Specialty Crop and Season Extension Research by Emerging Farmers
Principal Investigators: Verna Kragnes; Caliton Ntahompagaze; Simeon Bakunda
Organization/Farm: Prairie Rose Farm
Funding: MN Department of Agriculture; Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE)
Project Duration: 2022-2025, 3 years
Refugee immigrant farmer members in New Roots Farm Incubator Cooperative working with Prairie Rose Farm will 1) develop skills in season extension methods, 2) Trial and produce African eggplant, white sorghum as grain or flour and sweet sorghum syrup as high-value crops, and 3) Develop, test and market these valued-added products of interest in Asian and African communities. The focus of the first year is the trial and selection of both white and sweet sorghum seed to be grown in the context of three individual farms. Four open-pollinated varieties of white sorghum from previous work by Dr. Burton Johnson, NDSU, reviewing 106 genotypes and three distinct varieties of sweet sorghum from research done by Dr. Thomas Michaels, UMN, will be selected for agronomic and syrup characteristics. Individual farmers will evaluate and integrate preferred new crops into their farming business. Year two will be an expansion of farmers’ preferred seed(s) and first yield of syrup and flour for market sales. Year three will be an expansion of production and direct marketing of grain, flour, and syrup through individual farms or farmer cooperatives. Outreach will showcase immigrant leadership and voice as educators and mentors for their peer farmers, and as presenters for digital media, field days, hands-on workshops, and conferences.
Trial and select seeds of white and sweet sorghum for agronomic and syrup characteristics.
Process African eggplant, white sorghum grain or flour, and sweet sorghum syrup as high value crops; test, and market them to Asian and African communities.
Expand production and direct marketing of grain, flour, and syrup through individual farms or farmer cooperatives.
Evaluate project benefits and impacts including income and profitability, market opportunities, business enterprise opportunities, implications for crop production, and farm management, while increasing access to culturally significant foods.