May 15 is the deadline for farmers and researchers seeking funds from the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Organic Farming Research Foundation for organic research and education projects.

The foundation concentrates its funding on research into organic farming and food systems, in addition to education and materials for organic or transitional producers.

The total amount available for grants varies, said Jane Sooby, organic research specialist for the foundation.

"Each year we set a grant making goal based on our prior year's success in raising funds," Sooby said.

"Because of uncertainty around the number and quality of proposals submitted and the success of our ongoing fundraising initiatives, we don't publicly announce the total amount available for general grantmaking."

However, a partnership with Stretch Island Fruit Co., Grapeview, Wash., has enabled the foundation to dedicate an additional $375,000 to fruit-related research and $75,000 for general organic grants. Sooby said a total of $262,000 of that money has been disbursed already.

Though Stretch Island Fruit is the maker of a processed "fruit leather" product, the funds are also available for fresh-market production and have been used to fund research for strawberries, brambleberries, blueberries, cranberries, apples and Goji berries.

The foundation limits awards to $15,000 per year for recipients and a maximum of $20,000 per year for the Stretch Island partnership fruit grants.

"Occasionally, the board will adjust the budget of projects they choose to fund," Sooby said. However, she said, the grant awards usually mirror the amount requested.

The foundation also revised its proposal submission requirements to make them more clear regarding organic certification.

The foundation plans to announce the winners of its research grants in November. For more information about the grant program or to apply, visit www.ofrf.org/grants/apply.html.