Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program Trellis Fund

A volunteer shows a plant to a studentAn Eco Finder volunteer discusses weeds with Michael Wolff, a UC Davis graduate student and program participant, in Kenya during the first round of Horticulture CRSP Trellis Fund projects in 2011-2012.

Beginning September 2012, U.S. graduate students will travel to Feed the Future focus countries to work on projects led by in-country organizations to support smallholder farmers growing fruits and vegetables, thanks to 14 newly funded projects from the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) at the University of California, Davis.


The students are participating in the Horticulture CRSP Trellis Fund, which matches students pursuing advanced agricultural degrees with organizations that are engaged with local farmers. Funding is provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development.


“The Horticulture CRSP Trellis Fund is really building capacity at both ends,” said Amanda Crump, Horticulture CRSP associate director. “We hope that

this experience opens students’ eyes to the reality of food security issues internationally as they continue their agricultural careers. And we believe these projects support the organizations’ capability to conduct research and build trust with university representatives, who can provide unbiased, up-to-date scientific information.”


In the first round of Trellis Fund projects, 10 UC Davis students supported projects throughout the developing world with a combined 124 training meetings, 1,935 farmer participants and 10 demonstration plots.


“It was a really positive experience for me as a graduate student because I was surprised at how useful my expertise as a soil scientist actually could be,” said Michael Wolff, a graduate student who went to Kenya through a Trellis project.


This new, larger round of 14 projects includes students from four different universities:

  • North Carolina State University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • UC Davis


The students’ knowledge, from soil science to tropical plants to agricultural economics, will be applied to real-world problems in Nepal, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Honduras and Nicaragua.


“I think my Ph.D. program has prepared me with the technical and academic knowledge that I’ll need. But while I’ve gone abroad before, I think it will be a lot different going to Uganda to work,” said A.J. Campbell, a doctoral student at UC Davis who will be working with an organization called Eco-Agric Uganda on sweet potatoes. “I’m hoping to make a contribution to their project that will help it to be long-lasting, so it continues after this grant ends.”


For each project, organizations are provided $2,000 to support their work and graduate students are awarded travel funds plus $300 to continue providing horticultural consultation remotely throughout the year. Low overhead costs and close ties to farmers allow for grants of this size to make significant impacts in Feed the Future focus countries.


“With the Trellis Fund, our goal is to engage young people in an international experience—a chance to partner with a small organization working with real people with real needs and apply what they know about science,” said Beth Mitcham, Horticulture CRSP director. “For a small investment, we’re creating lasting relationships and perhaps changing the career path of a young person.”


Managed by UC Davis and funded by USAID, the Horticulture CRSP builds global partnerships for fruit and vegetable research to improve livelihoods in developing countries. The program is managed by UC Davis and funded by USAID. 


Check out the current call for project proposals and student applications! (deadline: March 4, 2013)