Participatory variety trials for flavor, quality and agronomic performance to increase direct market opportunities and on farm trialing capacity for organic growers

Graduate Student: Kitt Healy
MS Agroecology and MS Horticulture Candidate
University of Wisconsin, Madison
1575 Linden Dr.
Madison, WI 53706
[email protected]

Faculty Advisor: Julie Dawson
University of Wisconsin, Madison
[email protected]


Sales to local food markets can be a valuable opportunity for organic producers. Access to these markets depends on raising highFquality produce. Given their unique environments, organic farmers benefit from a better understanding of which varieties are likely to perform well on their farms, and meet the quality criteria of their customers. This research evaluates diverse varieties of nine species of common vegetable crops for agronomic performance and culinary quality. Trials were grown on eight organic farms in the Madison, WI region, and on organic land at the West Madison research station. Outcomes include productivity data that is immediately useful to organic farmers and plant breeders, as well as detailed information about how four local chefs perceive the flavor and overFall quality of each variety. This research also laid an important foundation for future collaborative research and plant breeding to develop excellent varieties for organic production in the upper Midwest.