Published: April 17, 2009. Cooking Up a Story is pleased to announce a unique partnership with the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, commonly known as “SARE”. Our partnership will enable us to expand the range and depth of our stories and how-to videos, and to profile successful farmers whose practices have benefited from SARE grants and SARE research to improve their own economic viability, and stewardship of the land. We are also excited that this will enable us to film in other regions for Cooking Up a Story; this year, in parts of the Western and North Central areas of the country.
For those who may not be familiar with SARE, it is a USDA/CSREES supported program that provides grants to farmers, researchers, and agricultural educators. SARE’s mission is “to advance – to the whole of American agriculture – innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education.” Over the course of their 21 year history, they have funded more than 4,000 grants nationwide (many of those directly to farmers), and have provided the kind of assistance that has helped farmers to survive, sometimes by providing the means and the knowledge to branch into new production and marketing avenues for generating additional income and long-term growth. These kinds of program benefit all of society including farmers, eaters, and local communities.
In 2003, Northeast apple farmers were facing extinction because of fierce competition from foreign competitors, while their own local land prices, oil, and labor costs had escalated sharply in value. They began to work with a local non-profit organization, Red Tomato, that acted as a broker to bring consumers together with family farmers whose apples were organic, and that relied upon an integrated pest management system (an ecological approach to managing pests). Ultimately, this collaboration resulted in significant sales to larger retail markets, and an exponential growth in product sales over just a four year period of time. Years earlier, SARE had provided a grant that enabled Red Tomato to get off the ground, and to experiment in ways to help other farmers.
SARE, through its grant programs and emphasis on research and education continues to help farmers transition into a more sustainable future. Cooking Up a Story intends to showcase (with the how-to videos) concrete examples of successful farming and marketing practices that will offer invaluable information of potential benefit to other farmers.
Cooking Up a Story will profile SARE farmer grantees, sharing their personal stories, their cutting-edge work on the farm, and their connection to the land and sustainable agriculture.