Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Krista Jacobsen


Cool season vegetable crops are suitable for both direct-to-consumer (DTC) and farm-to-institution (FTI) markets in central Kentucky. However, crop planning for predictable harvest is challenging. Seasonality issues can be detrimental to FTI markets wherein institutions require consistent, large volumes of product. This research investigates both production and market aspects of salad crops in central Kentucky, through development of growing degree day (GDD) crop models for loose-leaf lettuce (Latuca sativa), carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus), and spinach (Spinacia oleracea), and through a case study analysis for a FTI initiative called the Salad Bar Program. Simple linear regression models of cumulative GDD were reasonably predictive of crop growth stage for each crop evaluated in this work (R2 > 0.70). However, seasonal differences and microclimate effects in season-extension growing environments (i.e., high tunnels) affected model fit. These effects should be investigated in future research to accurately extend model results and refine decision tools for producers. Results from the case study indicated that FTI programs centered on the concept of a salad bar may be successful and were critical in building capacity and markets for a local food hub; however, challenges existed around both expectations of post-harvest quality of soil-grown (e.g., not hydroponically grown) salad greens and competing demands for relatively limited local product in DTC markets. Despite challenges, the technical support to both individual farms and supply chain actors leveraged from this FTI project within this region show promise for state-wide increased capacity of production and marketing of lettuce, carrots, and spinach.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant Program and The Food Connection and University of Kentucky for the duration of the research (Fall 2020-Fall 2022)

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Agriculture Commons