Hawthorn Heritage:Cultivating Native Varieties for Sustainable Forestry and Agriculture

Project Overview

FS24-361
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $16,305.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Carmoni Partners
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Ted Gilbert
Carmoni Partners

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Proposal summary:

To address the problem, the proposed solution entails a
systematic, data-driven approach to select the most suitable
hawthorn species for cultivation.  By meticulously
documenting and analyzing the characteristics of each hawthorn
plant on Mr. Gilbert’s property, the project seeks to determine
which species exhibit superior qualities in terms of berry yield,
quality, and resilience to environmental stresses. This will
involve evaluating soil conditions,, plants vigor, resistance to
pests and diseases, and interrelations with surrounding flora.
The chosen species will undergo breeding to establish cultivars
that are well-adapted to local conditions, thereby offering a
viable new crop for Southern agriculture.

 The project’s solution will leverage Mr. Gilbert’s
extensive experience in horticulture and his commitment to
sustainable practices on his farm. The partnership with Good
Agriculture will ensure a robust design for the collection and
analysis of data. The intended result is not only the development
of a new sustainable agricultural product but also a model that
can empower other farmers, particularly those in underserved
communities, to explore and optimize native species for
commercial agriculture.

Project objectives from proposal:

The methodology for Ted Gilbert’s project involves a detailed
phenological and environmental assessment of hawthorn species
across his farm. Each specimen will be evaluated quarterly for
characteristics such as plant size, soil composition, canopy
coverage, pests and disease prevalence, surrounding vegetation
types, and berry production metrics including count, size, and
quality.

A grid based mapping system will be established to monitor and
record the specific location of each hawthorn, which will aid in
tracking the plants’ growth and health over time and ensure
repeatability of data collection. Soil samples will be collected
and analyzed to assess the nutrient profile and determine the
suitability for hawthorn cultivation. Good Agriculture will
assist in developing a standardized data collection format and
provide training to hired specialists to ensure consistency and
accuracy.

Data analysis will be conducted after each quarterly collection,
with an extensive final review at the end of the two-year period
to identify the top-performing hawthorns. The criteria for
selection will include not only individual plant performance but
also how well each plant’s characteristics align with the ideals
of sustainable farming practices, such as low input requirements
and resilience to environmental stresses.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.