The following is an update post by Dr. Joyce Van Eck.
A new year brings new possibilities!
Well, it’s hard to believe another year, our third year, has gone by for our community science activities for the Physalis Improvement Project. It is an understatement to say that 2020 was a challenging year, but a bright spot for us was hearing from you about your groundcherries and goldenberries. Thank you to everyone for your participation, support, kind comments and taking the time to help us. Your feedback and notes you collected, including on iNaturalist, have been very valuable for helping guide our improvement of the quirks that come with growing these fun fruit.
Sorry that it’s been several months since you last heard from us, but we’ve been on a pause. The covid situation has affected a lot of things in the world, including my ability to get funding for this community science project because a number of agencies put requests for grant proposals on hold until this year. In particular, I was not able to secure funding to continue support Esperanza Shenstone’s salary, who managed this community science project since its beginning. Fortunately she found another job! So, responsibility for the blog fell upon me, but I never seemed to get a chance to write a post until now. You will also be hearing from our new graduate student, Savanah Dale, who has already been contributing articles to our Approaches for Crop Improvement Blog Series. We’ll be continuing that series and will have some new guest blog posts.
I have included some photos from our field last year. These photos were taken in September and as you can see we had excellent fruit set on our plants. The plant pictured above was the goldenberry that originated in India. We have also added a new goldenberry to our collection called Shoenbrunn or Shönbrunner Gold, which originated from Austria. As you can see in the photo to the left, it is pretty large compared to a goldenberry we have from Colombia. The flavor of Shoenbrunn Gold is amazing! When you bite into it there is sweet/tart burst of flavor with a hint of apricot.
I am not certain what is going to happen this year for the community science activities because it all depends on my being successful at getting funding. In a blog post sometime last year, Esperanza suggested that you save seed from your fruit if you want to grow them this year. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).