The Indiana State Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $400,000 to six projects throughout the state that look to enhance the competitiveness of Indiana’s specialty crops. The ISDA says the funding will also address key issues impacting the agricultural sector by investing in research and increasing nutritional knowledge and consumption of specialty crops.
The department says specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops including floriculture. The grants are being funded through the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program.
"Our state has a diverse specialty crop industry that families in rural, urban and suburban Indiana rely on," said Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as secretary of agriculture and rural development. "These grants are a catalyst for growth and will help organizations, like Purdue and Indiana University, find new, innovative ways to cultivate this important sector of our economy."
The grant recipients and their projects include:
Indiana University – School of Public Health: Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies – $70,000
- Indiana University researchers will partner with the Indiana Christmas Tree Growers Association to increase the sales of Indiana grown Christmas trees and address the increasingly competitive marketplace with the development of educational materials and a promotional campaign.
Purdue University – College of Agriculture: Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture – $55,199
- Purdue University will evaluate commercially-available and locally-produced growing media made from composted organic waste and conventional media components, and identify the media qualities necessary to produce the best vegetable transplants for use in organic vegetable farming.
Indiana State Department of Agriculture – Indiana Grown – $132,610
- Through the Indiana Grown initiative, ISDA will work to educate Hoosier consumers about the importance of buying specialty crops grown in Indiana, while supporting growers statewide through their work with Nutritional Public Service Announcements and the Produce Marketing Association show.
Purdue University – College of Agriculture: Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture – $50,000
- Purdue University will develop research based and Indiana region-specific information for hydroponic lettuce production in greenhouses and transfer crop production and marketing knowledge to Indiana farmers through effective extension education.
Purdue University – College of Agriculture: Department of Forestry and Natural Resources – $55,535
- Purdue University will work in partnership with the Indiana Hop Growers Association and individual Indiana hop growers to respond to the expansion and interest in growing hops in Indiana.
Purdue University – College of Agriculture: Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture – $35,000
- Purdue University will develop research-based information for profitable indoor or vertical farming and train beginner farmers and entrepreneurs with best practices through effective extension education.