The Native Exotic: The Reintroduction of Pawpaw Tree Cultivation
AbstractThis project models the potential profitability of planting the pawpaw tree, Asimina triloba, in New England. Due to the consumer-driven local food movement, and desire to expand local food options, the increase in farmers markets in New England, would allow niche crops, like the pawpaw, to succeed in this farmer-to-consumer structure.
The primary research questions are: Under what conditions could pawpaw be profitably grown by farmers in New England; What are the implications of pawpaw’s historical distribution and future climate change strategies and policies to encourage pawpaw cultivation? Hypotheses include: Pawpaw can be financially feasible for New England farming, driven by marketing to farmers markets, supporting a high price for this perishable fruit, and low cost of production; Climate warming in New England is expected to make pawpaw more profitable in the future.
In order to get a sense of who, how and why people planted this tree I attended the 19th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival, as well as interviewed farmers growing the fruit in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. From these interviews, lectures, first hand experiences, and supporting published material, I created a financial appraisal model to assess whether planting pawpaw in New England would be profitable for farmers.
From my personal interviews, it appears that the marketing aspects of retail is currently fueled by the consumer demand for the fruit. It presently is and will continue to remain, for the foreseeable future, a niche item. This factor will allow for the price per pound to remain high while gaining traction as a new local food offering.
After witnessing the pawpaw tree thriving in New England during my onsite farm visits and establishing from published materials that the USDA growth hardiness zones are shifting, securing the region into an optimal range for the pawpaw tree, I determined the regional climate can support the reintroduction of this indigenous species. My modeling concluded that pawpaw would be a viable, profitable crop for a small-scale, family operated farm. Pawpaw has the potential to emerge in the New England local food scene as a profitable item.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:37945144