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Water Quality Projects

Clean Water Farms Project

The Kansas Rural Center has a long history of exploring water quality and quantity issues in Kansas, seeing a clear link between how we farm and environmental protection and resource sustainability. Nearly all sustainable agricultural practices benefit water quality and the environment. From our Sustainable Farming Project in the 1980’s to the current Clean Water Farms Projects, KRC has sought to establish good models of low cost, management intensive farming practices, that protect water quality and the farmer or rancher’s profitability. Since 1995, with funding from U.S. EPA 319 Nonpoint Source Funds through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KRC has been able to offer cost-share and planning assistance to Kansas farmers and ranchers willing to adopt clean water farming practices in vulnerable watersheds. Other projects focus on water quality benefits of grazing systems, and on related research topics such as feedlot management.

Clean Water Farms-River Friendly Farms Project
Coordinator: Mary Fund,

In January 2005, the Clean Water Farms Project launched the third phase of its now 10 year old effort to promote adoption of clean water farming practices in high priority watersheds in Kansas as the Clean Water Farms-River Friendly Farms Project: State WRAPS Focus. Since 1995, (with funding from U.S. EPA 319 Nonpoint Source Funds through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment,) the Clean Water Farms Project has successfully established good models of clean water farming easily adopted by other producers, putting over 80 demonstration projects on the ground, and reaching hundreds of other producers with workshops, farm tours, and presentations.

A key lesson learned early in the project was that producers must have a clear understanding of the problem or threat to water quality, and a plan and means of setting priorities for addressing the problems. In partnership with Kansas State University, the Kansas Rural Center developed the River Friendly Farm Plan—an environmental assessment to help farmers evaluate their farms or ranches and develop a plan for addressing problems. Phase two of the project (Clean Water Farms- Whole Farm Planning, 2000-2004) focused on helping producers use this self-environmental assessment (River Friendly Farm Plan) to establish priorities. CWFP then helped producers develop whole farm action plans, and offered cost-share to eligible producers to implement some part of that plan, as well as helped them to identify other resources.

Today, the project still assists farmers in completing the RFFP environmental assessment of their farm or ranch using the River Friendly Farm Plan notebook. Once the farmer completes the assessment, he/she is eligible for the $250 incentive payment for its completion.  An approved action plan also allows the farmer to apply for up to $5,000 in cost-share assistance to implement items in the action plan.

In addition to continuing to work with individual farmers and ranchers in high priority watersheds across the state, the new project will focus on helping individual farmers and ranchers in newly established Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy areas (WRAPS). We'll also work with community leaders in the new WRAPS areas. WRAPS is the state's new framework for ensuring stakeholder involvement in the assessment and action planning process to protect or restore entire watersheds.

Click here for more on CWF-RFF Project guidelines, producer eligibility, eligible practices, application details, and participant profiles.

Grazing Management Project
Coordinator: Mary Fund,

Grazing through the four seasons of the year can improve farm profitability and protect water quality. This project provides forage information and a free on-farm consultation using the Kansas Grazer planning tool, a software program designed by Kansas State University. This planning tool creates an inventory of the existing forages and cattle on the farm. The planning tool then compares forage availability against the nutritional needs of the beef herd. This analysis identifies periods of forage surplus and deficit. The farmer then can explore a mix of complementary forages to extend the grazing season throughout the year. Experimenting with different calving dates allows the grazer to better match nutritional needs with available forages. All of these strategies help reduce feed costs and manure runoff into streams.

Click the icon to download the brochure Click the icon to download the brochure about the free on-farm visit. (179K pdf file)

The “Assisting Small Diversified Family Farms Implement TMDLs through Forage Use Efficiency” is funded by an EPA Section 319 grant through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

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Wind Energy Projects

The Kansas Rural Center has a long history of advocacy on energy issues, dating back to the 1980s. However, with the recent turn towards renewable energy, KRC has undertaken various projects that seek to put wind turbines on the ground, assist rural communities with understanding the issues around wind energy development and advocate for more aggressive policies that will allow rural communities to develop the maximum amount of wind.

Click here for more information.

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Sustainable Food System Projects
The Rural Center supports a number of projects designed to move agriculture towards local and regional food systems that emphasize community, nearby markets, and the self-generation of local economies through farmer and processor livelihoods, all based on sustainable farming practices.

Topeka Common Ground Project

Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs

KRC has organized a broad coalition of horticultural producers, churches, social service agencies, child and nutrition advocates and hunger advocates to try and establish two different farmers’ market nutrition projects. The Department on Aging successfully completed the third year of the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program in the summer of 2005, providing seniors with coupons redeemable for fresh produce at markets. KRC continues to advocate for a similar WIC program for nutritionally at-risk mothers with infants and small children..

Grow Your Farmers’ Market Project
Coordinator: Mercedes Taylor-Puckett, or 785-840-6202

Grow Your Own Farmer's Market Project

Farmers’ markets have grown dramatically across Kansas. Farmers’ markets serve many functions including helping farmers’ incubate new enterprises and value-added products. Farmers’ markets are businesses. Like any other business, farmers’ markets will benefit from business planning.

