Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Small Grants Program

The 2021-22 Call for Proposals closed on February 15, 2021.

Background & Priority Areas


The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP) is a statewide program of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). UC SAREP envisions a food and farming system that: 

  • supports resilience through diversified production, marketing, and distribution systems,
  • values all food system workers and supports their physical, economic, and social wellbeing,
  • contributes to the health and vitality of both urban and rural communities,
  • is environmentally regenerative, using resources for production and distribution in a way that protects the environment in trust for future generations, including under changing climate conditions, and   
  • is culturally responsive and reflects the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of California. 


Program Priority Areas

UC SAREP will fund projects that fall within two priority areas:

1. Support California’s farmers and ranchers of all scales in identifying, piloting, and transitioning to:

  • environmentally regenerative approaches to producing crops and livestock (including but not limited to soil health, organic and agroecological practices, integrated pest management, crop diversification);
  • pathways for realizing economic return from ecologically-sound crop management practices and fair labor practices;
  • marketing and distribution strategies that support diversified and decentralized supply chains; and
  • strategies that increase active community engagement in food and farming systems.


2. Support California’s rural and urban communities to identify, implement, and evaluate strategies to:

  • expand access to healthy, sustainably produced, culturally appropriate foods;
  • ensure worker wellbeing across the food chain;
  • minimize the community and environmental costs of food production and distribution; and
  • strengthen connections between consumers and producers.


Priority will be given to projects that benefit socially disadvantaged communities and/or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. A map of disadvantaged communities in California can be found at A “socially disadvantaged group” means a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination. These groups include the following: African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Female farmers and ranchers of color (2020 Report to the California Legislature on the Farmer Equity Act).

Who May Apply

Who May Apply

Eligible applicants include California-based farm or food system businesses1 and those affiliated with California non-profit, tax-exempt organizations, state and local government agencies, and California public and private institutions of higher education2. "California non-profit, tax-exempt organization" is defined as any organization which is operating in California and legally exempt from taxes imposed by the California Franchise Tax Board's revenue and taxation codes. UC SAREP staff are not eligible to participate as an investigator or cooperator on any project. 


Priority is also given to projects that foster cross-collaborations between multiple types of applicants, contributing to a unified approach in addressing core areas of concern. For example, partnerships may involve farmers/ranchers working with agricultural or food system professionals. These professionals can include staff of community groups and/or non-profit organizations, public agencies, UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, and researchers at community colleges or other institutions of higher education. Any of these partners can be the lead applicant organization. Please contact us if you have any questions.

  • 1. Business applicants must demonstrate benefit beyond the immediate recipients. Grants will not be awarded for the sole purpose of purchasing equipment or making infrastructure improvements at individual farms or businesses.
  • 2. Organizational applicants must demonstrate meaningful collaboration and involvement of stakeholders in the design and execution of the project.

Funding Available

Funding Available

Total funding will be approximately $80,000. Individual grants will be limited to a maximum of $7,000. Grantees will be notified by March 19, 2021. Funds are expected to be available by June 1, 2021. Due to the limited funds available, only one-year projects will be considered. 

Proposal Categories

Proposal Categories 

Proposals are requested for three types of projects: 

  • Planning Grants
  • Education and Outreach Grants
  • Applied Research Grants

Each proposal must address one or more priority areas as listed above.


Category 1: Planning Grants 

Planning grants are intended to support processes that bring together diverse stakeholders to plan for larger, more complex research and outreach projects for which larger funds are being sought.

Examples of previously funded Planning projects include: the creation of a new food policy council; exploring how green jobs for women farmworkers can improve their working conditions and the well-being of their communities; building a research team and developing plans for conducting a life cycle analysis of California’s beef production system; and community food access planning in East Salinas.


Category 2: Education and Outreach Grants

Education and outreach grants include educational events, materials and outreach components of research projects.

Examples of previously funded Education and Outreach projects include: providing legal guidance to low-income entrepreneurs interested in urban and suburban farming, home-based food businesses and cooperatively owned agricultural companies in the San Francisco Bay Area; helping Southeast Asian and other small farmers in Sacramento connect with processors and buyers; supporting gardening instruction, nutrition lessons, and cooking demonstrations in Los Angeles County; and developing and documenting opportunities and success stories for ecosystem services provided by rangeland stewardship.


Category 3: Applied Research Grants                           

These projects are intended to fund original, applied research in the above Program Priority Areas. For example, research might investigate the socio-economic impacts on farmworkers of climate change adaptation measures adopted within California agricultural systems. Research can also address other original issues, and should include an outreach component.


For a full list of previously funded projects by this program, go to

Proposal Requirements

Proposal Requirements


Proposal Narrative (sections A-F)

All proposal narratives should address the following points. These will also serve as criteria against which proposals will be judged.

The proposal narrative (sections A-F) should not exceed 5 single-spaced pages, 12-point font, including tables, figures, and photos. Figure and table legends cannot be smaller than 10-point font.


A. Relevance to Priority Areas/Topics

  • State which category your proposal is; which priority area your project relates to; and specifically which priority topic you are addressing (if relevant). Describe how your project helps address the issues outlined for that priority. Indicate (if applicable) which socially disadvantaged communities and/or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers your project will benefit.


B. Relevance to Target Audience

  • Define the target audience(s)/community for the project. If the primary applicant is a business, it is essential to describe the stakeholders beyond your operation who will be involved in the project. 
  • Describe the importance (need) of the proposed project to this audience.
  • Describe how the target audience/community will be involved in the development and implementation of the project.


