Research Guidelines

Guidelines for research at the SAP

The GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project welcomes proposals from faculty and students who wish to study or contribute to the systems in place at the SAP. We envision the Sustainable Agriculture Project as an integrated, locally-based, small-scale (non-industrial) agricultural system for teaching and learning in the broadest sense. The proposers should address the impact of their project on the social, educational, environmental, economic, and aesthetic systems at the SAP both in the short and long term. As stated in the mission statement, the SAP fulfills many functions. Proposals should strive to minimize negative impact of any of these functions and, ideally, positively impact at least one.

Proposals should:

A. Show how the project aligns with the SAP mission.

Proposers should clearly show how the project goals contribute to the mission of the SAP by contributing to existing projects or by expanding the diversity of projects at the SAP and how it helps students and the broader community learn the major characteristics/attributes of sustainable small-scale agriculture.

In addition, the proposers should explain how the systems in place at the SAP make it the best setting at GVSU for carrying out the project.

B. Show evidence of involvement of the SAP community in the project design:

Every working farm is a community with its own practices and procedures. We invite you to consult with any member of the SAP community to help you understand that community as you develop your proposal. You should address to what extent your project design involves consultation or collaboration with students, staff, faculty and/or Farm Club at the SAP. Projects which have been designed with input from the staff, students or faculty and/or farm club involved in the SAP will have higher priority.

C. Show a positive impact and lack of negative impact on the other uses of the SAP:

Outline the specific elements of your project (i.e. what you propose to do, and how you will do it). Be explicit about the relationships between your project and the social, educational, environmental, economic and aesthetic systems of the SAP. Projects which negatively affect these systems, or the relationships between them, are less likely to be approved. Thus it is important to thoroughly address how the proposed project will affect current users and community members at the SAP. Questions such as these should be addressed where relevant for your particular project:


  1. What space will be required for the project?
  2. How long will the project be in place (Is there an end date? How will it be removed when complete, if applicable?)
  3. What additional resources at the SAP will be required (for example, parking, use of the house and grounds, caretaking and managing, water, nutrient resources, removal of the project once it is finished, etc.)?
  4. What resources will or may be ADDED to the SAP (eg. What plants will be planted and in what configuration?; What animals, tools, dollars, infrastructure, equipment, artwork, etc. will be added either temporarily or permanently?)?
  5. Economic impacts: Describe the positive and negative effects of your project on the economic and marketing activities at the SAP. (eg. What produce will be harvested and how will this be marketed or donated? How will the profits (if any) be used ?)
  6. Pest control: What strategy does the project involve for control of pests? (the SAP uses a strategy of polyculture to avoid the use of inorganic chemical pesticides and projects should conform to this strategy);
  7. Fertilizer: What strategy does the project involve for replenishing nutrients in the soil? (the SAP uses a strategy of regenerative, low-input, organic agriculture to replenish soil nutrients and projects should conform to this strategy):
  8. Impact on Student Experience: How will the project affect the experience of students at the farm (social; educational; aesthetic)?
  9. Impact on Education: How will you educate people about your project while on site at the SAP? (For example, will you post signs? Host groups?)