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  • Proposal Submission Deadline: December 6, 2019
  • Download RFP

The Horticulture Section in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) requests proposals for innovative research, teaching and extension/outreach projects involving organics and sustainability in farm and food systems, and managed landscapes including gardens and green spaces. A gift from the Toward Sustainability Foundation (TSF) will provide support for successful proposals during calendar year 2020. Short proposals are requested with a 6-page maximum (single spaced including an itemized budget, extra pages are allowed for the literature cited section). We invite grant proposals from Cornell University faculty and associates as well as county and regional based Cornell Cooperative Extension educators. Cornell student-led proposals are welcome for state, national or international research, but a Cornell faculty member must indicate his or her commitment to help guide and serve as an advisor for the proposal.

Project proposals will be reviewed and considered for funding up to a maximum $12,000 level, but PIs are encouraged to leverage and combine TSF funds with other sources of financial support to foster more ambitious projects. The project term is Feb. 1, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021. Multiyear projects may be eligible for continued TSF funding, but a renewal proposal and progress report will be required for each year of TSF support, and the entire cohort of proposals will be reviewed collectively each year, so there is no guarantee of continued funding for multi-year projects. Use of TSF grant funds is restricted to student or staff wages and salaries, materials and supplies, essential travel related directly to the project, and other essential expenses of the proposed activities. Each funded project is required to contribute 1) a 20-minute oral presentation at an October 2020 review day and 2) a comprehensive final report including project outcomes and impacts due by March 31, 2021. Final project reports will be made available to interested stakeholders via the Internet and in printed form, and should include figures, tables, photographs, and other appropriate documentation for each project, written in a style and form accessible to non-scientists.

For additional information please contact Neil Mattson:

Goals of the TSF Organics & Sustainability Grants Program for 2020:

  • Develop, evaluate, strengthen, and disseminate knowledge about organic and sustainable farming,food systems, gardening and landscapes.
  • Encourage and support systems-level studies on environmental and economic impacts, energy efficiency, social equality, and local or regional sustainability of agriculture and food systems.
  • Improve and expand organic and sustainability systems knowledge and information through educator enrichment within the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and Master Gardener Volunteer and youth development networks, within Cornell’s teaching programs, and at farms or demonstration sites, agricultural and food processing facilities, schools, and public educational settings throughout New York State and the Northeast.
  • Promote novel and transformative approaches for research, extension, and teaching programs that enhance integrated learning and the knowledge foundation for organic and sustainable farming,gardening, and landscaping.

Priorities for Funding in 2020:

  • Projects that are considered seed projects to explore new research and help the PI be successful with further funding opportunities
  • Projects that involve Cornell undergraduate or graduate students in international research.
  • Projects that substantially involve undergraduate or graduate student researchers.
  • Projects that substantially involve county or region-based CCE educators. Projects that promote understanding of ecosystem services and environmental impacts of organic and alternative farms, gardens, natural areas, and managed landscapes.
  • Projects that use novel approaches to address sustainable local food systems including urban agriculture.

Format for Proposals

6 pages maximum, plus literature cited.

Project/Program Title: Brief, clear, specific description of the proposed work.

Principal Investigators and Cooperators: Names, titles, contact addresses and email addresses for those who will lead and collaborate in the proposed work and their primary roles.

Category: For review purposes, please indicate which one of these categories you would like your project to be reviewed under: Farm and Food Systems, Managed Landscapes, Community Sustainability, or International Project.

Background/Justification: Describe the importance of the proposed research to stated goals and priorities of this grants program. Include reasons for doing the work, important problems or opportunities your proposal will address, needs your project will fulfill, and its intended beneficiaries.

Specific Objectives: Provide clear, complete, logically arranged statements of the specific objectives and testable hypotheses for your project, and its measurable outcomes relating to sustainability.

Approach/Methods: Briefly describe the overall strategy and methods proposed to achieve your objectives, the site(s) where research will be located, and innovative features of your approach relative to previous efforts and demonstrable needs.

Intended Outcomes and Impacts: Describe expected outcomes and ways in which your project could enhance knowledge or improve energy efficiency, environmental or economic impacts, and other important attributes in organic farming and food systems sustainability.

