At Strengthen ND, we enjoy providing boots-on-ground support to communities and organizations taking on great initiatives.  Two initiatives we are currently working on include the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center and Building Resilient Farm Country.

Tuttle Rural Innovation Center

In 2017, Strengthen ND was approached by individuals from the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center (TRIC) and Tuttle community to write and submit a grant proposal to problem-solve around the utilization of the former school building to support area ranchers, producers, and community members through local foods.  Through a collaborative writing process, Strengthen ND was able to obtain $200,000 from the Bush Foundation in November 2017 to support locals foods strategy development in the Tuttle area. More specifically, the goal to be achieved by the activities of the grant is: to develop a strategy to utilize local foods as an economic generator and resource for vulnerable populations in the Tuttle area.  Some of the key activities of the project include:

  1. Hosting community cafes and planning sessions with local farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and residents focused on assessing opportunities for food business development, food processing, and farm to institution relationships;

  2. Hosting community cafes with vulnerable populations and service providers to identify opportunities to supplement available resources with local foods byproducts and activities;

  3. Creating an economic development strategy and vulnerable populations strategy for local foods based on input obtained at the community cafes;

  4. Testing and implementing local foods projects for vulnerable populations, such as creating hot meal availability for seniors and school-age children, demonstration gardens, community orchards, and food preparation and nutrition classes; and

  5. Marketing the available community kitchen space for community use and economic opportunities.

The outcomes and strategies developed as a result of the funded project are meant to be a direct reflection of the needs and opportunities identified by individuals within the Tuttle area.

Building Resilient Farm Country

Many small, rural communities in north central North Dakota are challenged by declining investment and an out-migration of young households. To support economic development and curb rural de-population, Strengthen ND has designed a project named Building Resilient Farm Country. Building Resilient Farm Country is a model to repopulate and expand economic opportunity for rural North Dakota by building the local food and micro-farm sectors.  Building Resilient Farm Country utilizes one of North Dakota’s most ample resources, abandoned or idle farmsteads, by making them available for aspiring small farm producers with a support system.  

By repopulating abandoned farmsteads and mentoring new and aspiring farmers, economic development will be spurred in rural North Dakota, both locally and at the state level, as the farmers purchase fuel, groceries, farm equipment, fertilizer, seed, and other necessary goods.  Additionally, as a result of repopulated farmsteads, a broader base of individuals will be available to serve as a workforce, become small business owners and entrepreneurs, and increase populations in rural school districts.

With the support of dollars from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Strengthen ND will employ three specific strategies, including:

  1. Advisory Committee: Assemble a local advisory committee comprised of stakeholders from across the region to support successful project implementation.  It is anticipated that the advisory committee will convene at least six times throughout the length of the project to provide insight, connections, and potential resources. In addition to primary advisory committee members, several partner agencies will be engaged, with representatives from each county commission, USDA-Rural Development, local agriculture lenders, and other local leaders targeted.

  2. Inventory & Assessment of Farmsteads: Create an inventory and complete an assessment of flooded and vacant/idle farmsteads in Renville, Bottineau, McHenry, Rolette, Pierce, Towner, Benson, and Cavalier counties and the Spirit Lake Nation and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa reservations that share their borders.  The assessment of each flooded and abandoned farmstead will consist of evaluating their available resources, including water and road access, proximity to a community, type of growing conditions present, and other applicable items.

  3. Localized Assessments: Create a localized assessment of the barriers to farming and resources available for Native American, New American, and other potential farmers in north central North Dakota.


The outcomes of the above-mentioned inventory and assessments may spur the need and feasibility of phase 2 of the initiative, which may or may not include:

  • developing an active farmer mentor program to build local capacity;

  • creating a micro-farm incubator to support new producers through an internship;

  • establishing a cooperative program to acquire farmsteads and allow for charitable gifting; and

  • creating a long-term tax credit to serve as an incentive for farmstead donation.

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​​​1905 2nd St. SE - P.O. Box 982 - Minot, ND 58702-0982