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.

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

Braxten Bastian

Startup Coordinator Intern

Dr. Ruchi Joshi Bhardwaj

Senior Program Manager of Education & Research

Brian Carroll

CIO of Emerging Prairie and Co-Founder of Grand Farm

Austin Erickson

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Antonio Franklin

Revenue Manager

Andrew Jason

Ecosystems Director

John Mann

Program Manager of Startups

Nathan Marcotte

Senior Project Manager of Innovation Technology

Lloyd Nelson

Chief Financial Officer

Ann Nobriga

Senior Program Manager of Field Operations

Stetson Urlacher

Grower Program Coordinator

Kyle Whitcraft

Director of Program Management Office

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

The Grower Advisory Board is a group of innovative growers who help advise Grand Farm on grower challenges, needs and issues. They work with our team to provide their insights to help guide our work in positive directions. By working with Grower Advisory Board members, we are able to identify new opportunities to advance technologies and get it in the hands of growers in our region.

Our Grower Advisory Board meets quarterly. If you are interested in collaborating with our Grower Advisory Board members, send an email to Grand Farm Grower Program Coordinator Stetson Urlacher at stetsonu@grandfarm.com

Kyle Courtney

Kyle is a grower from Dickey County, ND.

david Gorder

David is a grower from Grand Forks County, ND.

Verna Kragnes

Verna is a grower from Clay County, MN.

Vanessa Kummer

Vanessa is a grower from Richland County, ND.

Kathi Luther

Kathi is a grower from Cass County, ND.

Sarah Lovas

Sarah is a grower from Traill County, ND.

Shelby Lyons

Shelby is a grower from Ransom County, ND.

Chase Nelson

Chase is a grower from Cass County, ND.

Quinn Renfandt

Quinn is a grower from Ward County, ND.

Adam Spelhaug

Adam is a grower from Richland County, ND.

Mark Sumption

Mark is a grower from Brown County, SD.