KRC provides a free facilitation service guiding farmers’ markets in developing a business plan. The Wallace Genetic Foundation funds the “Grow Your Farmers’ Market” project.

Click here to download the brochure.  You may download a descriptive brochure by clicking on this link.

Kansas Farmers - A wealth of information on the 75+ farmers markets in our state.

Rules, Regulations and Resources for Farmers Markets in Kansas - Updated February 2009

You can also download a publication written by the Kansas Rural Center on "Starting a Seasonal Open-Air Market in Kansas" at (678K PDF file)

Kansas State University maintains a directory of Kansas Farmers' Markets at:

The Kansas Food Policy Council

The primary objective of the Kansas Food Policy Council (KFPC) is to bring together a diverse group of public and private sector stake holders to examine food systems in the state. The KFPC makes policy recommendations regarding ways in which the food system and related practices can be improved to enhance the health of the Kansas population, strengthen local economies and market opportunities, improve coordination and efficiency, protect the environment, and reduce hunger and food insecurity.

The KFPC operates throughout Kansas under the sponsorship of the Governor and her administration. Membership on the KFPC includes both governmental and private-sector representatives from all aspects of the Kansas food system (production, distribution, markets, and consumers). The KFPC serves as a venue for coordinating governmental and private-sector interests and activities, with efforts to be focused primarily in three areas: 1) Regional Food Systems; 2) Food Security; and 3) Human Health and the Environment. All activities are undertaken through a combination of pilot projects, broad governmental initiatives, and policy recommendations to the Governor.

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Research and Education Partnerships
KRC works in partnership with a range of institutions as well as state and federal agencies to bring the best information to family farmers and ranchers, and consumers. Projects include:

Heartland Sustainable Agriculture Network
Coordinator: Mary Fund, or 785-873-3431

Since 1994, the Heartland Network has worked in partnership with KSU Extension to provide seed money for farmers to organize learning clusters that explore options such as controlled grazing, pasture finishing, pasture farrowing, cover crops, organic farming, complementary on-farm and on-station research, direct marketing, and cooperative marketing. These clusters use field trips, workshops, demonstrations, consultants, whole-farm planning and alternative marketing to redesign their family businesses and improve quality of life, profitability, and land stewardship.

Current cluster groups include Flint Hills Graziers, Four Seasons, Great Plains Organic Herb Grower's Association, Kansas Graziers Association and Kansas Organic Producers.  For more info on each of these, see the Heartland Network web page.

Horticultural Production Systems - High Tunnels
Coordinator: Dan Nagengast,

KRC is cooperating with the University of Missouri, KSU and the University of Nebraska to pursue research using low-cost, plastic covered hoop houses in order to help horticultural farmers extend the growing season and increase the amount of seasonally available food in the region. Research projects are on-going as funding is found. An active web site is maintained at

Public Policy Advocacy
Coordinator: Mary Fund,

KRC works for public policies that enhance sustainable farming practices as well as a sustainable local and regional food system. Farm bill and other related federal issues are covered in KRC’s regular newsletter, Rural Papers, and an Action Alert email information service is available. KRC monitors state legislation on an issue by issue basis as determined by its board of directors and monitors federal farm policy though its membership in the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group/Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (MSAWG/SAC).

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Completed Projects

Family Farm Strategic Planning

KRC facilitated a strategic planning service to help farm families create alignment between current actions and their desired future. This strategic planning process helped a producers set the future direction for their farm and then chart a path to get there. This planning process allowed you to adjust the farm’s direction in response to a changing environment, enabled you to better focus your energy and ensures you all are working toward the same goals. The planning process involved discussion about your farm’s future; an assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your business; setting goals in response to the fundamental decisions you face; and making a commitment to planned action steps that moved you toward your goals. This service was funded by the Wallace Genetic Foundation.

Salina Community Food System Project

The Salina Community Food System Project promoted a regional food system by coordinating area farmers to provide fresh, local food for institutional meal programs. Project activities were focused on the Meals on Wheels program at the Saline County Commission on Aging. This community food system project also worked with at-risk youth to provide training in food production, preparation and marketing.

Guided Exploration of Value Added Enterprises Project

KRC assisted individual farmers and groups of farmers in all aspects of developing successful value-added enterprises. Workshops on such topics as setting up a low cost, certified processing kitchen, and tours of KSU facilities and existing operations, were supplemented with business planning courses and outreach to farmers markets.

Antibiotic Detection and Resistance in Feedlot Management:  
A Demonstration and Education Project

Working with researchers at Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, this project's strategy was to compare the antibiotic levels and resistance in lagoons associated with different livestock management strategies: those that administer antibiotics subtherapeutically in feed as a matter of course, and those which never administer antibiotics except for the treatment of disease. The results of the comparison will be used to help prepare new material for the River Friendly Farm Environmental Assessment Tool, allowing farmers to determine the impact of their management decisions on water quality.

Topeka Common Ground Project

The Topeka Common Ground Project was a collaboration of organizations that shared a vision of creating a local, sustainable food system in the Topeka area. Common Ground initiatives included several community and school gardens, production of organic bedding plants for farmers in an urban greenhouse, assistance with an urban-rural subscription vegetable service, provision of food to local food banks, and the development of commercial and social links between urban people and nearby farmers.

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