UMES Extension researcher shares knowledge of African heritage specialty crops | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

UMES Extension researcher shares knowledge of African heritage specialty crops

  • Dr. Burton-callalooThe University of Maryland Eastern Shore is continuing its efforts to provide farmers with research-based information on locally grown specialty crops to satisfy the increasing demand.

    Dr. Nadine Burton-Stubbs, an alternative crop specialist with UMES Extension’s Small Farm Program, was a featured speaker on January 31 during the second day of the virtual 2021 Urban Farmer Winter meeting.  Her topic was “African heritage specialty crop research.”  The event is sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension’s urban agriculture department.

    Burton-Stubbs highlighted alternative crops such as callaloo, sorrel and scotch bonnet peppers as potential additions to the current cropping system. These crops, she said, are consumed across ethnic groups and have the ability to create niche markets. They are high-valued crops with high yield and value-added potential, which can increase farm income. 

    “By growing these crops, we are contributing to food security,” Burton-Stubbs said. “People from varying ethnicities have difficulty finding food they prefer, therefore, growing specialty crops provides such consumers with safe, nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs.”scotch bonnet peppers

    Apart from improving food security, Burton said, diversifying crop offerings also leads to additional benefits, such as nutritional, economical and environmental values, which are very important assets for crop production.

    The university continues to conduct research and identify new crops such as Jamaica pumpkin, yucca and African garden egg along with specialty herbs that can be grown alternatively. Findings are shared with farmers through extension events and activities.

    For more information on alternative crops and herbs, contact Burton at the UMES Research and Education Farm at 410-621-5450 or by emailing

    Top: Dr. Nadine Burton inspects callaloo.

    Right:  Researchers work with scotch bonnet peppers.

     scotch bonnet

    Above:  Scotch bonnet peppers (capsicum chinense)


    Above:  Sorrell (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.)

    callaloo workers 
    Above:  Callaloo (Amaranthus viridis L.)

    Gail Stephens, agricultural communications and media associate, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 410-621-3850,