Trellis Fund fact sheet: Engaging graduate students in international development


Horticulture Innovation Lab Trellis Fund

Engaging graduate students in international development

The Trellis Fund connects organizations in developing countries with U.S. graduate students who have agricultural expertise, generating benefits for both the students and the in-country institutions. Together, they collaborate on short-term projects to address horticultural challenges faced by local farmers.

How it works:

Organizations in developing countries are invited to propose a horticultural project for a $4,000 grant and specify the type of expert support they seek in a U.S. graduate student. Trellis projects may address issues of horticultural production, pest management, soil fertility, water management, postharvest practices, value addition, nutrition, and marketing.

The Trellis Fund matches the organization to a graduate student with related expertise. Graduate students from the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s partner institutions are invited to participate:

  • University of California, Davis
  • North Carolina State University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Selected graduate students work remotely with the organization as consultants on projects for a minimum of 100 hours. Students travel for approximately 2 weeks of in-country work, to gain a better understanding of local situations and execute parts of the project. Travel expenses are covered, and students receive a $300 fellowship upon completion.


Since 2011, the Horticulture Innovation Lab has completed five rounds of Trellis Fund projects. Results from the first 55 completed projects include:

  • 8,512 farmer participants (66% women)
  • 230 demonstration plots
  • 265 training and extension meetings

Fact sheet: Updated in 2018, this fact sheet also lists all of the Trellis Fund projects taking place in 2018 by country, with the lead organization and student for each project. (Also see sixth round of projects for details.)