Sustainable Agriculture Place-Based Project Grant

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship welcomes proposals from faculty (tenure-line and affiliate) across the university who wish to collaborate with students to study the systems in place at the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) farm site(s).

This fund is supported by the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.

About the Award

The GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) is an integrated, locally-based, small-scale agricultural system for teaching and learning in the broadest sense. Projects involving the SAP should address any aspect of triple bottom line sustainability, meaning it can focus on any aspect of environmental, economic, and social justice impact associated with agriculture.

Funding of up to $6000 is available annually for supplies and materials to support such projects; this funding can be awarded to one project or divided among multiple projects. Please note this award does not include student stipends, unless students are doing work that would prepare the faculty member’s research to engage additional students over an extended period of time. For example, the grant can cover work that would increase research opportunities for faculty and students via a class project or pedagogical innovation, or to establish a project that can involve more students in the near future. The award does not include faculty stipend.

Proposals 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. The SAP fulfills many functions, which are described in the mission statement below. Proposals should strive to minimize negative impact of any of these functions and, ideally, positively impact at least one.

Funding is available to support:

  • Student-led scholarly or creative projects, mentored by a faculty member.
  • Faculty-led scholarly or creative projects involving undergraduate students.
  • Faculty-led scholarly or creative pilot or seed projects that involve undergraduate students.

We welcome applications from the arts and humanities, social sciences and policy, and physical and life sciences, including disciplinary or interdisciplinary scholarship/research or creative activity.

Possible projects could address disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches to:

  • Sustainable food systems.
  • Social and food justice.
  • The interface of food systems and community or global development.
  • Place-based food systems educational practices.
  • Community, public, or individual health or nutrition.
  • Design in food or agricultural education systems.
  • Interdisciplinary pedagogies and methodologies.
  • Ecologically durable, socially responsible, and economically viable agricultural practices.
  • Other projects, particularly those with interdisciplinary focus.

Funds will be available at the time of notification. Faculty members will be expected to attend an Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) mentorship program, as well as provide a summary description on their research and how undergraduate students can become involved.

Please note: if these funds are used for a seed project leading to a larger grant opportunity, twice the amount of the original seed grant or 25% of the college’s indirects (whichever is smaller) should go back to the SAP project fund.

Tenure-line and affiliate faculty

1. Seeding sustainable food practices: 
We foster sustainable farming practices to promote ecological and food literacy. The farm strives to implement intensive agricultural practices that are ecologically durable, socially responsible, and economically viable. We promote social and food justice, while exploring various means of sustainable food production.

2. Cultivating leadership and learning: We value student leadership with the continued mentoring and support of faculty and the farm manager. We foster student leadership through the Farm Club, volunteerism, internships, and student-led research. The farm is a student-led space. We value sustainable food system education that is rigorous and experiential. The project provides support to courses across the university. We encourage research projects that are student-initiated and/or interdisciplinary. We wish to foster collaboration and experimentation within all teaching and learning in the project.

3. Nurturing place: We value land and its ecological integrity. Place-based learning is at the heart of our work. The project sites provide places where the practical, political, ecological, and symbolic challenges of such work can be negotiated and explored.

4. Growing community: The project is rooted in community. We seek to grow relationships by providing a space for dialogue across disciplinary boundaries, the negotiation of interdisciplinary practices, and the contestation of ideas. The project is run as a collaborative effort among students, faculty, administrators, the Office of Sustainability Practices and Facilities Services & Planning.

How to Apply

Prepare the proposal per the requirements listed below. The proposal needs to be one complete PDF document that you will submit online. There is only one upload button, so please be sure your document is complete.


Proposal Requirements

The proposal must be one PDF, include the following sections, and adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Proposal Containing All Sections

  • Section 1: Project Description and Abstract
    • Provide a clear, concise description of the research project to be supported. Write this for a generalist audience. (Maximum 200 words)
  • Section 2: Engagement of Undergraduate Students
    • Explain how your research in this area will be inclusive of undergraduate researchers and scholars. (Maximum 200 words)
  • Section 3: Budget Justification
    • The budget justification should address the relevance of the proposed budget in terms of its relation to the proposed project. This section should also include a disclosure of all startup funds provided by internal and external sources. (No word limit)
  • Section 4: Project Description and Research Methodology
    • Clearly describe the research/scholarship to be supported and how the additional funds will allow for the inclusion of undergraduate students. (The project description must be single-spaced and cannot exceed 1000 words, excluding bibliography).
      • A. Show how the project aligns with the SAP mission: Proposals 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 proposals should explain how the systems in place at the SAP make it an ideal setting 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. To the extent possible, show a positive impact and lack of negative impact on the other uses of the SAP (we recognize that your research may be investigating the potential positive and negative impacts or that evidence may not exist either way): 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. What is the timeline for implementation of the project and research? 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 tools, dollars, infrastructure, equipment, artwork, etc. will be added either temporarily or permanently?) Please note: animals (poultry, mammals, reptiles) may not be added to the project.
        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?)? 

2. Updated Faculty CV

3. Faculty Research/Scholarship Statement: Demonstrate how this project fits with your larger scholarly/creative agenda

4. Letter of Support from Department Chair, or Unit Head

Grantee Responsibilities

Recipients of this grant are required to:

  • Submit a 1-2 page report within one year after the funds are granted or at the conclusion of the project. The report should describe what was accomplished, and include a copy of whatever final product was produced. The report must also be submitted to Scholar Works.
  • Present their work on and off campus as appropriate, such as at the Environmental Studies showcase, Student Scholars Day, or a professional conference.

Submit your Report

Page last modified January 22, 2018