How To Be Successful Growing Ethnic Vegetables

Thirty years ago, cilantro was unheard of in the U.S., but now, there’s almost as much cilantro grown in the states as parsley, says Rick VanVranken, head researcher at the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension, and “Marketing Matters” columnist for American Vegetable Grower.

That’s because cilantro began as an ethnic vegetable, grown specifically for use by small pockets of immigrants who wanted a taste of their home country.

And while not every ethnic vegetable will follow in cilantro’s footsteps to the mainstream markets, the market for ethnic vegetables is growing, and it’s a sustainable option for growers in certain areas of the country where ethnic communities congregate.

New Crops, New Opportunities
In South Jersey and the surrounding East Coast areas, VanVranken says there are now many opportunities for growers to enter the ethnic vegetable market by catering to the large Hispanic, Asian, and African populations.

A large portion of the ethnic vegetables being grown and sold cater to the Asian markets. Greens, mustards, and cabbages make up the bulk of the crops.

But the newest opportunities for growers, VanVranken says, are in the African vegetable market.

A recent wave of African immigrants coming from countries like Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana are all in the market for crops specific to their culture, particularly African eggplants.

Morris Gbolo, owner of World Crops Farm in Buena Vista Township, NJ, grows three varieties of African eggplants for his customers that originally came from West African countries and now come from neighboring states to pick their own vegetables from his 10-acre operation.

Gbolo, who came to the U.S. from Liberia in 2002, started World Crops Farm in 2007. Instead of starting with the crops, however, Gbolo corralled his customer base first.

“I talked to church groups and sent out flyers,” Gbolo says. “I surveyed groups of people to see if there would be enough interest to make the farm successful, and there was.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Vegetables Stories
dynasty-dsc_2035
Vegetables
December 4, 2016
Outstanding Seed Company 2016 Vegetable Variety Showcase
For more information, contact Outstanding Seed Company, LLC: P.O. Box 202, Monaca, PA 15061 PHONE 877-248-4567; WEBSITE OutstandingSeed.com FAX 724-775-1544 Read More
The giant Honeycrisp apples at Burnham Orchards sell quickly
Fruits
December 3, 2016
TOMRA Acquires Compac Sorting Machine Manufacturer
Transaction to be complete in first quarter of 2017. Read More
johnnys-selected-seeds-03723-02-flaminio_cropped
More Vegetables
December 3, 2016
Johnny’s Selected Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Showcase
For more information, contact Johnny’s Selected Seeds: 955 Benton Ave., Winslow, ME 04901 PHONE 877-564-6697; WEBSITE JohnnySeeds.com FAX 800-738-6314 Read More
tomatosunrisesauce-2
More Vegetables
December 2, 2016
Harris Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Showcase
For more information, contact Harris Seeds: 355 Paul Rd., P.O. Box 24966, Rochester, NY 14624-0966 800-544-7938; WEBSITE HarrisSeeds.com FAX 877-892-9197; Read More
Florida cabbage field day attendees take a close look
More Vegetables
December 2, 2016
Florida Growers, Researchers Aim To Sharpen Focus On Cabbage
Field day demonstrates growing potential in cole crops. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Citrus
December 1, 2016
Bio Huma Netics App Now Released For Android Smart Phones
App includes foliar application calculators and ability to save application data. Read More
Low-volume center pivot irrigation at Jones Potato Farm in Florida
Farm Management
December 1, 2016
Florida Farmers Are Good For The Environment
All three recipients of this year’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Awards are proof of agriculture’s longstanding commitment to conserving the Sunshine State's precious natural resources. Read More