OFRF Grant Recipient Receives USDA Funding to Continue Work with Quinoa

Washington State University announced this week that Kevin Murphy, WSU assistant professor and breeder of barley and alternative crops, has received a $2M grant from the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to continue his research on organic quinoa. We are thrilled that Murphy, an OFRF grant recipient in 2010 and 2014, has received additional funding to continue this important research.

Murphy and his team have determined the best varieties of organic quinoa for Pacific Northwest farmers to grow, and will now work to assess crop yields, prices and more to help growers turn a profit. “Around 80 percent of the first varieties we tried failed – which is kind of our job,” Murphy explains in the article. “We try as many options as we can and if something fails, it’s a learning experience that farmers hopefully don’t have to experience themselves.”

Quinoa, buckwheat, and spelt are ancient grains that have been grown for thousands of years in their native regions. They have served well as highly nutritious staple food sources but have been largely neglected by research universities in the U.S., who typically favor the major cereal and legume crops. Each of these alternative grains is in high demand from consumers and would fill an underrepresented niche in our farming and marketing systems

Funding innovative work at the early stages becomes very impactful when researchers are able to grow their programs and continue work on a larger scale. Several OFRF grant recipients have used initial awards to leverage significant additional funding from state and federal agencies. For example, a research project led by Dr. Carol Shennan and Dr. Joji Muramoto at UC Santa Cruz to examine organic management of soilborne diseases in strawberry production, initiated with a grant from OFRF, led to $2.8M in additional USDA funding.

Information on Murphy’s OFRF funded projects are available here:

Fall 2010
Farmer-based Evolutionary Participatory Plant Breeding for Organic Quinoa, Buckwheat, and Spelt

Spring 2014
Organic Food Barley: Developing Nutritious and Delicious Varieties for the Pacific Northwest

Information on Shennan's OFRF funded project are available here:

Spring 2010
Integrated Soil-borne Disease and Weed Management for Organic Strawberries