Illinois SARE Grants

North Central Region SARE Grants

Sustainable Food, Fuel and Fiber


Contact Information:

Laura Christianson
S322 Turner Hall
MC-046
1102 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801
(217)244-6173
lechris@illinois.edu

Andrew Larson
MC-4000
421 W. Pines Road, Suite 10, Oregon, IL 61061
(815)732-2191
andylars@illinois.edu

Welcome to Illinois SARE Program

Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has advanced profitable and environmentally sound farming systems that are good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program.


The FruitGuys Community Fund 2017 Grant Cycle

Letters of Interest due Monday, January 9, 2017

The FruitGuys Community Fund provides small grants (up to $5,000) to small farms and agricultural nonprofits for sustainability projects that have large positive impacts on the environment, local food systems, and farm diversity. Grants in amounts ranging from $2,000-$5,000 will be awarded in Spring 2017. Projects to be considered should help farms and/or orchards operate more sustainably, both environmentally and economically, as well as strengthen community outreach.


2017 Request for Proposals for Cover Crop Champions

Deadline January 15, 2017

The National Wildlife Federation is accepting applications for farmers and conservation professionals, i.e. “champions”, to conduct outreach to promote cover crops and provide region-specific information and farming knowledge to farmers and crop advisors. Selected applicants will receive financial support for time, travel, and presentation materials, a training on messaging and presentation tools, and access to an elite network of other cover crop champions. There is a limit of $10,000 in total expenditures for each application.


Organic Research Extension Initiative (OREI): January 19, 2017

OREI grants are a key funding opportunity for projects that advance research, extension, and education opportunities within the organic industry. A variety of organic stakeholders and their projects are eligible for OREI funding, including (but not limited to) universities, nonprofits, and private companies. Projects must include a local or regional panel component, in addition to involving farmers when performing on-farm testing to promote regional-based developments. During the application process, projects will be categorized into four areas: (1) Integrated Project Proposals; (2) Conference Proposals; (3) Research, Education and Extension Planning Proposals; and (4) Curriculum Development Proposals. The deadline for these proposals is 5 p.m. on January 19, 2017.


Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG): January 9, 2017

USDA's agency dedicated to conservation efforts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), recently announced the availability of $25 million for its CIG program in 2017. This program, which is a branch of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), provides an opportunity for NGOs, non-Federal government organizations, American Indian Tribes and individuals to engage in research and projects focused on conservation. NRCS' goal is to ultimately make the technologies and practices that come out of CIG available to farmers engaging in on-farm sustainability. Each year, the program focuses on specific areas in conservation technology. This year's foci include: conservation finance, precision conservation, data analyses to assess natural resource abundance, and water management technologies. Of the $25 million allotted to this year's projects, $2 million will be directed towards projects specifically targeting and working to improve conditions for beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and veteran farmers. The application deadline is January 17, 2017.


Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): February 3, 2017

CSP is a unique program that supports farmers already invested in environmentally sound farm practices, as well as farmers looking to improve their farms' sustainability. USDA's NRCS carries out CSP, the largest working lands conservation program in the nation. CSP works differently from the other grants mentioned here; specifically, farmers receive both technical and financial assistance in a contrast that extends for five years. State NRCS technical advisors will help farmers develop plans for their conservation practices. These can include: addressing major regional resource concerns such as water quality, improving soil quality, increasing on-farm biodiversity and conserving water and energy. Additionally, the program offers conservation enhancements to help expand or add on to a farmer's already existing conservation efforts. To help you navigate these enhancements, check out some of NSAC's own resources. Due to the obvious appeal of the resources and guidance awarded through CSP, it is a highly competitive grant program. To apply, farmers must fill out a simple form. If accepted and deemed eligible for CSP, contracts will be awarded first to those whose conservation plans (which are developed together by the farmer and NRCS field staff) best address key state-based priority resource concerns. Applications will be accepted year-round. However to be considered for a FY 2017 contract, applications should be turned in no later than February 3, 2017.


Rural Energy for America Program (REAP): Deadlines vary by grant type

In an effort to facilitate sustainable farm development by way of efficient and renewable energy, USDA created REAP, an outgrowth of the Farm Bill's energy title, through which REAP is allotted $50 million annually. REAP's funding approach is two-pronged, with assistance going towards: (1) grants and guaranteed loans for farms and small rural businesses aiming to improve energy efficiency and implement renewable energy; and (2) energy audit and renewable grants for service providers who work with farmers and small rural businesses.

Because the types of REAP projects are wide-ranging, USDA offers a number of deadlines for its Notice of Solicitation for Applications. For farms and small businesses requesting grants under $20,000, the first batching deadline has already passed. However, the second batching deadline will be at 4:30 p.m. (local time) on March 31, 2017. Larger grant requests are also due at 4:30 p.m. on March 31, 2017. Finally, for farms and business requesting a private loan guarantee, there is a rolling deadline, which will begin the first month that 8 applications are turned in.


Food Chapter of the Awesome Foundation / (Rolling deadlines)

Now accepting applications to further food awesomeness in the universe. Monthly awards of $1,000 are given and anyone can apply. Applications are accepted on a recurring basis.


Farm Aid  (Rolling deadlines) provides grants to IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit (family farm and rural service) organizations that fulfill the goals of three different programs:

Helping Farmers Thrive
Grants in this category fund organizations that provide farmers with the tools and resources they need to get started on the land, access new markets, transition to more sustainable farming practices, produce renewable fuels and stay on the land in the face of financial crisis and natural disasters.

Taking Action to Change the System
Grants in this category fund organizations that promote fair farm policies and grassroots organizing campaigns to defend and bolster family farm agriculture, lifting the voices of family farmers and promoting their interests on a local, regional or national level.

Growing the Good Food Movement
Grants in this category fund organizations that are creating innovative programs that build local and regional food systems, connecting farmers directly to consumers and creating new value-added markets for family farmers.


Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program

Applications accepted on a rolling basis


0% Interest Loans Available to Farmers from Kiva Zip!

Rolling deadline

Kiva Zip is a non-profit loan program for startup folks without startup money and break-even folks who want to expand towards profitability. Apply for up to $5000 in loans and pay 0% interest. No minimum credit score required and 6 month grace period for start-ups!


Education Highlights

Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations

There is a growing body of evidence that shows cover crops improve resilience in the face of erratic and increasingly intensive rainfall, as well as under drought conditions. Cover crops help when it doesn't rain, they help when it rains, and they help when it pours!

SARE's Learning Center offers a variety of sustainable agriculture information including: