Illinois SARE Grants

North Central Region SARE Grants

Sustainable Food, Fuel and Fiber

Contact Information:
Richard A. Weinzierl, Illinois SARE Coordinator
S334 Turner Hall
1102 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

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 2015 Research and Education Grant Program. Text | PDF
    DEADLINE: October 23, 2014

    Individual grants range from $10,000 to $200,000.  NCR-SARE expects to fund about seven to ten projects in the twelve-state North Central Region.
  • The 2015 Partnership Grant Program PDF
    DEADLINE: October 30, 2014.  

    The SARE Partnership Grant program is new and 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 $30,000. For the current year funding of the Partnership Grant Program, up to $200,000 of the partnership grant pool of $340,000 in funds is available for projects focused on cover crops and soil health. For consideration under the cover crops and soil health funding, applicants are asked to use cover crops and/or soil health in their project title and to make the topic of cover crops and/or soil health the main focus of the application.  For the remaining funds of $140,000 or more, other project topics appropriate to the NCR-SARE program will be considered for funding.
  • The 2015 Youth Educator Grant Program Text | PDF
    DEADLINE: November 13, 2014.

    Youth Educator Grant projects provide opportunities for youth in the North Central Region to learn more about sustainable agriculture (farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible).  Educators use the grants to encourage young people and their parents to try sustainable practices and see sustainable agriculture as a viable career option. Projects should help youth discover that sustainable farming and ranching is profitable; good for families, communities, and their quality of life; and good for the environment long term. The maximum amount for grants is $2,000, and a total of approximately $20,000 is available for this program.
  • The 2015 Farmer Rancher Grant Program Text | PDF
    DEADLINE: November 20, 2014.

    There are three types of competitive grants: individual grants ($7,500 maximum), partner grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($15,000 maximum), and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($22,500 maximum). NCR-SARE expects to fund about 45 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region with this call. A total of approximately $400,000 is available for this program.

The focus of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education, and these grants are all highly competitive. Funding considerations are made based on the relevance and potential of the project to increase the sustainability of agriculture in the region, as well as how well the applicant articulates the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

Contact us if you have a project you would like to discuss.
Please check this link for a key word search of previously funded projects .

Follow this link for a webinar presented by Gary Lesoing, Nebraska State SARE Coordinator, explaining the Farmer Rancher and Youth/Youth Educator grant programs, process, and past grant recipients.


Grants of up to $10,000 for projects on Cover Crop Impacts and Economics


The National Wildlife Federation is inviting proposals to conduct research on the economics and water quality attributes of cover crops, particularly in the Mississippi River Basin. Successful proposals will have practical application to agricultural practice and policy.

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

FW07-319 hoop house construction

Season Extension Topic Room

Season extension--a web-based collection of guides, bulletins, and other materials that grew out of SARE-funded projects and research.

Training manual for new CSA producers

"The purpose of this manual is to assist new and prospective CSA farmers by providing some basic 'nuts and bolts' of CSA management without losing sight of the fact that each CSA has its own unique personality and set of demands," said Laura DeLind, project cooperator.

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