Our Changing Marketplace
Our Research Farm
Dragon Fruit Blossom
"It is vitally important that we can continue to say, with absolute conviction,
that organic farming delivers the highest quality, best-tasting food,
produced without artificial chemicals or genetic modification,
and with respect for animal welfare and the environment,
while helping to maintain the landscape and rural communities."
Our Demonstration Kitchen
Just as the kitchen is the heart of the home, the Organic Demonstration Kitchen will be the heart of the Organic Farming Institute. This multi-use facility will provide a hands-on laboratory where multiple stakeholders will process fresh organic produce, develop and process value added products, and prepare and share farm-to-table meals.
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Dragon fruit, Pitaya
is rich in vitamin C, but it is also an
excellent source of healthy fatty
acids. Aside from vitamin C, dragon
fruit contains carotene and poly-
phenols, which are linked to several
anti-carcinogenic qualities, including
reducing a number of tumors. Moreover, lycopene, responsible for the red color in dragon fruit, has been shown to be linked to lower prostate cancer risk.4 A 2010 study published in the journal Pharmacognosy Research found the consumption of dragon fruit may lower the risks of developing heart disease and developing high blood pressure.4
Goji berries (Lycium barbarum)
contain vitamin C, vitamin B2,
vitamin A, iron, selenium and
other antioxidants (notably
polysaccharides). Goji berries are
relatively high in both protein and
dietary fiber. The significant amount
of vitamin A may be useful in slow-
ing aging of the skin, promoting
visual health and membrane integrity. Vitamin C is used in the production of collagen, which makes skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels healthy. It also aids in the healing of wounds and in the repair and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.5
Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia)
are packed with more antioxidants and
nutrients than any other grape. They
have been shown to be rich in total
phenolic compounds, ellagic acid, and
catechins. Extract from the skin of
muscadine grapes has been shown
by the National Institutes of Health to
inhibit the growth of prostate cancer
cells. A grape-enriched diet offers
protection against oxidative damage of the retina, macular degeneration, and prevents blindness.6
“Organic farms are 22-35% more profitable
than the average farm.” ---National Academy of Sciences
Our Unique Challenges
Acerola or Barbados Cherry,
(Malpighia emarginata) is best known
for being extremely rich in vitamin C,
although it also contains vitamins A,
B1, B2, and B3, as well ascarotenoids
and bioflavonoids, which provide im-
portant nutritive value and have anti-
oxidant uses. Vitamin C is known to
strengthen the immune system and
build collagen cells. It also supports the respiratory system. Vitamin C is known to be an effective antioxidant. The anti-oxidant qualities of acerola make it an ideal ingredient in skin care products to fight cellular aging. In another report, acerola extract was shown to enhance the antioxidant activity of soy and alfalfa extracts, acting synergistically. This may be beneficial in coronary artery disease.1
Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) have found that blueberries rank #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables
They contain several water-soluable
antioxidant ingredients, including
polyphenols, pigments, flavanoids,
and anthocyanins. New research
suggests that eating blueberries may
improve thinking and memory skills
in older adults with mild cognitive
impairment.2 Blueberries contain
flavonoids which could help prevent erectile dysfunction by improving vascular health. There is clinical trial data and also lab data suggesting that they can improve blood pressure, they can improve blood flow and make our arteries more flexible."3
Our Organic SuperFoods
Pomegranates (Punica granatum)
are among the healthiest of fruits
containing a range of beneficial plant
compounds, unrivaled by other foods.
They exhibit powerful anti-oxidant,
anti-viral, and anti-tumor properties,
and are a good source of vitamin-A,
vitamin-C, and vitamin-E, and folic
acid. Pomegranate juice has been
analyzed to have greater antioxidant capacity than red wine, grape juice, cranberry juice, green tea or acai juice.5 One study in diabetics found that 250 ml of pomegranate juice per day for 12 weeks lowered the inflammatory markers CRP and interleukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively.7
There are many great reasons to buy organic food, such as reducing exposure to pesticides, mitigating environmental pollution, improving soil quality, and eating more nutrient-rich produce. But, it turns out there’s yet another reason to buy organic — it’s a bigger money maker for farmers.
The choice to ‘go organic’ means farmers can make a better living.
A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that organic agriculture is 22-35% more profitable than conventional agriculture, and there's significant room in the global marketplace for expansion.1
A study released in August 2017 found that regions defined as 'organic hotspots' decrease poverty by 1.3%, and increase median household income by more than $2,000.2
This news comes at a time when less than 1% of our population farm for a living, our farmers are aging, and North American farmers are in financial distress.3
Florida’s agriculture industry has been especially hard hit by the ripple-effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA 1993), increased development pressure, and a failure to adapt to a rapidly changing American diet.
Since 2000, the value of Florida’s agricultural sector has been cut in half.4 In the same time period, national organic sales enjoyed double-digit growth, with the sale of organic fruits and vegetables leading the category.5
"(In 2017), organic (was) found on the shelves of kitchen cupboards and in the refrigerators of 82.3% of American households."6
While Florida consumers match national organic consumption, the state falls far behind in organic production. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 6% of domestic farmland is certified organic. This number drops to only 0.6% in the state of Florida.7
Florida farmers must overcome significant challenges that growers in more temperate climates seldom face, including: heavy rainfall, the presence of year-round pests and disease, and a lack of climate-adapted cultivars.
The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is working to identify and promote viable alternatives to Florida's once-dominant citrus, sugar, tomato, berry, and beef crops.
The Organic Farming Institute’s goal is to establish organic best practices for the cultivation of alternative crops on a Demonstration Farm in Southwest Florida. Our research team will develop scalable production methods using the standards established by the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP).
Our ultimate goal is to expand organic agriculture in the subtropics by providing research-based solutions, and hands-on training to the next generation of organic farmers.
'SuperFoods' are popularly known as nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease and prolong life.
The Organic Farming Institute's Demonstration Farm will grow SuperFoods from the UF/IFAS 'high-potential' crop list, including:
SUPERFRUITS: Acerola Cherries, Blueberries, Dragon Fruit, Goji Berries, Pomegranates, and Muscadine Grapes
SUPERHERBS & SUPERFLOWERS: Lemon Balm, Comfrey, Culantro, Marigolds, Purple Coneflower, and Sunflowers
SUPERVEGETABLES: Luffa, Everglades Tomatoes, Seminole Pumpkins, and more
Organic produce, herbs, and value-added products from the Demonstration Farm will be sold in regional markets to support the Organic Farming Institute's Mission.