Budget: Funding is allowed for direct costs and staff or student wages/salaries. Proposal budgets must itemize Direct Costs including wages and fringes (the Cornell-campus fringe is 64.5% for this period, if off-campus use your organization’s own justifiable fringe rate), materials and supplies, analytical costs, and essential travel to conduct the proposed work. For undergraduate or graduate student salary, fringes should not be requested. Total funding requests are limited to $12,000 per year (as noted above) including indirect costs of 10% on the total of all direct costs. County/regional CCE requests can add their own justifiable indirect before the 10% Cornell indirect. Project funds remaining unspent on Feb. 1, 2020 will be reclaimed for use by other TSF-funded projects in future years.

Sample Budget

Salary: $5,000
64.5% Fringes: $3,227
Total Salary & Fringes: $8,227
Supplies & Materials: $1,400
Travel : $300
Total Direct Costs: $9,927
Indirect Costs Cornell 10%: $993
Total Direct & IDC: $10,920

Completed proposals must be received on or before December 6, 2019 to be eligible for funding. (email submissions in PDF format are preferable). Please submit proposals to: Mandy Kafka ( Horticulture Section, 135 Plant Science Bldg., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. Proposals will be evaluated and prioritized for funding by a review panel of Cornell faculty, staff, students, organic farmers and other qualified experts. Project leaders of all successful proposals will be notified in late January, 2020. For additional information please contact Mandy Kafka (, or Neil Mattson (

Projects funded in 2019

Publication of the book - Our changing menu: What climate change means to the foods you need and love. Hoffmann, M., Eiseman, D., Koplinka-Loehr, C.

Understanding Water Relations in Stacked Weed Management Strategies for Organic, High-Density Apple Production

Brown, K., Peck, G., Zakalik, D., Brown, M.

Sustainable Agriculture, Biological Control, and Invasive Species: Assessing the role of intercropping and natural enemies in controlling a new invasive maize pest in Kenya - Year 2 Luttermoser, T., Poveda, K., Khan, Z., Midega, C.

Expanding the Use of Compost for On-site Urban Soil Remediation

Bassuk, N., Heyman, H., Bonhotl, J., Walter, T., Grace, J.

Ecological Gardening in Upstate New York: A Month-by-Month Guide to Sustainably Growing Food, Habitat, and Beauty Cramer, J.

Assessing methods for and benefits of establishing beneficial insect habitat for growers and gardeners

Lamb, E., Eshenaur, B., Dunn, A., McArt, S., Brown, B.

Nitrogen for Northeast Winter Greens - Sustainable Inputs Reid, J., Vore, C., Arnold, P., Arnold, S., Leonard, B., Hoover, N., Davis, M., Printz, M.

Spatial Risk Mapping of Sustainable Food Systems Threatened by Conflicts with Andean Bears in the Western Ecuadorian Andes

Fuller, A., Stedman, R., Garcia Llore, S.

Biofuels and Slow Release Fertilizers for Sustainable Farm & Food Production Waste Management Goldfarb, J., Fiori, L., Ceylan, S.

Strong Roots Community Garden High-Tunnel Project

Bonaparte, J., Hetzler, P., Filippi, M., O'Neil, K., Berlingi, J., Gabriel, V., Davis, M., Tarver, T., Santos, B., Bucktooth, S., Cree, E., Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Diabetes Center, Akesasne Boys and Girls Club, Akesasne Area Management Board

Curriculum Development for the Tiger Farm School Apple Orchard Neal, B.

Projects funded in 2018

Developing improved trainings and outreach programs about botanical pesticides for Malawi smallholder farmers

Kerr, R., Enloe, S., Iverson, A., Dakishoni, L.

Sustainable Agriculture, Biological Control, and Invasive Species: Assessing the role of intercropping and natural enemies in controlling a new invasive maize pest in Kenya

Luttermoser, T., Poveda, K., Midega, C.

Evaluation of Vegetable Varieties for Organic Vegetable Production for Both Urban and Rural Farms

Telenko, D., Burley, M., Pozentides, M.

Land Use Planning to Carry Out Terms of the Blackfeet Water Compact In Collaboration with the Blackfeet Nation

Berger, A., Davis, B., Cerra, J., Birdrattler, L., Kunkel, J., Corum, N.

Sustainable Home Gardening: Communicating an Integrated Approach and Best Practices for soil health, biological diversity and improved gardening practices

Tomaselli, J., Morrill, A., MGV Coordinators in Lower Hudson Valley

Connecting Consumer Acceptability and Farm Productivity to Improve
Collard Varieties for East African Growers

Swegarden, H., Griffiths, P., Wasonga, C., Nyambok, D., Dinssa, F.

