Ohio African Heritage Crop Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2024: $49,999.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Central State University
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Clare Thorn
Central State University Extension


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

Culturally specific African crops
include a multitude of vegetables such as heritage greens, okra,
southern peas,
waterleaf, peppers,
eggplant, basil, and others with specific tracings to Africa.
These crops were brought to America by Africans hiding and
carrying homeland seeds during the African Diaspora. Since their
introduction to American agricultural farmlands, much effort has
been given to saving seeds and maintaining the quality of these
crops as viable food sources, however, locating and purchasing
them are limited.  

This project will test the
viability/sustainability of these crops in Ohio climates and soil
types. With CSU Extension, four Ohio African American urban
farmers in two cities will grow between 2-10 African heritage
crops per farm. Productivity will determine the overall success
of these crops and their potential to allow Ohio farmers to
market and profit from, and consumers of African descent to have
a local source of these beloved

The two-year trials will take place at
Ohio urban farm locations in Cincinnati and Columbus, the CSU
Research Farm in Wilberforce with second-year trialing to also
take place at CSU’s Botanical Garden. Results will be shared with
farmers and customers and will also inspire   permanent
heritage garden at the Botanical

Project objectives from proposal:

  1. Field test African culturally
    specific crop viability in Ohio.
  2. Develop planting schedules for
    crop yields.
  3. Promote the purpose of culturally
    specific crop production.
  4. Create a Black Heritage-focused
    garden (12’ X 45’) within the CSU Seed to Bloom Botanical and
    Community Garden to emphasis African heritage
  5. Use data gathered to develop
    educational programs on how African Americans influenced
    Agricultural practices currently in use in
  6. Utilize Ohio African American urban
    farmers with culturally specific crop production / seed
  7. Develop a sustainable marketing and
    seed business model collaboratively with
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.