- Vegetables: greens (leafy)
- Crop Production: continuous cropping, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, greenhouses, plant breeding and genetics, varieties and cultivars
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, farmers' markets/farm stands, market study
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
- Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting
- Production Systems: dryland farming, hydroponics
- Sustainable Communities: community development, employment opportunities, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration
Leafy green amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) is a crop of economical and nutritional importance among minoritized ethnic communities within the Northeastern United States. Iron levels accumulating in this minor crop are comparable or higher to that of spinach and it’s a rich source of antioxidants. Importantly for this region is that it’s a heat-loving crop that has the potential to supplement locally grown spinach in summer months, therefore being called summer spinach. Despite the known benefits of this crop, farmers are still hesitant to introduce it due to its association as a weed, with the Pigweed taxa and its lack of recognition as a ‘mainstream leafy green’. This proposal aims to promote leafy green amaranth to Northeastern farmers as a new crop preferred as a leafy green by many consumer groups due to its familiarity and preference by such biocultural communities as well as its health attributes. This will be completed through the standardization of cultivation methods, along with a market-driven approach to assess grower and consumer concerns and demands. This project aims to be a first step towards a greater mission of providing non-Western, ethnoculturally preferred crops to the international communities that exist and grow in prominence in the Northeastern United States.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Complete variety trials on leafy green amaranth in an outdoor and hydroponic farm setting to compare yield and nutritional quality.
- Evaluate single harvest and multiple harvest methods based on yield, consumer preference, and environmental sustainability.
- Assess consumer response to the introduction of different varieties in farmers markets.
Parallel to the above objectives, collaborating farmers will be invited to tour the fields and provide their own assessment as to which leafy green amaranth cultivars are of greatest interest. In this way, we will be incorporating a ‘participatory approach’ to selection (pre-breeding strategies) based upon the industry inputs, therefore ensuring the relevancy and connections to small-scale New Jersey growers.