Tea (camellia sinensis) is a tree crop, cultivated at commercial scale almost-exclusively in tropical and subtropical climates, as it is damaged by hard freezes and more-profitable when it may be harvested year-round. In cultivation, the tree is pruned to a height of four to six feet and a proportionate diameter for ease of harvesting, such that many individuals can be grown in tight rows when planted in the ground. This standard size is similar to what might be achieved by growing tea plants in large containers, which could be arranged as necessary during overwintering, in order to grow tea in a temperate climate. Scott’s Baked Goods, of Columbia, Missouri, proposes to demonstrate the feasibility of this, by cultivating two-hundred tea plants in this way, under the instruction of Rob Nunally of Onomea Tea. These plants will be added to the Scott’s year-round urban agricultural area, under the scope of the company USDA organic certification, the cost of the experiment arising principally from the expansion of the existing overwintering space; the proving of low-cost, low-impact overwintering methods; and the demonstration, to others, of the profitability of tea cultivation as a local prospect.
Project objectives from proposal:
1 – Demonstrate germination of camellia, and grow-out through several steps, up to industry-standard volume.
2 – Demonstrate minimal-upkeep overwintering by successfully sheltering saplings, and achieving excess heat generation over the course of each of two winters.
3 – Instruct entrepreneurs in tea cultivation and overwintering during scheduled site visits, especially fellow vendors from Columbia Farmers’ Market, with emphasis on ventures associated with that venue, and establishment of new ventures suited to it.
4 – Successfully process one season’s harvest, brew tea worthy of serving at Scott’s, and sell at profit consistent with Previous Research numbers.