Northeast SARE Large Grants Webinar

Recorded on June 24, 2021, this webinar recording describes the Northeast SARE Research and Education, Research for Novel Approaches and Professional Development Grant Programs.

Header text

Header text

Webinar Participant Questions & Answers

The following questions were generated by participants at the live broadcast of the webinar and are posted here for your information. If you have a question not included below, please contact the grant coordinator for the Grant Program of interest to you.

Question for Northeast SARE grantee Sarah Williford

Sarah Williford joined our grant coordinators at the webinar to share experiences about applying for and managing a Northeast SARE grant. Sarah is a farmer and worked through the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship to administer a Professional Development Grant project called, "Improving Whole Farm Planning Education in the Northeast."

  • How did you focus on your target farmers? Was that through the survey you created?
    • Thank you for your question. So the survey I created targeted interest from Technical Service Providers (TSPs). We had 80 TSPs respond letting me know of their interest in a Whole Farm Planning program and which categories of learning were most interesting to them, as well as learning online vs. in person. 29 TSP participants were chosen from a pool of applicants. It was the TSP participants of the program who chose which farmers to work with. The program supported them in their outreach to farmers and choices of who to work with through advice and guidance such as "Work with farmers you know and let them know you’ll be learning info and then working with them right away as you learn”, “Create a cohort of farmers that all meet at once or do one on one, whichever you are comfortable with so that you’ll have the best follow through results.” “Share the materials you create and agreement forms you create with your peer TSPs in the program, we learn from one another”.

General Questions

  • How many projects may be submitted?
    • Applicants may submit up to two preproposals in each of the three programs (six total). Applicants may only submit one full proposal, total.
  • Is there a cap on the number of preproposals submitted by a single PI, if they already have a current funded NESARE grant?
    • No. So long as you are current in your current SARE grant reports, you are eligible to apply. However, applicants may submit up to two preproposals for each of the three programs (six total). Applicants may only submit one full proposal, total, per year.
  • Can an applicant apply and be funded in two consecutive years?
    • Yes, as long as you are current in the reporting of your current SARE grant(s), you are eligible to apply.
  • If you make a request for a specific amount of money, and that amount is rejected, is it still possible to receive a lesser amount decided upon by SARE? or are we out of luck?
    • Northeast SARE does not award partial funding.
  • How many grants do you expect to fund in each category, i.e. is there a max amount of funds available in total for each grant?
    • Northeast SARE’s Administrative Council has allocated the following to fund projects for this cycle. There are no funding caps but typical funding ranges follow.
      • $2 million for the Research and Education Grant Program; we estimate that 10 to 15 awards will be made. Proposals funded typically range from $30,000 to $250,000 depending upon the project’s complexity and duration.
      • $1.5 million for the Research for Novel Approaches Grant Program; we estimate that 8 to 12 awards will be made. Proposals funded typically range from $30,000 to $200,000 depending upon the project’s complexity and duration.
      • $1 million for the Professional Development Grant Program; we estimate that 8 to 12 awards will be made. Proposals funded typically range from $30,000 to $150,000 depending upon the project’s complexity and duration.
  • Can you repeat the calendar dates, please.
    • Preproposal submission deadline: 5 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021
    • Applicants notified whether or not they are invited to submit a full proposal: August 30,  2021
    • Feedback sent to applicants: September 2021
    • Full proposal submission deadline: 5 p.m. ET, October 26, 2021
    • Award decisions announced to applicants: Late February 2022
    • Contract start date for awarded projects: March 1, 2022
  • Funding is reimbursement? What is the frequency for reimbursement submissions and time to receive funds from submission? No matching funds?
    • Northeast SARE does not require matching funds. Yes, funds are available on a reimbursement basis. Invoices can be submitted as often as monthly and are usually processed on net 30 terms. Processing the first payment may take six to seven weeks as the new award is set up. Northeast SARE will hold your final invoice or the final 10 percent (whichever comes first) until your final report is approved.
  • In terms of the question about the request for the whole budget request. Do you prefer to fund the whole of a project or do you like to see others funding into the project as well and that we request for a portion of the project and show that there is another funder who would be also funding the project?
    • We recognize that project work may, at times, require a number of funders. We ask that applicants be clear about what Northeast SARE funds are being used for and that the proposed work be able to be conducted regardless of other funding streams.
  • Can reimbursement be for salaries / hourly wages?
    • Yes, Northeast SARE funding may be and is often used for personnel expenses.
  • Can the project be a repeat or expansion of a successful past project?
    • Northeast SARE has funded proposals that build on past work, when the applicant makes a solid case that the proposed work expands farmer adoption and behavior change that leads to greater sustainability.
  • Do reviewers offer grading/suggestions to improve proposals for future applications if first application does not receive funding? If the preproposal is rejected, do applicants receive feedback at that stage?
    • Yes, Northeast SARE does provide feedback to all applicants whose preproposals are not invited to submit full proposals, and to applicants whose full proposals are not funded.
  •  Do you have an accessible database of previously funded projects? I'd like to know the range of activities that grant supports.
    • Yes, please visit our national Grants Management System -- you can search the reports for all funded projects in the Northeast and other regions. 
  • Can you describe the “advisory committee“?
    • An advisory committee is required for all large grant programs and provides input into proposal development and is engaged throughout the project.
      A description of the advisory committee is not required at the preproposal stage but is required for full proposals. The project’s advisory committee must include at least two farmers and one agricultural service provider (eg., Extension, NRCS or other federal or state agency, private or non-profit organizations, veterinarian, or other farm advisor). Additional people representing other affiliations, such as researchers, may also be included on the committee. The committee does not include Key Individuals, but may include others involved in the project. 
  • Please confirm that aquaculture qualifies as a farm.
    • Yes, Northeast SARE does include aquaculture as a farming enterprise and has routinely funded aquaculture projects. For more information on eligible farms, please see Northeast SARE's Definition of a Farm
  • Is research in urban farming and urban gardening funded by SARE?
    • Yes, Northeast does fund and has funded urban agriculture projects.
  • Trying to see if we could somehow fit teens learning about farming and composting into one of these grants.
    • While the primary target audience for all of our grant programs are farmers, there may be creative ways to involve teenagers and young adults in your farmer education programming or applied research. Please know, however, that Northeast SARE does not fund K-12 educational activities. For more information on eligible farming activities, please see Northeast SARE's Definition of a Farm
  • In regards to the research, are laboratory experiments more valuable or more likely to be awarded over sociological data?
    • Northeast SARE funds both social and natural science projects -- competitiveness is dependent on the applicant’s ability to make a clear and compelling case that the work is needed and will have an impact on farmers and the agricultural community.
  • How does the proposal workflow go in partnerships between academics and private business?
    • The applicant may be located in either category and if the project proposes a multi-organizational/institutional partnership, that is handled by including subawards, contractors, or other arrangements.
  • As a small sustainable farmer, I would like to improve on the practice of carbon sequestration, hence enhancing soil carbon.
    • This is wonderful; we’d encourage you to consider our Farmer Grant program for this work. If you are interested in enhancing research and education which includes other farmers or service providers, then one of the larger grant programs mentioned in our webinar may be appropriate.
  • Opportunity Zones restoration of degraded land through reforestation.
    • Northeast SARE focuses on farming and sustainable agriculture. This project idea could fit if the proposal makes a case of how it would benefit farming, perhaps through agroforestry, etc. For more information on eligible farming activities, please see Northeast SARE's Definition of a Farm
  • What resources do you have for early career faculty?
    • Early career faculty are very welcome to apply to our grant programs. Our advice includes carefully reading the Call for Preproposals, start drafting your application early, have someone unfamiliar with your project idea read and edit your proposal, review projects that have been funded in the past, and contact our grant coordinators if you get stuck or otherwise have questions. 
  • Do you support interdisciplinary research?
    • Yes. We encourage whole farm approaches, interdisciplinary research and collaborations when possible, especially when farmers are directly engaged. In addition, we encourage submissions from or collaborations with women, the LGBTQ+ 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 underrepresented communities.
  • Can you tell me more about the application's outcome assessment?
    • For all funded projects, we require an annual progress and final report that capture both outputs and outcomes. For the Research and Education and Professional Development Grant Programs, we use performance targets as a tool to describe desired project outcomes. We also ask for a verification plan in full proposals to describe how applicants will learn to extent to which the performance targets were achieved. Please see our Guide to Outcome Funding for more guidance. Note: A verification plan is not required at the preproposal stage.
  • What are examples of eligible or ineligible crops?

