an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant recipient. To view his project report, go here:

Vance Morey to Serve as Interim Coordinator for NCR-SARE

NCR-SARE would like to welcome Vance Morey to their staff. Morey has been hired as the Interim Regional Director for the program, replacing Bill Wilcke, who is on disability leave. In addition to serving as the key staff person to the Administrative Council as they develop program goals and make funding decisions, the Regional Director oversees and promotes NCR-SARE to a broad audience. Housed at the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul campus, Morey will provide leadership for the program, supervise staff, and manage grants and budgets.

Morey earned degrees in agricultural engineering from the Michigan State University and Purdue University before becoming a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in1970. His research has focused on post harvest handling of crops, energy use, and biomass utilization. He has taught a range of courses over the years including processing of agricultural products, food process engineering, engineering computations, and introduction to design.

Morey has served several organizations, including the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, Institute of Food Technologists, Institute for Briquetting and Agglomeration, American Association of Cereal Chemists, American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Society for Engineering Education, and the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology.

NCR-SARE Hires Beth Nelson to Coordinate R&E and Graduate Student Grant Programs

Beth Nelson has been hired as the Associate Director for the NCR-SARE program, a new position at NCR-SARE. Housed at the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul campus, Nelson will support the NCR-SARE Research and Education and Graduate Student grant programs administratively, and provide leadership for SARE within the region.

Prior to coming to her new position with NCR-SARE, Nelson served as the Minnesota Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator for NCR-SARE since 2004. She facilitated SARE-supported educator professional development in sustainable agriculture in Minnesota, and promoted other SARE research and education opportunities.

Nelson earned graduate degrees in Plant Physiology at Purdue University and the University of Minnesota before joining the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) as the Associate Program Director for the Information Exchange Program in 2000. MISA is a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Sustainers’ Coalition.

NCR-SARE Hires Rob Myers to Coordinate PDP Program

The NCR-SARE program would like to welcome Rob Myers to the NCR-SARE staff. Myers has been hired as the Professional Development Program (PDP) Coordinator for the program, replacing Interim PDP Coordinator Linda Kleinschmit and her predecessor, Paula Ford. The PDP coordinator provides leadership for the region’s professional development effort. Myers will work closely with Linda Kleinschmit, who will continue in her role as PDP Associate Coordinator.

Myers did his graduate work at University of Minnesota, obtaining M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy. Following completion of his Ph.D., he served as a Congressional Science Fellow, working on the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. He then spent five years as a faculty member in agronomy at University of Missouri, subsequently serving as national director of SARE from 1995-97. He grew up on a family farm in central IL and attended Illinois State University as an undergraduate in agricultural science.

Myers will be based in Columbia, MO, where he was previously founder and director of the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, a nonprofit organization working on crop diversification and agricultural sustainability.

Web Resources for Sustainable Management Practices For Perennial Weeds

An NCR-SARE project at the University of Illinois sought to increase farmer knowledge and awareness and improve farmer's skills in managing perennial weeds using integrated management approaches. The project was conducted on sustainable and organic farms in Illinois and surrounding states.

Perennial weeds, such as Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) or field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), threaten the sustainability of farms in the Midwest. They can establish from seed or extensive, deep creeping roots, and are vigorous and very competitive against annual crops. Based on farmer input and university research, this project is designed to develop and disseminate information on Canada thistle management for use on sustainable and organic farms.

The project objectives were to: 1) expand a farmer-based research and co-learning network; 2) develop effective and sustainable systems for perennial weed management; and 3) disseminate information and foster farmer adoption of site-specific sustainable best management practices.

The project researchers sought to integrate tillage, mowing, cover crops, decision-making tools, and biocontrol approaches applied on a site-specific basis.

For a list of on-line resources related to Canada thistle biology and control, click HERE.

See how the 2008 mini-grants turned out. Seven farmers from Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri participated.
See how the 2009 mini-gran
ts turned out. Fifteen farmers from Illinois participated.

In 2010, 16 farmers were chosen to participate in the project -- 14 in Illinois, one in Iowa and one in Wisconsin. The participating farmers were chosen through a mini-grant program developed specifically for this project. Check this site for progress reports as farmers begin testing sustainable weed management practices on their farms.