C. Goals and Objectives

  • Based on the needs of your target audience, state the goal(s) for the project. Goals are purpose statements about what you want the project to accomplish, or what specific changes you aim to achieve in the world. (They are not activities.)
  • Under each goal, state measurable, outcome-oriented objectives necessary to reach that goal. Objectives are the specific actions you will undertake to achieve your stated goals.


D. Methods/Activities/Timetable

  • For research and education/outreach projects, describe and justify your methods. For planning grants, describe and justify your activities.
  • Include a timetable linked to the various activities and phases of the project. Funding is available for one-year projects only.


E. Products 

  • Projects should include tangible products (for example, publications, web pages, social media posts, videos, radio shows, public art, decision support tools, reports, workshops and related materials, etc.). Innovative use of media is encouraged.
  • Describe how information and results from this project will be extended to the target audience/community, and beyond to other potential statewide audiences.
  • Planning Grant projects should articulate benefits and provide evidence that the planning will be used for a future research/extension proposal.


F. Evaluation/Lessons Learned

  • Describe how you plan to evaluate and measure whether your stated objectives were met.
  • Describe your plans for maintaining or expanding your project in the future (if relevant).


G. Capabilities of Investigators and Cooperators (not part of 5-page limit)

  • Describe the specific roles and capabilities of each project participant as it relates to the proposed project 
  • Attach an abbreviated CV or resume (two page limit) for each applicant including past experience with similar projects/activities.
  • Attach a letter of support from each cooperating organization, agency, or business. Letters should state how the organization will participate in the project.


Budget Requirements (section H)

  • Provide a complete budget in the indicated format and a separate budget justification that includes how line items are calculated. 
  • Projects may begin as soon as June 1, 2021 and must be completed by May 31, 2022.
  • Small1 non-governmental organizations and farm or food businesses may include indirect (overhead) costs up to 10% of total direct costs in their project budget. Indirect costs are not allowed for institutions of higher education and governmental entities.


Budget Category

Requested Funds


  • Name and/or payroll title and % FTE for each employee

Employee Benefits 

  • List for each employee

Total Personnel Costs








Total Direct Costs


Total Indirect Costs (if allowable, see instructions above, up to 10% of direct costs)





Format and Submission Requirements


Proposal must be in 12 pt. font size with one-inch margins. Please observe the word and page limits stated below. Refer to the Proposal Requirements section for descriptions of what should be in each part of sections II and III.


Section I. 

  1. Cover Page with Project Summary -150 words or less. Download the cover page template here. (*Please include a header with the title of your project and the Principal Investigator's (PI) last name.)
  2. Total Funding Request.


Section II. Body of Proposal - Sections A-F combined must not exceed five single-spaced pages, 12 pt. font 

  • A. Relevance to Priority Areas and Topics in this RFP
  • B. Relevance to Target Audience (Justification)
  • C. Goals and Objectives
  • D. Methods/Activities/Timetable
  • E. Products
  • F. Evaluation/Lessons Learned
  • G. Capabilities of Investigators and Cooperators
  • H. Budget and Budget justification


Section III. Required Appendices

  1. Literature Cited (if appropriate)
  2. CVs or resumes of primary applicant(s) (2-page limit per CV/resume)
  3. Letters of support (should be on official letterhead if possible/applicable). Letters should be included in the proposal document (scanned or electronic copy) if possible. If not possible, letters should be submitted as separate attachments along with the proposal. 


When ready to submit, combine the following proposal elements into a single file (.pdf, .doc, or .docx) and upload as instructed in the Submission Instructions section below:
  1. Cover Page (section IA)
  2. Proposal Narrative (including Budget and Budget Justification) (section II)
  3. Required Appendices (section III; if letters cannot be appended to the proposal document, you may upload them separately in the proposal submission system)
  • 1. * Small businesses are defined as entities that meet the same requirements as California Small Business Certification requirements (actual certification is not required):

Submission Instructions

Submission Instructions  


** If you do not have a email address please contact Melanie Caruso,, for access to the submission site, at least 2 business days before you intend to submit your proposal. **


  1. To begin you must be logged onto the ANR Portal at Once in the portal locate the Universal Review System.

  2. Under Open Systems, select “2021/2022 Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Competitive Small Grants Program” to begin the submission process.  

  3. Enter the title of your proposal and select Create Proposal.

  4. Select Save General Information.

  5. On the Proposal Information page, if you would like to change or add information under the “General Information” or “Proposal Contacts” sections, click on the pink boxes to edit and be sure to save your changes.

  6. Enter total funding requested in the Amount Requested box.

  7. Upload your completed proposal.

  8. To submit your proposal select the Submit Proposal button located on the right side of the Proposal Information page.


If you need assistance with the submission process, please contact Melanie Caruso at


Submission & Review Schedule

Submission and Review Schedule


Proposals must be received by Monday, February 15, 2021, 12:00pm PST. Proposals received after this deadline will not be considered for review.


All proposals will be reviewed by a committee of ANR personnel, outside reviewers with relevant experience, and members of SAREP’s staff.  We expect that successful applicants will be notified of awards by March 19, 2021.


For technical questions about the online submission process or disability accommodation, please contact Melanie Caruso ( For questions about content or program requirements, please contact Sonja Brodt ( or Gail Feenstra (530-574-4794). 



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