Now is a great time to drop by the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s demonstration center, to check out thriving young vegetables plants that are more commonly grown in Africa and Asia.
One of the garden beds is home to vegetable seedlings that are grown in Africa, sometimes called African indigenous vegetables. These include varieties of:
Spiderplant and amaranth in particular are two of the leafy African vegetables that Horticulture Innovation Lab researchers are working with in Kenya and Zambia, in efforts to improve nutrition and better understand the connection between farmers who grow these nutritious vegetables and people who eat them.
Editor’s note: Archie Jarman joined the Horticulture Innovation Lab team as its new program officer, just in time to participate in the program’s annual meeting in March. He brings a wealth of international experience to this position, which includes coordinating the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s Regional Centers around the globe. Here is a brief interview to introduce you to Archie and his background. We hope you have a chance to meet him soon!
Question: Tell us about your background. How did you come to work for the Horticulture Innovation Lab?
Archie Jarman: By winding road. I worked for the fire service, which is a great career, and made some lifelong friends, but I had the international travel itch. So I studied International Social Welfare at Columbia University and also interned at the Millennium Villages Project with a focus on whether safety net programs improve childhood nutrition domestically and abroad. After graduating, I then worked at Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., as coordinator and then as project manager with excellent teams for their USAID-funded projects. The projects are aimed at improving the abiotic stress tolerance of rice and wheat in Africa and Southeast Asia and incorporated capacity building. The position at the Horticulture Innovation Lab seemed ideal in that I have strengths that could be beneficial for the program, but it also provided a lot of challenges for me to improve my weaknesses and learn. I am thankful it worked out! Very happy to join the team.
Can you tell us more about the projects and crops you were working with at Arcadia Biosciences?
Elizabeth Mitcham, director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture and a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in postharvest biology for the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, represented the DryCard during the competition.
As a UC Davis graduate student, Lewis works for the Horticulture Innovation Lab as a manager of the Trellis Fund while pursuing dual master’s degrees in International Agricultural Development and Agricultural and Resource Economics, with an emphasis on monitoring and evaluation.
The Horticulture Innovation Lab launched the Trellis Fund in 2011 based on an idea from a graduate student, Peter Shapland, at the University of California, Davis, who identified a key gap in international agricultural funding. One of the main aims of the Trellis Fund is to fill this gap by provide funding to effective local organizations working on horticulture and then matching each funded project with a U.S. graduate student who can act as a consultant, sharing their agricultural expertise with the project. The projects last for approximately 6 months and have covered topics all along the value chain, including seed saving techniques in Zambia and vegetable production in Honduras. Since 2011, the program has completed 47 Trellis projects in 17 countries, with nine new projects recently started in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Nepal and Cambodia.
Here are five ways the Trellis Fund aims to generate impact:
1. Building local organizations’ capacity to grow and improve their programs
The Trellis Fund is designed to provide a “trellis” for local organizations to further grow their organizations, building their own capacity to design projects, write grants and work with international donors. For example, each proposal we receive undergoes a rigorous review process, and Continue reading 5 ways Trellis Fund grants generate impact
The Horticulture Innovation Lab invites organizations in developing countries to compete for new Trellis Fund grants up to $4,000 each for 6-month projects, to extend horticultural information to local farmers and stakeholders along fruit or vegetable value chains.
Project proposals may address horticultural crop production, irrigation, plant nutrition, pest management, postharvest practices or marketing issues in relation to fruits and vegetables. Once projects are selected, the Trellis Fund will connect organizations with U.S. graduate students who have related agricultural expertise for project support.
Both new organizations and previously awarded organizations are encouraged to apply. Organizations based in these countries are eligible to apply:
In Africa: Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia
In Latin America and the Caribbean: Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras
In Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, and Tajikistan