Alan Fennell, Sterling, IL
Andrea Hazzard, Pecatonica, IL
Thomas & Janet Jablonski, Blackstone, IL
Brad Long, Saybrook, IL
Todd and Julie McDonald, Manteno, IL
Greg & Janet Morse, Putnam, IL
Kristen Kordet, Stoughton, WI
Dave Campbell, Lily Lake, IL
Bryan Wagner, Findlay, IL
Paul St. John, Sugar Grove, IL
Ray Fox, Waterman, IL
Tracy Doonan, Reynolds, IL
Wayne & Ryan Wangsness, Decorah, IA

To read more about the research conducted for this NCR-SARE Research and Education project, visit the SARE online reporting website at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ohio Sheep Dairy Symposium

A Sheep Dairy Symposium will be hosted by the Ohio Sheep Milk and Cheese Initiative on Nov. 6, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Ohio State University's Agricultural Technical Institute, 1328 Dover Road, Wooster, Ohio.

The Ohio Sheep Milk and Cheese Initiative has been funded by a
NCR-SARE grant to explore sheep dairy opportunities in Ohio. The symposium is sponsored by ATI, Ohio State University Extension, Innovative Farmers of Ohio, NCR-SARE and the Small Farm Institute.

Topics of discussion include enterprise budgets and financing options, market potential, cheese makers, grazing practices and nutritional requirements.

Speakers include Yves Berger, researcher with University of Wisconsin Spooner Agriculture Research Station, who will speak on dairy sheep genetics, milk production and nutrition; and Pat Elliott, farmer and cheese maker from Everona Dairy in Rapidan, Va., who will share how she started her working sheep dairy.

Registration is $25 per person, due by Oct. 20. For more information on the symposium, log on to

Thursday, October 7, 2010

U of Minnesota Extension dean honors William Wilcke

NCR-SARE Regional Coordinator and University of Minnesota Extension agricultural engineer, William Wilcke, was presented with the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Campus-based Faculty this week at the organization’s annual conference.

The award was presented by University of Minnesota Extension Dean Bev Durgan. “Throughout the years, in times of weather emergencies like floods, early frosts and tornadoes, Wilcke is consistently first to respond with information on recovery options for grains,” said Durgan.

Wilcke’s programs experience widespread use by grain farmers throughout the state. Wilcke has developed a nationally recognized program on the post-harvest handling of crops. He led the effort to develop the award-winning software “WINFANS: A Computer Program For Selecting Crop Drying Fans and Determining Airflow.”

Among a wide variety of activities to advance sustainable agriculture, Wilcke has served as Regional Coordinator of NCR-SARE since 2002. In addition to serving as the key staff person to the Administrative Council as it develops program goals and makes funding decisions, Wilcke has provided oversight and has promoted NCR-SARE to a broad audience. He has served as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota since 1989, and is currently serving as a Professor and Extension Engineer in the Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Department in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences.

Additionally, Wilcke has served on the Board for the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (MISA), coordinated the sustainable agriculture development efforts, served as leader for the Extension crops system specialization, contributed to national and regional Extension leadership programs, and was the acting administrator for MISA.

“Wilcke is extremely respected by the Extension educators and specialists who have worked with him throughout his career,” added Durgan. “His quiet yet professional style is a trademark appreciated by colleagues and customers alike.”

Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Source: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

AMES, Iowa -- The concept of “life cycle assessment” was first applied to manufacturing processes but is increasingly being used to examine agriculture. It’s a technique to analyze the environmental impacts associated with a product, process or service.

Iowa State University researchers used the life cycle assessment concept to estimate the amount of nonrenewable energy needed to produce pigs in Iowa. The project was supported by a two-year grant from ISU’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and a U.S. Department of Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant.

The research took into account all direct and indirect energy inputs in the construction and operation of a pig facility, plus the growing and processing of feed ingredients.

Comparisons were made between a conventional confinement system with mechanical ventilation and liquid manure handling, and one that uses bedded hoop barns for grow-finish pigs and gestating sows.

The two housing systems required similar amounts of nonrenewable energy but each uses energy differently according to Pete Lammers, a former ISU doctoral candidate in animal science. Lammers now is a livestock specialist for the National Center for Appropriate Technology in Des Moines.

