Funding of research to grow organic strawberries
Therefore, in addition to bringing more diversity to the market, the researchers hope to reduce chemical use on farms. While Chase said the team will initially try to grow the strawberry cultivars without chemicals, if they find a need for them, the team will consider using non-synthetic and natural products approved for use in organic production.
Zhifeng Gao, an assistant professor in UF’s Food and Resource Economics Department, and Mickie Swisher of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, will work to determine consumer preferences for strawberries. They’ll study factors such as flavor, taste, quality and the price consumers will pay for organic produce.
Swisher says this project is exciting because it brings together research about production practices and what consumers want. She said it is especially exciting to be working with an industry-leader like Walmart because of the project’s potential to provide healthy, domestically produced strawberries to consumers. Equally important, she said, is the involvement of strawberry producers and industry representatives in the research.
“We hope to get very, very deep and substantive feedback from strawberry producers to help us find economically viable solutions for growers,” Swisher said.
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