Bringing a taste of home much closer

July 11, 2022

Let’s say you’ve settled in to a new land that doesn’t offer your favorite food, or even some of the staple foods that have offered comfort and nourishment for much of your life.

How far would you go for a taste of home?

Rex Bernardo has learned that for some, the answer can be halfway across the country. Bernardo, professor in corn breeding and genetics at the U of M’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), discovered that some African immigrants routinely drive from Wisconsin, North Dakota, and even Seattle to Twin Cities farmers markets to buy African vegetables grown and sold by Hmong-American farmers. Those vegetables are scarce here, and in many parts of the country they’re unavailable.

So Bernardo, director of CFANS’ Plant Breeding Center, decided last year to launch a new Vegetable Working Group to identify some native vegetable options for local immigrant farmers and consumers, and get test plants growing in the field.