Partnership to Study Sustainable Methods for Growing Figs in the North Central Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2024: $49,898.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: NAFEX
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

There has been little research or study of sustainable fig
(Ficus carica) orchards and production in the North
Central region. While it is known that figs can be grown by
hobbyists in Zones 5/6, there is no documented research for
farmers interested in growing for local markets. Fresh figs are
sought after for their fruity sweetness, fiber, prebiotic,
anti-inflammatory, and nutritional value. Local farm stops and
co-ops in the Midwest are seeking a wider variety of locally
grown fresh fruits, including figs (personal communication).
 Most North Central residents do not have access to fresh
figs and are relegated to only dried figs. Establishing
conditions for growing figs locally will mitigate challenges of
easily bruised, short-shelf life, and expenses associated with
the rare transport from California.

This project compares cold climate production models in growing
figs. Cold hearty variety selection, tactical placement and
economical winter protection of in-ground and potted trees,
attention to soil composition, and compatible living mulches will
be applied. The early “breba” crop (developing on the old wood
during spring after fig leaves emerge) and the main crop yields,
soil moisture and temperatures, weed pressure, and signs of
stress/disease, leaf discoloration, and premature fruit drop,
will be measured.


Project objectives from proposal:

  1. On-farm research of Ficus carica (fig) viability and
    fruit. Three varieties will be selected for cold climate fruiting
    heartiness. Planted selections in-ground with southern sun
    exposure, protection from westerly cold winds, and sustainable
    insulation will be compared with the same varieties in pots moved
    indoors (sheltered) during winter.
  2. These varieties will be planted, maintained, monitored, and
    results documented in a consistent method at the four farms to
    investigate sustainably and scalability in zones 5b and 6a.
  3. Educate North Central farmers, including women, military
    veteran, and BIPOC farmers on strategies/techniques for growing
    of fresh figs in this region.
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.