Roy W Ballard

Extension Educator & Indiana SARE Coordinator
Hancock County
Roy W Ballard's website

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Produce display with FoodLink

Would you buy something if you didn’t understand how it worked or what to do with it? Likely not… Imagine a customer of yours who doesn’t know how to select, prepare or store the fresh healthful produce that you are growing and offering for sale. How likely is it that they will buy that product? Or buy it twice? What are we doing at the point of sale to encourage that purchase? Your produce may be cosmetically perfect and 100% healthful but is it able to communicate to the customer anything about its selection, use or how much their family will enjoy it if prepared properly? Most every packaged, ready to eat, value added product in the grocery store is designed to convey these messages in a loud and clear format…Have you seen the breakfast cereal aisle in the grocery store lately? Those products are conveying an undeniable “BUY ME” message and they are directly competing for customer dollars with your silent but beautiful (and healthful) produce every day. There[Read More…]

Farmer Rancher Grant Program of NCR-SARE is for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. The Farmer Rancher Grant offers grants of up to $7,500 for an individual applicant, $15,000 for 2 applicant farmers cooperating, and $22,500 for three or more farmers cooperating. More information about the grant is available at In Indiana, we had five farmer-initiated projects selected to receive funding in 2017. They were: James Catron of Hallelujah Acres Farm in Lebanon, IN was awarded $7,500 for the project, “Measure the Effectiveness of Interseeded Cover Crops for Proactive Weed Prevention in a Chemical-free, Low-till Vegetable Market Garden Operation.” Jane Loomis of Old Loon Farm in Columbia City, IN was awarded $22,477 for the project, “Investigating the Possibilities of Cooperative Sorghum Syrup Production and Marketing for Strengthening Small Farm Sustainability in Northern Indiana.” Thomas McEvilly of McEvilly Gardens[Read More…]

NCR-SARE’s Professional Development Program (PDP) provides funds for professional development projects that provide sustainable agriculture training to agricultural professionals and educators. Projects can be up to three years in duration, and funding level is capped at $75,000 for each project. The 2017 call for proposals is now available online at Proposals are due at 4:00 pm CDT on April 5, 2017.

Farmers and ranchers in the North Central region are invited to submit grant proposals to explore sustainable agriculture solutions to problems on the farm or ranch. Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results. Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible. Projects should emphasize research or education/demonstration. There are three types of competitive grants: individual grants ($7,500 maximum), team of two grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($15,000 maximum), and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together ($22,500 maximum). NCR-SARE will be accepting online submissions for the Farmer Rancher Grant Program. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for proposals. Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as[Read More…]

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How many times have you had to explain to a customer how to select, prepare or store a product that you have grown and are offering for sale? Did you ever wonder if more shoppers might buy your product if they had a clear understanding of how to prepare it? How many of us would buy a kohlrabi if we never learned how to prepare one in a manner that our family would enjoy? Many of today’s shoppers are making purchasing decisions based on convenience and a lack of knowledge about how to select and prepare traditional fresh produce. If we expect this generation of shoppers to buy what we are growing we need either a lot of time and patience to help them one at a time as we encounter their questions in the marketplace and/or we need tools so the shopper can educate themselves at the point of[Read More…]

​Consumers have many choices in today’s marketplace. Whether they are shopping in the your farm market, roadside stand, community farmers’ market or the local grocery store it makes no difference…busy shoppers can choose to buy fresh fruits and vegetables or any number of frozen or otherwise preprocessed (value added) foods. FoodLink, a FREE tool developed by a team within Purdue Extension with funding from a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, will provide today’s shopper with immediate and free access to unbiased information that may influence the food choices they are making while still at the point of purchase. Our goal is to help them choose YOUR high quality fresh Indiana products over lesser choices that take their dollars away from the farm and perhaps out of state and may have less nutritional quality than your fresh farm products. FoodLink provides vendors access to sales materials that include Quick Response (QR)[Read More…]