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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.

Funding Opportunity Announcements

See Agricultural Funding Resources by Topic for additional resources.

  • Urban Agriculture Innovative Production and Implementation Grants (NRCS) - Application deadline April 9, 2024
    Competitive funding to initiate or expand efforts of farmers, gardeners, and other stakeholders target areas of food access; education; business and start-up costs for new farmers; and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.
  • Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) - Application deadline May 1, 2024
    Two application paths are open this year (General and Youth). NAAF is looking for projects that deliver developed content with practical application to the success of Native farmers and ranchers or that take research and assist individuals in applying the results of that research to improve their operations
  • Regional Food Systems Partnerships (RFSP) - Application deadline May 14th, 2024
    USDA Agricultural Marketing Service program designed to build and strengthen the viability and resilience of local or regional food economies through collaboration and coordination of private:public partnerships. 
  • Forest Landowner Support Program (Track B) - Rolling applications reviewed quarterly, final deadline August 21, 2024.
    USDA Forest Service program designed to assist underserved forest landowners in emerging markets to mitigate climate effects and/or improve resiliency. Details on webinars and office hours included.

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. 


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. 

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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