Designing labor-­‐saving weed management strategies for reduced tillage organic vegetables (Year 2)

Rylander, H., Rangarajan, A., Maher, R., Caldwell, B., Butler-Jones, A.

Promoting a sustainable framework for tree growth and carbon storage in managed forests under drought

Zwetsloot, M., Bauerle, T., Grams, T.

Cost Effective Major Weed Remediation in Organic Systems

Sannes, N., Leonard, B., DiTommaso, T., Ryan, M.

Screening Table Beet Cultivars for Susceptibility to Phoma Leaf Spot and Horticultural Characteristics Under New York Growing Conditions

Pethybridge, S., Kikkert, J.

Tiger Farm Teaching Orchard

Neal, B., Taylor, S., Eckstrom, N.

Rainwater Collection and Irrigation Demonstration Site at Cutler Botanic Garden, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Broome County

Svoboda, L., Roberts, B., Mathers, K., Zapata, J.


Projects funded in 2017

Project Principal investigators
and cooperato

Dilmun Hill: A Small-Farm Cultivator Tractor for Student-Led Research, Education and Outreach

Evans, G., DiTomasso, T., Leonard, B., Caldwell, B., Ryan, M., Schindelbeck, R., Maher, R., Pritts, M., Russell-Anelli, J., Puka-Beals, J.

Modifying Shoot Tip Management to Reduce Cluster Compactness and Fungicide Use in Grapes

Kearney, A., Vanden Heuvel, J., Schmit, T., Wise, A.

Designing Labor-saving Weed Management Strategies for Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables

Maher, R., Rangarajan, A., Caldwell, B.

Organic Management of Cercospora Leaf Spot in Table Beets

Kikkert, J., Pethybridge, S.

Evaluation and Demonstration of Integrated Disease and Weed Management Options for Organic Vegetable Productions: Year Two

Telenko, D., Hadad, R., Reid, J., Walley-Stoll, K.

Prevention of Brassica Crop Losses From New Invasive Species, Swede Midge on At‐risk Small‐scale Organic farms: Part III

Hoepting, C., Erik, Printz, M., Chen, Y.

Continuing Best Management Practices for Longterm High Tunnel Soil Sustainability

Reid, J., Hall, C., Ramsey, E.

Development of Hydroponic Production Systems for Strawberry Production

Timmons, M., Mattson, N., Joyce, L., Gandelman, A., Doyle-Burr, S.

Why Compost: Communicating the Positive Effect of Organic Material on Soil Health and Water and Nutrient Management in Sustainable Home Gardens

Tomaselli, J., Morrill, A., Stengle, J., Christian-Reuter, A., Valenti, D., Lester, D., Albam, A., Crawford, D., Shayler, H.

Compost Quality for Urban Soil Remediation

Bassuk, N., Neal, B., Grace, J., Van Es, H., Ristow, A., Fraccaroli, C.

Evaluation of Biopesticides for Control of Botrytis Bunch Rot and Sour Rot in Winegrapes

Wise, A., Wilcox, W.

Projects funded in 2016

Project Principal investigators
and cooperato

Evaluation & Demonstration of Integrated Disease & Weed Management Options for Organic Vegetable Production

Telenko, D., Hadad, R., Reid, J., Walley-Stoll, K.

Bee Friendly Backyards: Promoting Landscape Practices that Support Pollinators & other Beneficial Insects

Stengle, J., Mullen, E., Lamb, E.

Assessing Growers, Consumers, and University Stakeholders Understanding of Sustainable Fruit Production

Peck, G., Xin, S.

Healthy Soils for Healthy Food: Refining Best Practices for Compost Use in Urban Gardens

Shayler, H., McBride,M., Bonhotal, J., Russell-Anelli, J., Cheng,Z., Spliethoff, H.

Prevention of Brassica crop losses from new invasive species, swede midge on at-risk small-scale organic farms: part ll

Hoepting, C., Martin, L., Johns,L., Printz, M.,Fellenz, A.

Best Management Practices for long term high tunnel soil sustainability

Reid, J., Fellenz, A., Hall, C., Hutchinson, A.

Field -test Gardening in a Warming World: A Guide for Garden-Based Educators & Volunteers

Brewer, L, Walsh, M., Nelson, W.

Evaluating soil water dynamics in reduced tillage organic vegetable systems

Maher, R., Rangarajan, A.

