The farm bill matters to my farm because it helped to fund a research project we conducted on our farm. Using SARE grant funding, we were able to study the effectiveness of using guineafowl to control Colorado potato beetles without the use of pesticides. In addition to providing a financial safety net while we trialed an innovative pest control system, the grant also included student and farmhand wage funding to ensure the experiment was run successfully without taking away from our normal farm operations.
This funding allowed me to hire a 4th-year Sustainable Agriculture Systems major from Delaware Valley University, whom we met through a DelVal professor who collaborated with me on the experiment. In addition to hands-on experience with basic farm tasks such as planting, weed control, and harvesting, this student also gained experience conducting field trials and educating consumers about the project at on-farm events. After completing the project, we brought this student onto the farm payroll and planned to employ them after graduation. While our initial research project was modest in scale and funding, the multiplier effect led to our farm being able to hire more employees, pay higher wages, increase yields, and lower expenses.
Testing an innovative pest control system and so much more
Most importantly, our project’s final phase is presenting our findings to other farmers. SARE research grants and the database of past projects help to ensure that farmers are not acting in isolation, simultaneously running similar experiments, but instead are sharing best practices and working together to create a more resilient food system.