University of Florida Scientist Harry Klee has begun a new citizen science research project to improve flavor and growing data of Florida-grown tomatoes. A nominal donation to support the UF Sensory Lab allows participants to receive packets of tomato seeds to grow in their home gardens.
Participants are then encouraged to share their plant’s progress and information with Klee to help enhance the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Tomato Breeding Program.
The citizen science research program was launched on January 4, 2021. To date, nearly 200 people have donated to grow new, unreleased varieties of tomatoes at home. “It’s an effort to educate home gardeners in the process of evaluating new varieties of a crop,” Klee said. “They get to be amateur plant breeders.”
Associate Director for UF/IFAS Advancement, Caylin Hilton, said that “this program connects passionate gardeners with research and in turn, provides them the opportunity to try new varieties, help researchers like Dr. Klee select varieties for further development and apply the scientific method n their own gardens.”
For more information on how you can contribute to the tasty Florida tomato, visit https://hos.ifas.ufl.edu/kleelab/new-garden-cultivars/.