About Farmroot

What's a Specialty Crop?

“Eat your fruits and vegetables.” You've likely heard this statement since childhood. Research shows why it is good advice. Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables are generally what people think of when we talk about specialty crops, but the definition of a specialty crop is actually slightly broader. The USDA defines specialty crops as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.

While specialty crops in the U.S. represent may seem small, comprising only 3% of harvested crop lands, they represent 40% of the harvest value and that value is growing quickly compared to other crops and agricultural commodities. As of 2007 there are over 247,000 specialty crop farms in the U.S., farming on nearly 14 million acres. Of that amount, family farms comprised nearly 200,000 farms, on close to 6 million acres. The market value of specialty crop agricultural products sold was roughly $68 billion dollars. According to this report roughly 95,000 specialty crop farms employ 1.3 million workers.



What Do Specialty Crop Farmers Grow?

While not comprehensive, USDA identifies following list of plants as commonly considered to be specialty crops:

Fruits & Nuts

Almond
Apple
Apricot
Avocado
Banana
Blackberry
Blueberry
Breadfruit
Cacao
Cashew
Cherimoya
Cherry
Chestnut (for nuts)
Citrus
Coconut
Coffee
Cranberry
Currant
Date
Feijoa
Fig
Filbert (hazelnut)
Gooseberry
Grape (including raisin)
Guava
Kiwi
Litchi
Macadamia
Mango
Nectarine
Olive
Papaya
Passion fruit
Peach
Pear
Pecan
Persimmon
Pineapple
Pistachio
Plum (including prune)
Pomegranate
Quince
Raspberry
Strawberry
Suriname cherry
Walnut

Vegetables

Artichoke
Asparagus
Bean, Snap or green Lima (dry, edible)
Beet, tableBroccoli (including broccoli raab)
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage (including Chinese)
Carrot
Cauliflower
Celeriac
Celery
Chickpeas
Chive
Collards (including kale)
Cucumber
Edamame
Eggplant
Endive
Garden, English or edible pod
Garlic
Horseradish
Kohlrabi
Leek
Lentils
Lettuce
Melon (all types)
Mushroom (cultivated)
Mustard and other greens
Okra
Onion
Opuntia
Parsley
Parsnip
Pea
Pepper
Potato
Pumpkin
Radish (all types)
Rhubarb
Rutabaga
Salsify
Spinach
Squash (summer and winter)
Sweet corn
Sweet potato
Swiss chard
Taro
Tomato (including tomatillo)
Turnip
Watermelon

Culinary Herbs & Spices

Ajwain
Allspice
Angelica
Anise
Annatto
Artemisia (all types)
Asafetida
Basil (all types)
Bay (cultivated)
Bladder wrack
Bolivian coriander
Borage
Calendula
Candle nut
Caper
Caraway
Cardamom
Cassia
Catnip
Chamomile
Chervil
Chicory
Cicely
Cilantro
Cinnamon
Clary
Cloves
Comfrey
Common rue
Coriander
Cress
Cumin
Curry
Dill
Fennel
Fenugreek
Filé (gumbo, cultivated)
Fingerroot
French sorrel
Galangal
Ginger
Hops
Horehound
Hyssop
Lavender
Lemon balm
Lemon thyme
Lovage
Mace
Mahlab
Malabathrum
Marjoram
Mint (all types)
Nutmeg
Oregano
Orris root
Paprika
Parsley
Pepper
Rocket (arugula)
Rosemary
Rue
Saffron
Sage (all types)
Savory (all types)
Tarragon
Thyme
Turmeric
Vanilla
Wasabi
Water cress

Medicinal Herbs

Annual Bedding Plants
Artemisia
Arum
Astragalus
Begonia
Boldo
Cananga
Coleus
Comfrey
Coneflower
Dahlia
Fenugreek
Feverfew
Foxglove
Geranium
Ginkgo biloba
Ginseng
Goat's rue
Goldenseal
Gypsywort
Honey
Hops
Horehound
Horsetail
Horticulture
Impatiens
Lavender
Liquorice
Maple Syrup
Marigold
Marshmallow
Mullein
Pansy
Passion flower
Patchouli
Pennyroyal
Petunia
Pokeweed
Senna
Skullcap
Snapdragon
Sonchus
Sorrel
St. John's wort
Stevia
Tansy
Tea Leaves
Turfgrass
Urtica
Vegetable Transplants
Witch hazel
Wood betony
Wormwood
Yarrow
Yerba buena