Research and Education Grant Questions

  • Is it possible to include a train-the-trainer component into a Research and Education Project?
    • While it is possible to include professional development training for service providers, the target audience of educational activities for Research and Education Grants should be farmers. A Professional Development Grant may be more appropriate for your project.
  • Question for Research and Education Grant program: So we have to present a list of farmers who will be involved ?
    • Strong Research and Education Grant proposals include clear descriptions of what communities of farmers are the primary audience for educational activities and who have interest in any proposed research. They will also need to identify at least two farmers for the advisory committee. Otherwise, specific farm names do not need to be provided.

Research for Novel Approaches Grant Questions

  • What is truly "novel"? If something has been tried elsewhere but not applied, or widely applied, in the Northeast, would that be novel?
    • Yes, the approach can have been tried and successful in other regions and still be considered novel. In fact, these experiences can serve as prior research findings to strongly suggest the novel approach has potential to be feasible on farms in the Northeast as well. Just remember that it is important that your project makes the case to reviewers that more research is needed before the approach can be widely adopted here in the Northeast. Successful proposals make clear that a knowledge gap (a specific lack of data) exists in preventing the adoption of the approach without additional work. 
  • For the Research for Novel Approaches program, how in depth should the farmer engagement descriptions be in the preproposal?
    • Your preproposal should present a clear plan for engaging farmers in both the research and outreach of the project. Reviewers want to know how farmers will be involved during your project activities (farmer surveys, on-farm trials, farmers assisting with fieldwork etc.) and how you will conduct outreach to disseminate knowledge about your findings (field days, grower groups, conferences, publications, Extension partners etc.) 
  • Can a Farmer apply for the Research for Novel Approaches?
    • Yes, farmers are eligible to apply.
  • Can Research for Novel Approaches include behavioral research?
    • Yes, both the Research for Novel Approaches and Research and Education Grant Programs invite a full range of social science research.
  • If the plan of work is novel but has marketing/promo implications, does it still fit the guidelines?  
    • Depends – is it for the benefit of farmers or service providers who work with farmers? Then, yes, probably. All product testing and development supported by SARE funds must have a public benefit and results must be widely available to the farm community. The results of the testing or development must not be for the sole benefit or financial interest of the applicant or a private enterprise. If an applicant wants to keep the information developed secret, the proposal is not eligible for Northeast SARE funds.
  • Are there limitations on purchasing field and lab equipment in the grants for Research for Novel Approaches?
    • Equipment that are necessary for, and unique to, the project are eligible expenses in SARE grants. Equipment with general uses (like a computer or tractor) are not eligible. Please see the Use of Funds section in the Call for Preproposals or contact the grant coordinator for more information.