US: Universities strengthen forces to showcase opportunities for ethnic herbs & greens

Interested in learning more about ethnic greens and herbs to meet increasing market demand? Then consider attending this day-long workshop on March 3, 2014 in Valley Forge, PA. Registration opens in early January!

U.S. Census data shows that the mainstream population only increased by 9.7% from 2000 to 2010 as compared to 43% for Asians and 43% for Hispanics (Census 2000, 2010). With this increase in population, there certainly would be an increased demand for ethnic produce; hence, opportunities exist for producers, wholesalers, and retailers who focus on growing and selling ethnic greens and herbs to serve the needs of these clientèle.

Ability to successfully provide ethnic consumers with greens and herbs they desire will depend on collaboration among different parts of the industry, from the farmer to the processor and marketer to the consumer, and also involve institutions of higher learning to provide science-based innovations and an educated workforce. To facilitate this, a multi-disciplinary project has been implemented to analyse consumer demand for ethnic greens and herbs and production feasibility for select ethnic greens and herbs, and to host a one-day workshop during which researchers will share outcomes from ethnic greens and herbs production and marketing studies.

Funding provided by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Speciality Crop Research Initiative grant is allowing researchers and Extension personnel from Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, The Pennsylvania State University, University of Massachusetts, and University of Florida to host the March 3, 2014 workshop in Valley Forge, PA.

The research team is now in the process of promoting the event to alert interested growers, wholesalers, retailers, and other stakeholders, Extension personnel, association representatives, and similar industry members who are involved in ethnic food production/sales and marketing/sourcing/education about the workshop and networking opportunity. Details about the all-day workshop are as follows.

Where will the workshop be held and what will be discussed? The all-day workshop will be held in Valley Forge, PA. While the agenda is still being developed, a mix of topics will be presented including: dissemination of research results, stakeholders describing their experiences with growing, sourcing, and marketing ethnic greens and herbs, and a presentation describing changes in U.S. consumer demographics.

What are the conference fees and other associated costs? The funding received from a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Speciality Crop Research Initiative grant will cover attendees’ lodging for the night of March 2nd, based on double occupancy, meals during the conference on the 3rd, and materials/workshop attendance. Extension and research personnel not associated with the project may be asked to prepare a poster or provide a summary describing their work with ethnic products or another applicable topic.

How can I learn more about the associated research and extension outcomes and how do I let you know that I’m interested in attending? In preparation for the workshop, listserve members receive bi-weekly updates about research outcomes and conference updates. To be added to the listserve and/or be included on the invitation list, please email Dana Ollendyke at djm428@psu.edu. Registration will begin shorty after January 4, 2014.

The project is being funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Speciality Crop Research Initiative grant, Project Award Number: SCRI 2009-51181-06035. The goal of the Speciality Crop Research Initiative is to solve critical speciality crop agriculture issues and address priorities through multifunctional research and Extension. For more information about the program, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov.


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