Letter from Center Director Roger Kjelgren
Welcome and thank you for visiting the Mid-Florida and Research Education Center website. We are proud to serve as the premier institution for lifestyle horticulture research in Central Florida, the heart of Florida’s nursery industry. We are home to 11 faculty members specializing in all aspects of horticultural research, from physiology to pathology, pest management to consumer preferences, and water conservation to weed control. We strive to help Florida nursery growers thrive in all aspects of plant production, including scouting for and treating pests, perfecting growing techniques and methods, breeding better rootstocks and even understanding how to meet ever-changing consumer demands and market products.
As a relatively new director of the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, I am honored to help MREC celebrate 50 years of serving the Florida agricultural industry this fall. Myself, along with staff, faculty, other administrators and industry stakeholders hope to recognize all MREC has done in the past, but are especially looking forward to peering ahead and shaping our path into the future.
MREC’s roadmap to the future began to come together last fall when we crafted a new mission and vision statement at our faculty retreat:
- Mission: MREC’s research focus is lifestyle horticulture: profitable yet environmentally responsible production and use of high-value horticulture plants and plant products to satisfy demand driven by consumer tastes, preferences, and wellness”
- Vision: To create and share knowledge of high-value plants so that producers and consumers can pursue fulfilling livelihoods and lifestyles in Florida and beyond.
This mission statement reflects and recognizes the urbanization of central Florida; for agriculture to thrive in an urbanizing environment, plant production must be high value to be profitable (to fend off housing developments), and to be profitable agriculture needs to connect to yet shape consumer demand. Like its core foliage industry constituency, MREC is creating a portfolio of high-value plant products that satisfies discerning consumer demand. This discerning demand ranges from attractive yet low water Florida Friendly landscapes to foliage production for quality interiorscapes, to beverage crops such as hops that impart taste and medicinal properties to beer, to urban food production that can grace high-end restaurants as well as make food deserts bloom and community gardens prosper.
We hope you continue to be involved with MREC and will help us celebrate our 50th anniversary this fall. In the meantime, please feel free to learn about our robust and diverse teaching, research and Extension programs offered here at the center. The University of Florida is in Gainesville, but the Gator Nation is everywhere – especially sunny Central Florida.