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Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)


The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) provides research-based resources for nontraditional food-production and crop-management practices to support the USDA's mission of promoting a sustainable future and agricultural economic viability for farmers worldwide.

Historic Resources

Pioneers in Sustainable Agriculture

Rice heads on stalks

Video interviews with individuals who provided leadership and inspiration in the early years of alternative and sustainable agriculture, including Dr. James Duke, Dr. Charles Francis, Robert Rodale and others. (Recorded with AFSIC staff, 1988-1991)

Organic Roots Collection

Composite of two images, rooster and barn drawing.

The documents in this NAL digital collection were specifically chosen for their relevance to today’s sustainable and organic farmers.

Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases

Magenta flower spikes on green plant background

Dr. James Duke was a USDA botanist and a leading authority on medicinal herbs. This database is one of the world's leading repositories of ethnobotanical data and houses information on plants and their chemicals, bioactivity, and ethnobotany. 

Funding Opportunity Announcements

See Agricultural Funding Resources by Topic for additional resources.)


What is Agricultural Literacy?

(October 2023)

An agriculturally literate person is one who understands "the food and fiber system, and this would include its history and its current economic, social and environmental significance to all Americans."  (National Research Council)

Gearing up to Sow and What is a Plant Breeder?

(May 2022)

Plant breeding is an ancient activity that originated as our ancestors shifted from gathering wild plants to growing them in a controlled manner.

What is Sustainable Agriculture?

(March 2022)

"Sustainable agriculture" is legally defined as integrating plant and animal production practices that target several specific long-term objectives. 


AFSIC Background

The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC), founded in 1985, was one of the first USDA programs to focus on sustainable and organic agriculture. 

AFSIC disseminates information across a diverse subject area to a broad audience that includes research scientists, agricultural professionals, and the hobbyist. The Center regularly collaborates with other federal agencies and organizations and serves as a communication hub fostering delivery of relevant data-driven science, tools, and agricultural program information to public stakeholders – ensuring that USDA resources for agricultural equity, resilience, and prosperity are available to all.

Contact Us

Online:  Use the library's Ask a Question form. 

Questions will be answered by AFSIC Technical Information Specialists.

Phone:  (301) 504-6559


Sign Up

To sign up for the  Alternative Farming Systems Information Center Listserv go to USDA Agricultural Research Service ( and find us under the National Agricultural Library.

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