Heartland Sustainable Agriculture Network
The innovative Kansas Rural Center Heartland Clusters program helped launch several farmer- and rancher-run organizations that continue to operate today.
In 1994, the Kansas Rural Center launched the Heartland Network 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 used 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.
Some resulting cluster groups still exist today. These include Flint Hills Graziers, Four Seasons, Great Plains Organic Herb Grower’s Association, Kansas Graziers Association and Kansas Organic Producers.
Organizing Around Group Needs
The Heartland Network empowered rural communities to develop production and food systems that effectively balanced profitability, quality of life, and land stewardship. The Network sought to build leadership and working partnerships that integrated farms, food systems, and institutions into a sustainable future.
KRC organized networks of farmer-to-farmer clusters to promote sustainable farming practices and value-added markets. These clusters used on-farm trials, workshops, field trips, pasture walks, whole farm planning, feasibility studies, market research and business planning to explore change. Master farmers mentored other farmers through a shared learning journey to transfer management skills and wisdom to the next-generation of farmers. The clusters listed below have received technical and financial support from the Kansas Rural Center.
If you are interested in more information on the Heartland Network, please contact Mary Fund,email@example.com or 785-873-3431. Individual Heartland clusters and contacts are listed below.
Heartland Cluster Contacts
Click on any of the cluster names to read more about them:
Flint Hills Graziers – This grazing cluster learns how management intensive grazing and a mix of forages extends the grazing season. Please contact Rick Hanschu, 133 Quail Road, Ramona, KS 67475, (785) 965-2602, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four Seasons – Management intensive grazing and clean water farming practices guide this cluster. Please contact Mary Howell, 1723 Wildcat Road, Frankfort, KS 66427-8618, (785) 292-4955 or (785) 562-8726 (cell), email@example.com.
Great Plains Organic Herb Growers Association – This organization’s mission is to foster communication among herb growers, buyers, and users. Please contact Rob Marshall, 908 W. 20th Terrace, PO Box 4422, Lawrence, KS 66046, (785) 841-9241,firstname.lastname@example.org
Kansas Graziers Association - This organization seeks to link the grazing clusters of the Heartland Network together by sponsoring grazing conferences and tours. Please contact Mary Howell, 1723 Wildcat Rd., Frankfort, KS 66427, (785) 292-4955 or (785) 562-8726 (cell), email@example.com.
Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance -Recognized as the first multi-farm Customer Supported Agriculture alliance in the Midwest, Rolling Prairie’s CSA continues to serve customers in Northeast Kansas. Read the story of Rolling Prairie and starting a vegetable subscription service.