DOVER, Del. — The Delaware Department of Agriculture has announced that seven projects received grant funding through USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Delaware received nearly $300,000 to enhance the competitiveness of Delaware grown specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).
“The Specialty Crop Block Grant provides funding for research that makes a difference in the bottom line for our farmers,” said Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse. “Our partners do a great job in testing varieties that improve yield, identify new varieties that are suitable for production in Delaware, and develop sound marketing practices to connect the consumer with their food source.”
Selected through a competitive process, these projects focus on Delaware grown specialty crops:
- The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension vegetable program is partnering with the FMC Company to evaluate the potential for sourcing food colorants and additives from vegetable waste from Delaware farms.
- Research will be conducted by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Fruit and Vegetable Program to test strategies to reduce the effects of heat stress on a variety of vegetable crops and demonstrate successful techniques to growers.
- Utilizing the lima bean genome, the University of Delaware’s Department of Plant and Soil Science will identify disease resistance genes from their diversity panel and improve the marker system developed to deploy durable disease resistance genes in lima bean cultivars.
- Charlotte’s Secret Garden will plant a high density, diverse orchard with approximately 350 trees on 1 acre of land to demonstrate how small farms can provide community supported agriculture, farm markets, and farm stands with fresh, locally grown fruit from spring through the fall.
- The Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware will seek to improve awareness with consumers of its members and the specialty crops that they grow in Delaware, including a coordinated marketing and promotion effort.
- University of Delaware Weed Science will conduct research on weed control related to lima beans and pumpkins.
- Colonial School District will develop farm-based education programming on Penn Farm with a goal to increase child and adult knowledge and awareness about gardening, agriculture, healthy eating, local foods and seasonality.
For more information on the Delaware Department of Agriculture and financial assistance available for Delaware agriculture, visit online at dda.delaware.gov.
— Delaware Department of Agriculture