Produce Business on southern vegetable expansion

In the May issue of Produce Business, there is an article on the rapid growth in demand for locally grown vegetables in the southeast. That article is a special box about new varieties.  the article highlights broccoli as a key vegetable that has been seeing an effort by regional growers. Powell Smith is quoted about adapting kale production  to hot sandy soil, and also noting the sad fact that it has been a decade since Clemson had a vegetable breeding program. Our new collaborator, Tim Coolong  at the University of Georgia outlines the many qualities required in varieties for them to thrive in the southeast.

The long search for May-harvested broccoli

A century ago, growers were also eager for broccoli varieties that could be harvested later into spring and early summer.

Some of the finest strains of late broccoli, however, are not in commerce, being in the hands of market-men, who have been selecting and re-selecting the stock for the last two or three generations, and from whom it is impossible to beg or buy even a single seed. In course of time, however, these will doubtless pass into the seeds men’s hands, when several late strains, later than anything at present in commerce, will be added to our list of useful varieties.
F. W. Hammond. Pilgrim’s Hatch, Essex.
In The Garden, February 1917.

This article is about white broccoli, which was raised in England in the late 19th and early 20th century. It looked virtually identical to cauliflower but was cold hardy and raised for cold-season harvest. It was typically planted in the spring and harvested in either late fall or early the following spring. Biennial types headed and were harvested in the spring, but had little heat tolerance. Growers eagerly wanted late varieties that could be harvested in May and still look good.

Gómez in London to talk about expanding locally grown

The Perishable Pundit highlights Miguel Gómez’ upcoming presentation at the London Produce Show. PP Jim Prevor summarizes it as The Renaissance Of The Wholesale Sector — Why Those Who Support ‘Locally Grown’ Should Support Investment In Market Intermediaries.

The wholesale produce trade that is present at the New York and London Produce Shows is keenly interested in the economic results coming out of the Eastern Broccoli Project. Prevor writes “[Gómez] has been a superstar in New York, informing, educating and beguiling industry members.”

Miguel will explore the dilemma faced by farmers who are serving their local consumers through farmers markets and CSAs.

The goal is to connect local food systems to the mainstream distribution system. Markets where consumers buy directly from farmers are very limited in terms of volume, availability, and in terms of sustained economic viability for the farmer, who lives only out of these markets.
Margins are very thin, and the markets are easily inundated with excess supply. So the markets are restricted on the amount of farmers that can participate in going direct to consumers.

The concept does not fit the normal narrative for either the farmers market community nor the supermarket community. Therefore, bringing change that benefits consumers, small farmers, and supermarkets will take transdisciplinary assistance of the kind we have been developing in the Eastern Broccoli Project.