The Research for Novel Approaches in Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program funds “proof of concept” applied research projects intended to confirm the benefits and/or feasibility of new practices and approaches that have high potential for adoption by farmers in the near future. These practices and approaches may be related to production, marketing, business management, human resource management and other social issues, or other topics related to sustainable agriculture. By “proof of concept,” we mean that evidence from prior experiments or pilot projects strongly suggests a practice or approach is beneficial and feasible, but additional testing, data and refinement is needed before recommending farmer adoption.
Research may be conducted through field trials, laboratory experiments and social science investigations. Exploratory research with little likelihood of determining feasibility for farmer adoption in the near-term will not be funded. There must be documented interest among farmers and service providers in utilizing or promoting the novel approach, should it be proven beneficial and feasible.
A wide variety of topics can be funded by Northeast SARE, including marketing and business, crop production, raising livestock, aquaculture, social sustainability, urban and Indigenous agriculture and much more. Other aspects of projects funded through the Northeast SARE program include those that address climate-smart agriculture practices intended to improve ecological, social, and economic resilience to climate change; increase carbon sequestration; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate-smart practices include reduced and no-till, cover crops, prescribed grazing, ruminant feed management, manure management, fertilizer management, and on-farm energy efficiency. In addition, projects may address traditional ecological knowledge.
Northeast SARE’s Administrative Council has approved a one-year pause in four of our seven regional grant programs, including the Research for Novel Approaches Grant Program. The purpose of the pause is to increase our capacity to work on implementation of Northeast SARE's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) strategic plan. You can read more about the pause here.
Preproposals are required for the Research for Novel Approaches Grant Program. The preproposal is a preliminary concept document that allows SARE reviewers to select which projects to invite to submit full proposals. Proposals are only invited if they have strong, data-based justification, a clear and measurable performance target, and effective educational approaches.
Only invited preproposal applicants are eligible to submit a full proposal.
Preproposals for this grant program are typically due in mid-summer and invited full proposals are usually due in the fall. To find out when this program next opens for applications, sign up for our newsletters.
Research for Novel Approaches grants are open to anyone who works with farmers, including personnel at nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, Cooperative Extension, municipalities, tribal governments, state departments of agriculture, federal agencies, research farms and experiment stations, for-profit business entities (such as private consultants, farmers and veterinary practices), etc.
Northeast SARE encourages projects submitted from or in collaboration with women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Additionally, we encourage projects submitted from or in collaboration with Minority Serving Institutions (including 1890s and other historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and tribal colleges and universities) and other organizations in the Northeast that work with historically underserved communities.
Your organization must have the legal structure and financial capacity to receive and implement a Northeast SARE contract, including expending funds needed for the project prior to receiving reimbursements from Northeast SARE; advance payments are not possible.
Projects must take place within the Northeast region. Applicants and host organizations may be located outside of the Northeast region if the project activities and the farmers served are located within the Northeast region.
Awards typically range from $30,000 to $200,000. Funding requests should align with project duration, scope of the work, and intensity of interaction with beneficiaries. Amounts higher than the typical range will be considered based on project complexity and duration.
In previous years, about one-third of preproposals have been invited to submit full proposals, and about one-third of full proposal submissions have been awarded. Eight to twelve awards are typically made each year, depending on available funding.
Typical project length is 2 to 3 years. The maximum project length allowed is 3.5 years.
If you have questions about the Research for Novel Approaches in Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program, please contact grant coordinator Kali McPeters.