Lammers said raising pigs in conventional confinement facilities requires the use of more energy to heat and ventilate the buildings. “Using bedded hoop barns for gestation and grow-finish reduces this energy use by almost 70 percent,” he said.

However, pigs raised in hoop barns require more feed, which ultimately leads to the two systems performing similarly in terms of energy use. “Earlier ISU research showed a hoop barn-based system requires 2.4 percent more feed. In addition, the nitrogen value in the solid manure is less than what’s available in liquid manure collected at a confinement facility. That means more fertilizer nitrogen must be applied to corn fields,” Lammers said.

The researchers found the largest single use of nonrenewable energy in pig production is growing the feed. Approximately 50 percent of the nonrenewable energy associated with growing and processing a typical corn-soybean meal diet can be attributed to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer for corn production.

So although conventional facilities require more energy to operate fans, lights and heaters, the amount of energy related to crop production is slightly less when compared to hoop barn-based pig production.

Mark Honeyman, animal science professor and coordinator of Iowa State’s research farms, said the research showed a huge drop in the use of nonrenewable energy for pig production over the past 35 years.

“This study showed a reduction of nearly 80 percent in nonrenewable energy use to produce one market pig in Iowa today, compared to 1975, which was the last time this topic was examined,” Honeyman said. “This can be attributed to improved genetics and nutrition, changes in housing and ventilation systems and an overall increase in production efficiency.”

Honeyman said the research shows the key to further reducing nonrenewable energy use for Iowa pig production is nitrogen management. “Strategies to optimize nitrogen stocks and flows among crops, livestock, manure and soil should be a priority for future research,” he said.

Peer reviewed papers on the research have appeared in “Applied Engineering in Agriculture,” “Journal of Animal Science” and “Agricultural Systems.”

To read more about the research conducted for this NCR-SARE Graduate Student Grant project, visit the SARE online reporting website at

Monday, October 4, 2010


Source: Laura Miller, Leopold Center

AMES, Iowa –The tallgrass prairies that once covered Iowa contributed to the state’s fertile soil, but Iowa State University researchers say this endangered ecosystem offers so many other benefits to landowners.

A prairie can reduce soil erosion and nutrient pollution, help stabilize the hydrology of a watershed, increase the number of beneficial insects, be used to graze livestock or grow biomass for renewable energy production. A prairie also provides habitat for many wildlife species and songbirds, and it can store carbon from the atmosphere to reduce greenhouse gases.

These are some of the benefits outlined in a new publication, Incorporating Prairies into Multifunctional Landscapes. The publication was written by Meghann Jarchow, a Ph.D. candidate in the ISU Department of Agronomy, and her advisor, Matt Liebman, ISU’s Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair of Sustainable Agriculture. Both are members of a research team supported by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The research team is developing multi-year cropping systems for Iowa that integrate annuals and perennials. Their work also is motivated by a concern to evaluate both the productivity and environmental impacts of cropping systems.

“Within the next few decades it is likely that the conditions surrounding agricultural production will have changed,” Jarchow explained. “As these changes occur, other types of cropping systems that are less reliant on stable weather, government subsidies, and low fossil fuel costs than corn and soybean are likely to become more desirable cropping system options. Prairies are one of those other types of cropping systems, which is why it is important for farmers and landowners to be familiar with these alternatives.”

Tallgrass prairies developed in Iowa more that 10,000 years ago. Before European settlement, prairies covered most of the central United States. Today nearly all of Iowa’s prairies have disappeared because of the growth of agricultural production, according to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. It is estimated that less than 0.1 percent of Iowa’s native prairies remain.

The publication looks at ways that prairies can be incorporated into farms, how they affect nearby crops, and resources to establish your own prairie. Jarchow, whose background is in plant ecology, provided many of the full-color photographs in the publication.

The publication was sponsored by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Leopold Center and ISU Agriculture and natural Resource Extension. The publication can be downloaded, or printed copies requested at no charge, from the ISU University Extension Online Store at:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Annual National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference Features Farmers, Ranchers and More

Join a host of SARE grant recipients plus staff from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program at the largest annual small farm trade show in the United States-The National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference(tm). Now in its 18th year, the Conference takes place on Thursday, November 4th through Saturday, November 6th, 2010, in Columbia, Missouri, at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

Can you farm or ranch while protecting the environment, making a profit, and benefiting your community? These speakers say, "Yes!" and will show you how to do it. There will be more than 30 Farmers Forum talks featuring North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant and Youth & Youth Educator Grant recipients. Sessions are 25 to 55 minutes long and run continuously throughout the three-day event. You'll hear about composting, beneficial bees, agroforestry, heritage turkeys, community gardens, local food systems, freshwater shrimp farming, weed control with goats, elderberries, and much more. After the talks, meet the speakers and pick up free sustainable agriculture resources at the SARE Trade Show booths. Call NCR-SARE for Farmers Forum details: 1-800-529-1342.

