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.
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.
Frontera Farmer Foundation Grant Program Applications due March 4, 2017
The Frontera Farmer Foundation is committed to promoting small, sustainable Midwestern farms serving the Chicago area, by providing them with capital development grants. Small local farms, which often struggle financially, are more likely to promote biodiversity by planting a wide range of produce and operate using organic practices. The Frontera Farmer Foundation will award grants for capital improvements of up to $12,000 to small and medium-size, individually owned farms that sell their food products to customers in the Chicago area at farmers markets and otherwise.
Organic Transitions Program Applications due March 9, 2017
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is offering up to $3.8M in funding to support research, education and extension for both new and existing organic farmers and ranchers. The effort is aimed at helping more farmers gain access to the growing market for organic products in the United States.
See MANY more grant and funding opportunities from GoodGreens here.
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.
Applications accepted on a rolling basis
- Streamlined process with fees, interest rates, and paperwork minimized
- Targeted loan amounts between $1,000 and $100,000 (maximum $25,000 for start-ups)
- Loan amount not to exceed 80% of total project cost
- Low, fixed interest rates (currently between 5% and 9%)
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!
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:
- Production and marketing
- Practical handbooks
- Free bulletins
- Online courses
- How-to fact sheets based on SARE research projects