FFAR Grant Develops Premium Strawberry Flavors for Indoor Growing Environments
- Urban Food Systems
Food production continues to face ongoing challenges including climate change impacts and limited resources. In response to a changing environment, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) offers a strategy to design optimal growing conditions to enhance desirable crop traits and to minimize use of water or other inputs. Currently, CEA focuses on leafy greens and herbs, as these crops are well-suited for indoor growing environments. Yet CEA has the potential to provide a broad variety of flavorful, nutritious crops. To advance CEA science and to diversify indoor crop varieties, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s (FFAR) Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) consortium is awarding The Ohio State University $1.8 million to determine strawberry varieties that can be grown indoors and develop varieties that will yield premium, novel flavors.
Strawberries have a range of flavors that exist in nature, but that are not readily available to consumers through current production methods. By using controlled environment agriculture, we can better understand the genetic and environmental characteristics that influence flavor.John Reich, Ph.D.
Scientific Program Director Urban Food Systems
CEA allows for year-round growing regardless of location, uses less water and can increase crop yield. Despite these benefits, the success of CEA depends on its ability to profitably grow a diverse range of flavorful, nutritious crops. It is crucial that crops be adapted for the indoor growing environment to provide high-value produce desired by consumers, such as strawberries.
Dr. Devin Peterson, College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Distinguished Professor, Founding Director of the Flavor Research and Education Center and Director of the Foods for Health Research Initiative at The Ohio State University and renowned expert in food science and flavor chemistry, commented on the significance of this research. “The development of strawberry varieties for indoor farming holds tremendous promise for the future of agriculture. This project is an unprecedented deep dive into the molecular underpinnings of strawberry flavor. Our multidisciplinary team of Ohio State and USDA researchers will discover ways to select and grow strawberries with superior flavor, completely indoors, providing a giant leap forward for the indoor farming industry.”
Peterson and his team are identifying strawberry compounds that contribute to premium flavors and varieties that will thrive in controlled environment agriculture. Through innovative breeding techniques and advanced cultivation practices, the research team aims to unlock the full potential of strawberries in indoor farming, revolutionizing the crop variety landscape.
Precision Indoor Plants Consortium
Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) is a public-private partnership created by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) to produce new flavorful, nutritious crops specially intended for indoor agriculture. By focusing on innovative science and technology, the consortium’s research efforts will increase our ability to produce crops that are high value, of consistent quality and desired by consumers. Ultimately, PIP can help food producers grow flavorful, nutritious food indoors.
FFAR’s initial $7.5 million investment is matched by the PIP participants for a total investment of $15 million to develop flavorful, nutritious crops for indoor agriculture. PIP’s participants include AeroFarms, BASF, Fluence by OSRAM, GreenVenus and Priva.