OPN Connect Newsletter 335 · August 31, 2023

Cal Poly’s Grimm Family Center for Organic Production and Research Forges Industry Partnerships

First established in 2021 with a donation from the Grimm family, Cal Poly’s Center for Organic Production and Research has been busy with multiple projects since its inception.

Collaborating with the organic produce industry is a critical component of the center’s work, and it now has several industry partners. “The center's main goal is to expand California organic production through applied research services and training future organic leaders and workers,” said Dr. Matthew Grieshop, who was named center director in January 2022. “Therefore, partnering with industry is crucial for the center’s growth and success. Industry partners play a significant role in shaping the center's activities by providing research areas, funding support, and materials and offering guest lectures for Cal Poly students.”

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Dr. Matthew Grieshop, Director, Cal Poly Center for Organic Production and Research

The center is currently working with Grimmway Farms, Braga Fresh, Betteravia Farms, and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

“The center's main goal is to expand California organic production through applied research services and training future organic leaders and workers.” - Dr. Matthew Grieshop

“In the spring of 2022, we established valuable industry partnerships with Grimmway Farms,” said Grieshop. “They are a leading organization in the organic vegetable industry, particularly in the Central Valley and desert growing regions. We are currently engaged in two ongoing research projects with them. The first project aims to improve our understanding of nitrogen mineralization rates of organic fertilizers, considering soil conditions, fertilizer ingredients, and soil temperature. The second project involves reviewing existing peer-reviewed efficacy data for USDA organic-compliant insecticides and fungicides used in various crops.”

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The center’s nitrogen mineralization research is funded by the Grimm family’s founding donation, while its research review of insecticides and fungicides is supported by a grant from the Cal State University (CSU) Agricultural Research Initiative and is led by Dr. Shunping Ding, a plant pathologist who works in both the Plant Sciences and the Wine and Viticulture Departments.  

“These projects were developed in collaboration with Grimmway Farms' agronomy team,” Grieshop said. “As we analyze the results, we work closely with Grimmway's team to identify future research questions and package the findings in a useful manner for organic growers, CCAs (certified crop advisors), and PCAs (pest control advisors).”

The center’s work with Braga Fresh began in July 2022 with discussions about Braga’s existing innovative organic practices and ways that the center could build on those. “One initiative involves creating regionally suitable beneficial habitats using flowering strips, for which Braga provided seeds and assisted our Cal Poly Organic Farm Supervisor Kelly O’Neil in implementation,” Grieshop said.

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