The goal of this project was to commercialize an innovative production and marketing system for new specialty vegetables suitable for small-scale Indiana growers. This project will capitalize on the strong national and regional demand for ethnic vegetables that can be grown in a consumer-friendly manner. The production system involves growing specialty vegetables on an extended seasonal basis using solar-heated plastic tunnels for cool-season production that can also be cooled by a combination of shade cloth and precision irrigation for summer production. This system, already under development by our collaborators, will be refined and commercialized. Featured specialty vegetables include arrugula, fennochio (fennel), eggplant. and basil as well as other salad greens and garnishes used in Mediterranean cuisine, and that have been selected and validated by research underway in the Department of Horticulture at Purdue University. The marketing objective to increase demand involves three approaches: (1) direct delivery to collaborative chefs in select restaurants in Central Indiana; (2) sale at popular Farmers Markets; (3) sale to green grocer chains that have expressed interest in locally-grown produce. The feasibility of this new program will be demonstrated in the first growing season and then the system will be made available to other specialty vegetable growers through the establishment of a grower owned and operated alliance to be called Hoosier Fresh™. Potential growers will be selected from areas surrounding the major urban areas of the state.
Blue Moon Farm