Every December, Northeast SARE gets a slew of annual and final reports from our grantees. This is our harvest, coming during the darkest and coldest days of the year. The reports are by farmers, researchers, and educators, and they shed light on wide range of hot topics. New information is revealed on everything from aquaculture to urban farming, marketing to soil fertility, animal health to community connections. Our staff pore through the reports and marvel at the work our grantees, and in many cases, at their ability to translate technical findings into useful products for others. These products—books, videos, bulletins, and online learning tools—are offered to the agricultural community for free or at minimal cost.
This issue of Innovations gives a sampling of those resources, recent ones that illustrate the SARE program’s variety, usefulness, and depth. There’s a new book, in print or e-copy, on systems research. We have new videos on scab in apples, cover crops as feed, and compost as a source of heat. The breadth of topics is wide--a presentation on whole-farm approaches to equine health, plans for an amphibious machine for harvesting shellfish, and a new bulletin about field beans.
Space here is limited for us to crow about our grantees’ work, so we encourage you to browse the products and tools listed in the following pages and watch our website and social media for great information products we had to leave out.
To us, the ability to take technical information and translate it into forms that make it accessible to, and actionable by, potential end-users is one hallmark of a great scientist. Dr. Fred Magdoff, Northeast SARE’s founding regional coordinator, is a stellar example of that ability. You need only look at his work on the best-selling SARE book on Soil Health, to his clear articulation of applied agro-ecology in SARE’s whole farm pest management booklet, or his development and promotion of the pre-sidedress nitrate test which helped optimize fertilizer use across the nation.
So it should come as no surprise that Fred was recently awarded the 2016 Presidential Award by the Soil Science Society of America. The award is for individuals who have influenced soil science so greatly that the impact of their efforts will continuously affect and improve the future of soil science and the profession. Fred’s contributions, however, reach far beyond the soil, to the larger economic and environmental systems. He is the author of What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism, The ABCs of the Economic Crisis: What Working People Need to Know, and The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences: Creating an Ecological Society, is due out in May.
As SARE approaches its 30th anniversary, we should also reflect on the enduring impact that Fred has had on this program. In the 1980s, Fred was instrumental in getting SARE, then known as LISA, off the ground, and when the funding was approved, he set up the Northeast program. Under his 20-year leadership, the region built lasting partnerships with farmers, researchers, and educators. He hired remarkable staff that have made Northeast SARE so effective, many of whom are still on the job: Lee Hendrickson, financial manager, David Holm, program manager, and Helen Husher, communications specialist.
Fred also bestowed an aspirational quality to SARE. He wanted us to do more than just make grants: he wanted the knowledge gained to be useful, and to be used. To that end he helped establish SARE Outreach, which is the ‘publication’ arm of the organization. It helped create many of the resources highlighted in this issue. He also helped us adopt ‘outcome’ thinking, focusing on measurable impacts, not just activities. And finally, he advocated for farmer involvement at every step of our grants process: from planning to review to implementation to evaluation. Thanks, Fred!