Who We Are

The Grand Farm Initiative was created to solve the biggest problems facing agriculture. It started around a community challenge and has transformed into a global leader in AgTech innovation.

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Our Story

In 2017, local entrepreneur Barry Batcheller challenged the community to define our region’s major – a specialty that attracts innovation and new businesses to the area. What followed was an idea to lean into our region’s strong history in agriculture innovation and create a place where stakeholders across the globe could come together to solve the biggest challenges facing agriculture.

By 2018, local business and civic leaders had come together to champion the idea, led by Emerging Prairie. Local AgTech business owners, Kevin and Stacey Biffert, donated land to be used for the concept. By spring 2019, Grand Farm was positioned with land, partners, and projects. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, came to North Dakota as a guest of Senator John Hoeven to help break ground on the Grand Farm Test Site. And in the fall of that year, Microsoft pledged $1.5 Million to support and accelerate Grand Farm.

In early 2022, Grand Farm was awarded a $10 Million matching grant by the North Dakota Legislature and State Department of Commerce to further advance agriculture technology through a world-class innovation campus.

Today, our partners are collaborating on cutting-edge autonomous and advanced agriculture technology innovations, and Grand Farm has grown its reach from regional to global.

The Future of Grand Farm

We are building a campus where growers, industry professionals, and educators will collaborate to deliver innovative solutions.

The Innovation Shop and Innovation Campus will not only create a hub of innovative activity in the agriculture and technology industries leading to high-paying, high-skilled jobs, they will also serve as an attractor of venture capital for early-stage companies and long-term investment by enterprise and research organizations. This activity and investment will flow into our community and ultimately create a deep, positive impact on our region.

Grand Farm Innovation Shop Rendering

Creating an Ecosystem

“If you’ve ever been to the Grand Farm site, you know that it is more than just dirt. It’s where we bring people together to collaborate on some of the biggest issues facing the agriculture industry.”

– Brian Carroll, CIO of Emerging Prairie and Co-Founder of Grand Farm

Meet the Team

Our talented and dedicated team is hard at work bringing our region together over innovative ideas.

Dr. William Aderholdt

Director of Grand Farm

Ujjwal Adhikari

Grand Farm Intern

Dr. Ruchi Joshi Bhardwaj

Grower & Educator Program Manager

Brian Carroll

CIO of Emerging Prairie and Co-Founder of Grand Farm

Andrew Jason

Ecosystems Director

Christopher Korinek

Grand Farm Project Intern

John Mann

Program Manager

Nathan Marcotte

Project Manager

Lloyd Nelson

Chief Financial Officer

Ann Nobriga

Program Manager of Field Operations

Stetson Urlacher

Grand Farm Events Intern

Matt Wendel

Director of Marketing and Communications

Meet Our Board of Directors

Our board is made up of supporters, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs who guide our work forward.

Greg Tehven

Board Chair and CEO and Co-Founder of Emerging Prairie

Mark Watne

Board Vice Chair

President, North Dakota Farmers Union

Cynthia Schreiber-Beck

Board Secretary

North Dakota State Representative

Jessica Fyre

Board Member

Chief Operations Officer & General Counsel, AgCountry Farm Credit Services

Eric Hardmeyer

Board Member

Former CEO, Bank of North Dakota

Ron Holiday

Board Member


Jake Joraanstad

Board Member

CEO, Bushel

Taya Spelhaug

Board Member

TechSpark Manager, Microsoft

Meet Our Grower Advisory Board

We have convened a group of innovative growers to provide advice, critical feedback, and recommendations to the Grand Farm management team on a range of agricultural technologies and environmental issues that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.

Kyle Courtney

Kyle is a grower from Dickey County, ND. On his farm, Kyle grows corn, soybeans, and wheat. Kyle is a past member of Dickey County Water Resource board, as well as former chairman of Dickey County FSA board and current CEO of Rentease. He is looking forward to seeing where the agriculture industry is headed and is looking to create relationships.

david Gorder

David is a grower from Grand Forks County, ND. On his farm, David grows edible dry beans, sugar beets, and spring wheat. David is a Member of American Crystal Sugar Co-op, Vice President of GF County Farmers Union Board, Owner of AcrePro Farm Agency. David is looking to contribute to the advancement of agriculture.

Verna Kragnes

Verna is a grower from Clay County, MN. On her farm, Verna grows various vegetables and specialty crops and raises livestock. She also markets CSA memberships online through the Red River Harvest Cooperative and vegetables to area restaurants. Verna is looking to “advance technology that supports healthy living for the farmers and sustainability and health for livestock, crops and soil.”

Vanessa Kummer

Vanessa is a grower from Richland County, ND. On her farm, Vanessa grows corn, sugar beets, soybeans, and wheat. She is past chair of United Soybean Board and of North Dakota Soybean Growers, Farm Journal Foundation Farmer Leaders. Vanessa is interested in “continuing to learn with and from others about ag.”

Kathi Luther

Kathi is a grower from Cass County, ND. On her farm, Kathi grows soybeans, corn, and alfalfa. Kathi runs a seed dealership; she is involved with Bayer, Peterson Farm Seeds, Agassiz Seed and Supply, Wilbur Ellis and Pivot Bio and other companies. Kathi is looking to learn more about new technologies that are “farmer friendly” and cost effective.

Sarah Lovas

Sarah is a grower from Traill County, ND. On her farm, she grows various crops, such as wheat, corn, barley, soybeans, and sunflowers. She is involved in SBARE, ND Certified Crop Advisors, ND Crop Consultants Association, Traill County Soil Conservation. Sara is looking to learn about new agriculture technologies. She is also looking to gain industry collaborations and adopt new technologies.

Shelby Lyons

Shelby is a grower from Ransom County, ND. On her farm, Shelby grows corn and soybeans. She also raises livestock. Shelby is a member of the ND CattleWomen’s Association and NDFB. She is looking to get a first-hand view of the products being used in the industry and wants to provide useful feedback.

Chase Nelson

Chase is a grower from Cass County, ND. On his farm, Chase grows Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Rye, Alfalfa, and Aronia Berries. Chase likes to try new things in his farming operation and is interested in learning about ways to make his farm, and farms across the state, more efficient.

Quinn Renfandt

Quinn is a grower from Ward County, ND. On his farm, Quinn grows a variety of specialty crops. He is a member of numerous agriculture-related organizations. Some of the associations include Red River Harvest Cooperative, USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program, North Dakota Forest Service, and more. Quinn hopes to “begin developing solutions that make economic and practical sense for the people who need it most.”

Adam Spelhaug

Adam is a grower from Richland County, ND. On his farm, Adam grows corn and soybeans. He is a Kindred FFA advisory board and alumni, Certified Crop Advisor. Adam is looking to advise Grand Farm in the best way possible. He wants to learn and implement new ideas for his own farm as well as connect with other leaders in the agriculture industry.