- Fruits: melons
- Crop Production: organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
- Production Systems: general crop production
- Soil Management: organic matter
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration
Increased research into customer preferences for immigrant populations in urban areas has documented some potential Latin American and Asian crops for niche fresh markets in the Northeast, few projects have evaluated the preferences of Caribbean immigrants. This project will evaluate 4-6 varieties of Momordica charantia, known as bitter melon, or corrioly to Caribbean immigrants, for yield. We will also test customer preferences for different varieties through customer surveys at the East New York Farmers’ Market, through sales data for the different varieties at the market, and through the market’s ability to draw Caribbean customers through flyers that advertise the availability of bitter melon.
Project objectives from proposal:
We will be testing the bitter melon for two characteristics: (1) yield, and (2) customer preferences. To test comparative yields, youth in the project (under supervision) will harvest and weigh the crop twice per week, and data will be recorded. At this time, the project coordinator will also inspect the plants for overall health and any potential pest problems. Produce harvested will be sold through the shared table of the East New York Farmers’ Market, a table where local residents who are growing lower volumes drop off their produce, which is staffed by youth in the youth program. This will allow us to track how much of each variety of bitter melon is sold through the farmers’ market. Youth have been weighing harvests at their own garden since 2003, and this data has allowed us to calculate comparative yields for different crops. The shared table has also been a feature of the market since 2003. Having both of these measurement tools in place have allowed us to work out the logistical kinks prior to beginning this bitter melon testing project.
To test customer preferences, we will develop a questionnaire that youth will use to survey customers, asking them to rate the varieties and indicate their willingness to buy different types. (Youth in the project survey customers at the farmers’ market every year, so returning interns have enough experience with this to implement the survey successfully under the supervision of the youth program coordinator.) Furthermore, we will flyer in City Line in Quuens (also known as “little Guyana”), and the Flatbush, Crown Heights, and Canarsie neighborhoods of Brooklyn, all of which have a high proportion of Caribbean immigrants. Using spot surveys and our annual customer survey, we will measure our ability to draw customers to the market with Caribbean vegetables- whether or not customers are willing to travel to find fresh home-grown produce, and therefore whether it might be an item that farmers would want to grow for other New York City Farmers’ Markets.