Woman of Asian appearance working in garden between beds with pitchfork in hands Woman of Asian appearance working in garden between beds with pitchfork in hands

FFAR & The Organic Center Invest $632,000 into the Future of Organic Farming

Washington, D.C.

To provide critical support for the most promising and impactful research and solutions to advance organic agriculture, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and The Organic Center (TOC) today announced five awards totaling $632,000 to advance organic farming. The awards fund much-needed training, technical support and innovative climate research. These projects increase farmer access to knowledge and resources, with an emphasis on historically underserved communities.

Organic farming is complex and nuanced work that requires innovative, collaborative solutions. The Organic Center and these prize recipients are taking steps to make organic farming practices more accessible and equitable, so farmers have the tools they need to combat climate change. LaKisha Odom, Ph.D.
Scientific Program Director
Sustaining Vibrant Agroecosystems

Organic farming is a critical part of addressing climate change. Organic farming uses techniques that sequester carbon in the soil and does not rely on fossil fuel-intensive synthetic inputs to manage pests or increase soil fertility. However, researchers have yet to fully understand specific strategies organic growers can adopt to mitigate climate change, while effectively managing the negative effects climate change is having on their farms through drought, flooding, invasive pests and extreme weather events.

To address this knowledge gap, TOC and FFAR partnered on two funding opportunities, the Organic Training for Agricultural Professionals Prize and the 2023 Organic Center-FFAR joint Organic Research Program.

The Prize recognizes extraordinary contributions to training farmers, agriculture professionals and community organizations in organic production. In selecting the 2023 prize winners, TOC and FFAR prioritized projects that increased organic agriculture by training farmers in organic practices and created access for farmers to agronomical professionals. Recipients were also selected based on their ability to increase diversity, equity and inclusion among participants. TOC and FFAR further focused on projects that included measurable knowledge exchange between farmers and organic agriculture professionals. Prize winners secured matching funds.

The Research Program awards grants, up to $200,000 per project, that focus on organic techniques for improving mitigation and resiliency to climate change. The Research Program grants focus on systems-based approaches and demonstrate a commitment to cross-sector collaboration. TOC and FFAR selected projects that serve the public good by making data open and accessible to the public and include under-represented farmers.

This year we received a large number of highly competitive proposals and were thrilled to see such innovative solutions that top candidates proposed for impactful research that will build farm reliance and outreach methods that will meet a wide range of audiences. Dr. Amber Sciligo
The Organic Center Director of Science Programs

The three Organic Training for Agricultural Professionals Prize winners include:

  • Kalona Regenerative Network
  • Kalona Regenerative Network (KRN), the nonprofit arm of the organic dairy company Kalona Supernatural, is educating farmers to use regenerative and organic farming methods to restore ecosystem health, grow more nutrient dense food and create profitable farms. With this $77,777 Prize, KRN is offering organic certification in-house and implementing a pay-what-you-can and scholarship model for their Producer Education Program. The Prize also supports KRN’s goal of providing accessible education and guidance to help producers and consumers drive change within the U.S. food system.

  • Oregon Tilth
  • Oregon Tilth offers education programs for certified organic producers and those interested in transitioning to organic production practices. The organization also builds organic farming support networks with agriculture professionals at state and federal agencies, universities and other organizations. This $63,173 Prize is an extension of the 2022 award Oregon Tilth received. This 2023 Prize allows Oregon Tilth to train additional farmers and agriculture professionals in organic certification, organic regulations, production practices and profitability tools. The Prize also funds convenings for organic certifiers that explore ways to streamline linkages between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service support and the organic certification process. Lastly, the Prize supports the Know Your Cost to Grow program, an online curriculum and cost calculation app developed to help producers develop and utilize cost information.

  • Rodale Institute
  • The Rodale Institute is growing the organic movement through rigorous research, farmer training and consumer education. This $96,694 Prize allows the Institute to expand its online educational portal to further reach and train farmers and agricultural professionals across the U.S. Specifically, the Institute is creating greater access to its online course “Transition to Certified Organic Agriculture” by translating it into Spanish, creating a scholarship program to provide free access to their online courses and expanding the types of courses offered.

The two 2023 Organic Center-FFAR joint Organic Research Program recipients include:

  • Dr. Moriah Bilenky, Purdue University
  • Dr. Moriah Bilenky received a $199,256 to investigate how integrated cropping systems on organic fields can reduce input costs and enhance biodiversity above and below ground. Specifically, Bilenky and her team are investigating the impacts of adding small ruminants to an integrated cropping system on soil health, microbiome health and presence of food pathogens on vegetable farms. The researchers aim to identify integrated cropping system best practices and plan to disseminate educational materials to increase adoption of these practices.

  • Dr. Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University
  • Dr. Kathleen Delate received a $195,124 award to study the effects of organic management on nutrient and soil water cycling and storage. Delate aims to quantify the optimal combinations of soil, greenhouse gas emissions and economic modeling for ecosystem health. She will compare agricultural system management, manure management and alternative cropping systems. Delate plans to share her results with the farming community to encourage farmer participation in data collection and practice adoption. She is also training multicultural farmers on the identified practices to spur adoption of her research recommendations.


Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Connect: @FoundationFAR

The Organic Center

The Organic Center‘s mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental impacts of organic food and farming and to communicate the findings to the public. The Center is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association.

Connect: @OrganicCenter

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