The Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA, also known as Garden Organic) is setting up an Exotic Seeds Collection.
This is similar to the Heritage
Library, but aimed at collecting non-traditional edible plants which have
rarely if ever been comercially sold in this country. They may have been brought
with different immigrant communities or been handed down the generations
from an allotment of a neighbour or friend.
We're aiming to try to save unusual or little known (often warm climate
origin) crops - some examples include amaranth or calalloo, eddoes or
taro, Hamburg parsley, chick peas, chillies, white maize, dudi, yard-long
beans, black-eye beans and so on. We also want the stories of why those crops are
Reasons the project is important -
1. The climate appears to be changing dramatically - gardeners will
need to find new genetic resources to breed more climate-tolerant
veg/potential new crops soon.
2. The knowledge of how to grow these crops in the UK is limited
may die with their growers: many of the older allotment holders from a
of cultures, such as Eastern European, Asian and Afro-Caribbean
are reaching an age when they can no longer be as active on their plots.
they want to leave viable seeds for their grandchildren? we can help
and grow on their seeds, even if their children are not interested in
gardening now, so their efforts in cultivating their own, special plants
not lost when they can't garden any longer due to old age or ill health.
3. Food security/reducing food miles - as the price of fuel goes ever
we need to grow more of our own food. The UK's eating habits have changed
dramatically in the past 40 years, so shouldn't the veg we grow reflect
even more than it does now? If we're happy to eat ethnic, why not grow
What we would like people to do:
Tell as many people who grow veg about the project as they can - we hope
be as well known as the Heritage Seed Library in 12 months.( Eventually
hope to have grown on enough seeds to be able to share them with
people, just like the heritage seed library does now)
Think if they grow something which might come into the range of plants
covered by the project - or if they know somebody who does.
Ask themselves if they would like to become involved in the project.
If they would like to help, please consider growing an
plant for seed production this coming growing season (if they haven't got
room or time, maybe ask a friend to grow on a seedling for them)
And please tell us why the plant is special - did it grow in
grandparent's garden? Is it something which is connected with a festival
particular dish or eaten at a certain time of year? Or does it just taste
If you want to take part in the Exotic Seeds Project, please contact
Sally Cunningham or Anton Rosenfeld
The Exotic Seeds Collection Project
CV 8 3LG
email: scunningham (at) gardenorganic.org.uk
or arosenfeld (at)gardenorganic.org.uk
I've written it this way to avoid spammers.
ND / habitat21.
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