Welcome to worldcrop.org! This website was established to provide information on sustainable production and marketing practices for vegetable and herb crops popular among the large and growing immigrant populations in the Northeastern United States. Our emphasis is on crops for the Northeastern United States since much of the research implemented on the crops listed in worldcrops.org has been in this region.
Our goal for the information on this site is to provide commercial farmers all the information they’ll need in order to broth grow and market these crops successfully. In many cases we bring the reader to the New England Vegetable Management Guide (https://nevegetable.org/) when the crop is the same genus and sometimes species of the “ethnic” crop on this site. For example, there are many different types of peppers (Capsicum spp.) popular among different ethnic groups that are different varieties than “traditional” types of peppers used in the Northeastern United States (e.g. bell peppers, Capsicum annuum). We provide information specific to the production and marketing for this “ethnic” pepper (e.g. ají ducle, Capsicum chinense) in worldcrops.org and then will direct the reader to the New England Vegetable Management Guide for information on all aspects of production (e.g. transplant production, fertility, pest management) that is the same for ají dulce.
The reason for this information is that the demographics of the United States are changing rapidly as immigrant populations have increased at rates not seen since the early 20th century, and the overwhelming majority of these immigrants are from non-European countries. Latinos are now 17% of the US population, with over 55 million inhabitants in 2014, and are expected to be the largest ethnicity in the US by 2060. The Asian population, with more than 19 million in 2014, is also growing rapidly. A large and growing number of people listed as African-American or Black in the US were born in Africa.
This dramatic increase in immigrant populations has had a significant effect on the U.S. marketplace, including the demand for fresh produce popular among these immigrant and ethnic groups. Latinos and Asians now account for more than 30% of all sales of fresh fruits and vegetables in supermarkets in the US.
These immigrant groups want to be able to buy fresh produce that is part of their cuisine and is readily available in their countries of origin. This has brought with it opportunities for farmers in the United States to grow the crops desired by these expanding markets. The overwhelming majority of vegetables and herbs popular in the countries of origin of these recent immigrants, despite the fact that many come from tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, can be grown in the Northeastern U.S. For example, more than 70% of the 30,000 acres of vegetables grown in Massachusetts are with crops that have their center of origin in tropical and sub-tropical regions, such as sweet corn (Zea mays), pumpkins and squash (Cucurbita spp.), and peppers (Capsicum spp.). There are very few vegetable and herb species that cannot be grown in the Northeastern U.S.
We have organized this site according to countries in the world. One reason for this organizational structure is that many ethnic groups are concentrated in specific cities or neighborhoods. For example, Holyoke Massachusetts has the largest Puerto Rican population as a percentage of any city in the United States. In this case, a grower who wants to grow and market crops for the Latino population in Holyoke would want to check out the crops under "Puerto Rico" on this site.
This video from 2012 describes the activities of the UMass Ethnic Crops Program, which are relevant to the information available in this webpage.