Choose from 19 one-hour seminars at the show. Don't miss the Financial & Technical Opportunities for Your Farm seminar on Nov. 4 by Lauren Cartwright, NRCS Agricultural Economist, or the Improved Egg Quality seminar on Nov. 5 by Kelly Klober, poultry producer and NCR-SARE grant recipient.

Six short courses give you the opportunity to get in-depth information on topics ranging from sweet potato production to building a parasite resistant sheep flock. Attend a movable high tunnel demonstration offsite in Ashland, MO.

The National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference(tm) is sponsored by Small Farm Today(r) and sustained by Missouri Department of Agriculture, NCAT-ATTRA, SARE (USDA-NIFA), and Truman State University.

Show times are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Preregistration is $8 for 1 day, $12 for 2 days, or $15 for all 3 days, allowing attendance of the trade show, seminars, demonstrations, exhibits, shows, meetings, and Farmer's Forum. Three-hour short courses are an additional $35 each ($25 in advance before October 27). To register, call Small Farm Today at 800-633-2535, write National Small Farm Show, 3903 W Ridge Trail Rd, Clark MO 65243, or see for more information.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NCR-SARE Grant Recipient, Marla Spivak, Named MacArthur Fellow

University of Minnesota entomologist and past NCR-SARE grant recipient, Marla Spivak, has been named one of 23 recipients of this year's "genius grants" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Spivak will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations and reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore.

According to the Foundation:

Marla Spivak is an entomologist who is developing practical applications to protect honey bee populations from decimation by disease while making fundamental contributions to our understanding of bee biology. Essential to healthy ecosystems and to the agricultural industry as pollinators of a third of the United States’ food supply, honey bees have been disappearing at alarming rates in recent years due to the accumulated effects of parasitic mites, viral and bacterial diseases, and exposure to pesticides. To mitigate these threats, Spivak’s research focuses on genetically influenced behaviors that confer disease resistance to entire colonies through the social interactions of thousands of workers. Her studies of hygienic behavior—the ability of certain strains of bees to detect and remove infected pupae from their hives—have enabled her to breed more disease-resistant strains of bees for use throughout the beekeeping industry. Spivak’s “Minnesota Hygienic” line of bees offers an effective and more sustainable alternative to chemical pesticides in fighting a range of pests and pathogens, including the Varroa mite, a highly destructive parasite that spreads rapidly through Western honey bee colonies. By translating her scientific findings into accessible presentations, publications, and workshops, she is leading beekeepers throughout the United States to establish local breeding programs that increase the frequency of hygienic traits in the general bee population. With additional investigations into the antimicrobial effects of bee-collected plant resins under way, Spivak continues to explore additional methods for limiting disease transmission and improving the health of one of the world’s most important pollinators.

Marla Spivak received a B.A. (1978) from Humboldt State University and a Ph.D. (1989) from the University of Kansas. She has been affiliated with the University of Minnesota since 1993, where she is currently Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Entomology. She is the author and creator of numerous beekeeping manuals and videos, and her scientific articles have appeared in such journals as the Journal of Neurobiology (now Developmental Neurobiology), Evolution, Apidologie, and Animal Behavior.

Spivak has participated in and coordinated several NCR-SARE grants pertaining to her work in the Bee Lab. Together with Gary Reuter, Spivak published, "A Sustainable Approach to Controlling Honey Bee Diseases and Varroa Mites" which demonstrates results from SARE-supported research. She's also the co-author of SARE's 2010 book, “Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists,” which is a first-of-its-kind, step-by-step, full-color guide for rearing and managing bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees and other bee species that provide pollination alternatives to the rapidly declining honey bee.

The following NCR-SARE projects highlight some of the research she has conducted with support from NCR-SARE.