- Fruits: berries (other)
- Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, varieties and cultivars
- Education and Training: demonstration, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
- Production Systems: Goldenberry management
Problem and justification:
There are approximately 1750 CSA’s and 1700 farmers markets in the Northeast. Fruit is often not included in CSA shares or at farmers markets due to the relatively small size of most operations and the long-term investment and greater input required for most fruit crops. Goldenberries (Physalis peruviana) are highly productive, nutritious annuals producing small, cherry sized fruit that taste like a mix of pineapple, strawberry, and sour cherry. Fruit are eaten raw, dried or made into jam or jelly. Goldenberries are widely grown in South America, South Africa and Australia and production recommendations are well documented. Production guidelines for the US are non-existent due to the lack of a coordinated trial assessing productivity, fruit quality (organoleptic and nutritional) and consumer preference of readily available germplasm. Few named cultivars exist and production relies on races selected from wild germplasm. Goldenberries are in the nightshade family, fit into standard crop rotations and their adoption would allow more farmers to incorporate fruit into their shares or market sales without the additional land commitment associated with perennial or biennial fruit crops.
Solution and approach:
This project will provide farmers with a Sustainable Goldenberry Production Guide and germplasm for incorporating goldenberries into their operations. Production and marketing information will also be made available via a freely accessible online MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) hosted by Rutgers via the Coursera platform. Growers will have access to the most current recommendations and references and will have online access to experts to address questions or concerns during the course of the project and afterwards. We will conduct the first systematic evaluation of Physalis germplasm to identify genotypes with characteristics that make them well-suited for inclusion into CSA’s and local farm markets. We will also identify germplasm with characteristics that will be used to develop superior cultivars utilizing traditional breeding methods. Nutritional and organoleptic profiles will be developed and consumer preference evaluated. Nutritious, horticulturally desirable germplasm that consumers like will be identified and developed and seed of selected germplasm will be increased and made available to growers.
Performance targets from proposal:
One hundred CSA/Farmers Market farmers adopt goldenberries as an annual fruit that easily fits their standard vegetable rotation as a solanaceous crop. Each farm produces and sells 50 pints per week for 6 weeks at $4 per pint on 0.25 acres each increasing total gate value by $120,000 per year.