Immigrants in Minnesota often crave a taste of home. U of M researchers breeding African crops for Minnesota

August 16, 2023

Umebe Onyejekwe delighted in seeing ewedu, a leafy green also known as jute leaf or molokhia, growing at the University of Minnesota’s research fields in St. Paul. 

The green is commonly used in the cooking of her native Nigeria, but she didn’t know it could grow in Minnesota, where she’s lived for the past 13 years. Having access to produce from West Africa would be a pleasure for older immigrants and help them save money on trips to specialty markets in other parts of the country. 

“If we can grow our own produce here, it will be cheaper for us,” Onyejekwe said 

That’s the goal of the University of Minnesota’s Community Plant Breeding Team, a group of graduate students at the Plant Breeding Center and Extension service staff. They are partnering with immigrant master gardeners to experiment with staple crops from around the world.

Read more about African crops in Minnesota

Photo credit: Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

Guests at a University of Minnesota Plant Breeding Center event looking at produce