Investigating under-vine cover crops to eliminate herbicide use & reduce management costs in vigorous vineyards in the Finger Lakes region

Chou, M., Vanden Heuvel, J., Mansfield, A.,

Silicon-mediated alteration of plant secondary metabolism & its effects on plant direct & indirect resistance to herbivory

Kessler, A., Mattson, N.

Dilmun Hill: High Tunnel for Student-Led Education, Research, and Production

Hutchinson, A., etc.

Cover crop & weed Management in a living mulch plus reduced-rate herbicide system for wide-row vegetables

DiTommaso, A., Bhaskar, V.

Projects funded in 2015

Project Principal investigators
and cooperato

Soilless Media for Sustainable Rooftop Farming

Whitlow, T, Harada, Y

Prevention of Brassica crop losses from new invasive species, swede midge on at-risk small-scale organic farms

Hoepting, C, Chen, Y, Khodorkovskie, S,

Growing Organic Grains for Local Specialty Markets

Kiraly, M, Aldrich, J,Bergstrom, G, DiTommaso, A, 

Development and Extension of Improved Organic Apple Production Technology for the Eastern USA

Agnello, A, Robinson, T, Cox, K, Jentsch, P

Investigating Mechanisms for Vermicompost Promotion of Tomato Growth in Organic Production Systems

Brace, S, Ucros, J, Kao-Kniffin, J, Mattson, N

Sustainable Production of Common Beans in East Africa Through Improvement of Plant Architecture

Griffiths, P

Bee clubs and best practices: Social learning and politics in NYS's beekeeping associations

Andrews, E, McMichael, P

Investigating under-vine cover crops to eliminate herbicide use and reduce management costs in vigorous vineyards in the Finger Lakes region

Chou, Ming-Yi, Vanden Heuvel, J, Mansfield, A,Weimann, D

Energy efficient weed management strategies in no-till permanent vegetable beds

Prisloe, A, DiTomasso, A, Ryan, M

Testing a Sustainable Model for Striped Cucumber Beetle Management in Zucchini

Hoffmann, M, Mazourek, M, Brzozowski, L

Developing a guide for CCE Educators and Master Gardener Volunteers on organic and sustainable gardening techniques for climate change adaptation and mitigation

Nelson, W, Walsh, M, Brewer, L

Tioga County Demonstration Garden: Sustainable Residential Landscape, Herb Garden and Butterfly Garden

Neal, B

Projects funded in 2014

Project Principal investigators
and cooperato
Producing syrup from black walnut trees: A niche marketing opportunity for sugarmakers Mudge, K, Farrell, M
Arsenic Accumulation in Arugula:  A Multi-Faceted Solution in Companion Cropping Lim, M, Kessler, A, McBride, Murray
Development of Plant Microbiomes to Enhance Nutrient Use Efficiency in Crops Ucros, J, Kao-Kniffin, J
Identification and Application of Organic Fertilizers in Hydroponic Production Timmons, M, Mattson, N
Organic Sustainability Demonstration Plot at the St. Lawrence County CCE Learning Farm: Fruit & Nut Production with Rotational Grazing Ames, P, Brewer, L, Gabriel, S, O'Neil, K, Buchanan, B, Hetzler,P, Hodge, B, Collarusso, K
Interactions Between Plant Viruses & Nitrogen-fixing Bacteria: Implications for Organic Bean Production Marchetto, K, Power, A, Kessler, A
Is Augmentative Biological Control Useful in Complex Landscapes? Perez-Alvarez, R, Poveda,K
Testing the Feasibility of Stropharia rugoso-annulata Mushroom Cultivation in Community Gardens on Shrub Willow (Salix spp.) & Ash (Fraxinus spp.) wood chips Lyons, J, Smart, L, Fabio, E, Brown, S
Long Term Remediation of Urban Soils With Organic Amendments Bassuk, N, Sax, M, VanEs, H, Rakow, D
Demonstrating Climate Change Effects Using a High Tunnel Wien, C, Cerra, J, Skelly, Bassuk, N, Levy, D, Lekstutis, I
Promoting Indigenous Plant Knowledge for Sustainable Food Systems in the Ethiopian Highlands Ruelle, M, Kassam, K
A New Model for CCE Master Gardener Volunteer Training Incorporating Integrated Learning Practices Gardener, C, Brewer, L

For additional information please contact Neil Mattson (