On July 9th, 2022 students from University of Minnesota’s Applied Plant Science graduate club came to share their joy of plants with the Midtown farmers market. 

A big part of plant science is development of large, nutritious crops for human and animal consumption. Have you ever wondered where your favorite crops came from? Crops come from domestication of wild plant species and take many years to develop. For example, bananas took thousands of years to domesticate! To demonstrate just how far plant breeding has come we played a fun game called “Guess the Crop”. 

Can you guess what crops these are the progenitors of? (Check for answers at the end!)





There is a program at the University of Minnesota called the Forever Green Initiative. This program is domesticating new crops for a more sustainable agriculture system. One star of this initiative is Kernza®, an intermediate wheatgrass, which is the first commercially available perennial grain crop in the U.S. Perennial crops are important because they can help to improve our soil and water quality while adding more diversity to our landscapes.

Graduate student, Lucas Roberts, is showing US’s first commercially available perennial grain crop called Kernza® to a local baker. This newly domesticated crop has a deep root system that protects our water from nitrate leaching and soil erosion.

Just like with people and animals, plants are also very diverse! To demonstrate the large diversity within crops, we displayed different types of seeds. Midtown market goers especially enjoyed seeing the differences between the different types of corn.

Display of diverse array of seeds.
Dent corn has small indentations and is used for animal feed and biofuel production. Flint corn is used for animal feed and masa flour. Popcorn has a pointed tip where pressure can build up until the kernel POPS when heated. Sweetcorn was bred to have a high sugar content and is picked while the kernels are still soft – eaten fresh, cooked or turned into corn syrup. Image: HistoryCollection.co

Plants are very important and provide many benefits for our planet and its inhabitants. We asked market goers “Why are plants important?” and got some thoughtful, creative and all around amazing answers!

Market goers answer why plants are important (to them).

Why are plants important to you?

Answers to “Guess the Crop”: A )Corn.  B)Watermelon.  C) Banana.  D) Carrot