Potted Flowering Plants

African Violet
Azalea
Florist Chrysanthemum
Flowering Bulbs
Hydrangea
Lily
Orchid
Poinsettia
Rose

Potted Herbaceous Perennials

Astilbe
Columbine
Coreopsis
Daylily
Delphinium
Dianthus
Garden Chrysanthemum
Heuchera
Hosta
Ivy
Ornamental Grasses
Peony
Phlox
Rudbeckia
Salvia
Vinca

Cut Flowers

Carnation
Chrysanthemum
Delphinium
Gladiolus
Iris
Lily
Orchid
Rose
Snapdragon
Tulip

Cut Cultivated Greens

Asparagus Fern
Coniferous Evergreens
Eucalyptus
Holly
Leatherleaf Fern
Pittosporum

Foliage Plants

Anthurium
Bromeliad
Cacti
Dieffenbachia
Dracaena
Fern
Ficus
Ivy
Palm
Philodendron
Spathipyllum

Christmas Trees

Balsam Fir
Blue Spruce
Douglas Fir
Fraser Fir
Living Christmas Tree
Noble Fir
Scots Pine
White Pine

Deciduous Flowering Trees

Crabapple
Crepe Myrtle
Dogwood
Flowering Cherry
Flowering Pear
Flowering Plum
Hawthorn
Magnolia
Redbud
Service Berry

Broadleaf Evergreens

Azalea
Boxwood
Cotoneaster
Euonymus
Holly
Pieris
Rhododendron
Viburnum

Deciduous Shade Trees

Ash
Elm
Honey Locust
Linden
Maple
Oak
Poplar
Sweetgum
Sycamore

Landscape Conifers

Aborvitae
Chamaecyparis
Fir
Hemlock
Juniper
Pine
Spruce
Yew

Deciduous Shrubs

Barberry
Bubbleia
Hibiscus
Hydrangea
Rose
Spirea
Viburnum
Weigela




About our Mission


Our Mission

Farmroot seeks to provide an effective voice on legislative issues and public policy in support of specialty crop farmers. Through research, strategic communication and advocacy Farmroot helps develop and support public policy and legislation that improves the ability of specialty crop farmers to participate in a strong economically, socially and environmentally sustainable food supply in the United States.

Our Values

We value policies and legislation based on scientifically supported data.

We value a strong and globally competitive food system that respects the rights of farmers and farm workers around the globe.

We value farm policy that provides opportunities and support for new crops, technologies, and management in to maintain the competitiveness of US agriculture including specialty growers.



Farmroot Team


Farmroot Board of Directors

“The Farmroot Advisors provides expert counsel and support for raising awareness of key specialty issues and public policy impacting specialty crop farming in the United States.”

Phil Gottwals

Katherine Brieger, MA, RD, CDE
Director

Katherine is nationally recognized for her expertise in Care Coordination, Nutrition Services and Diabetes Management. She is Chief of Human Resources and Executive Director of HRHCare Planetree Institute and has been associated with HRHCare for over 27 years. Hudson River HealthCare (HRHCare) is a not-for-profit, federally qualified health center delivering comprehensive primary, preventive and behavioral health services. Katherine is also the President of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, and served a three-year term on the National Advisory Council on Maternal, Infant and Fetal Nutrition, including one year as Chairperson. She served as a faculty member of the national Health Disparities Collaborative (HDC) from 2000-2009. Katherine continues to serve as a long-standing member in the New York State Diabetes Task Force and has designed numerous successful programs that address diabetes and special populations, most specifically migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

Phil Gottwals

Phil Gottwals
Director

Phil brings over 16 years of experience in agricultural development and marketing at the local, state, and national level as well as the experience of successfully starting and managing three food and development oriented businesses. Phil’s projects include strategic and business planning for public and private sector clients, regional studies of food marketing systems, and the design of Southern Maryland's tobacco-transition program.

Brian Nault, PhD

Brian A. Nault, PhD
Director

Brian is a Professor in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. His research and extension program focuses on applied insect ecology and pest management in vegetable crops, especially onion, potato and snap bean. He also has become interested in pollination services provided by native bees in vine crops, in particular pumpkin. Before coming to Cornell, Brian was an Assistant Professor in the Entomology Department at Virginia Tech, in Painter, VA. Brian majored in Entomology for all three degrees: he received a B.S. from The Ohio State University, a M.S. from the University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University