Evaluating the Feasibility of Cultivating Yaupon Holly for its Food Value

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2018-33610-28278
Agency Tracking Number: 2018-00189
Amount: $99,544.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.12
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-02-28
Small Business Information
1101 CHATHAM PKWY, UNIT E4, Savannah, GA, 31408-3047
DUNS: 061450918
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Lou Thomann
 (912) 596-1506
Business Contact
 Lou Thomann
Title: Founder
Phone: (912) 596-1506
Email: Louthomann@drinkasi.com
Research Institution
Project Summary/AbstractWith over a trillion cups of caffeinated beverages consumed each year, caffeine is arguably the world's most frequently consumed stimulant. Caffeine is widely used to enhance athletic performance, body composition, pain relief, and mental acuity. Naturally caffeinated beverages include coffee, black and green tea, cola, cocoa, guarana, yerba maté, and Yaupon tea. According to the Tea Association of the USA, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. Tea can be found in 80 percent of American households. Of the caffeine sources listed above, the wild yaupon growing in the American southeast is the only significant native source of caffeine in the continental US. Yaupon tea was a significant part of Native American and early American culture and is undergoing resurgence in popularity in both the U.S. and E.U. with raw material for processing coming from wild collected sources. Yaupon Holly is widely cultivated for its ornamental value however, there are no known Yaupon Holly plantations established for production as a food. The Yaupon Wellness Company (YWC), is a rural Georgia based company founded in 2013, that wild-picks, dries, roasts, brews, and distributes certified organic bottled Yaupon tea and dry ASI tea products. YWC is currently harvesting approximately 500 pounds of wild Georgia Yaupon leaves per month. The company has developed distribution channels and has launched the bottling of its Yaupon Tea for the Ready-to-Drink (RTD) market.The current barrier facing YWC's commercial viability is the need for a reliable, sustainable source of yaupon holly. Cultivation of Yaupon for food purposes offers a new crop opportunity for quality minded small and mid-sized farms therefore the PI has established the YWC Pilot Farm in order to begin development of optimal production practices and serve as a model for other growers to replicate. This project proposes to utilize this initial planting to evaluate the technical and financial feasibility of cultivating Yaupon Holly for it food value. Specifically the project will: 1) Characterize clonal plantings of Yaupon on the YWC Pilot Farm from chemical and agronomic perspective. 2)Compile plantation establishment and production costs together with yields through one production cycle of the pilot plantation. 3)Utilize the above data to develop a preliminary enterprise budget for Yaupon production based on actual establishment and production costs. 4) Begin development of an outreach plan for recruiting and training potential growers.Successful achievement of these objectives will result in the development of a baseline dataset of Yaupon properties that will be used to evaluate the effects of treatments and make a preliminary determination of financial feasibility. In addition, an outreach plan focused on small farmers will be developed with the assistance of extension and small farm specialists. Assuming a successful outcome to Phase I, Phase II will expand production research and optimize the production system through at least two additional cycles. Phase II will also evaluate the feasibility of an on-farm processing facility and fully develop outreach and training programs including a plan for mentoring new growers through their first production cycle. Phase III will commercialize the research by partnering with existing small farm outreach efforts to present the plan to growers with the goal of establishing 100 acres of Yaupon food production during the first three years.Benefits from a successful project include enhanced profitability and farm diversity for growers, a higher quality, more reliable source of Yaupon raw material for processors, enhanced consumer safety and satisfaction, and positive environmental effects through a reduction in the need to wild collect Yaupon to meet increasing market demand.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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