It’s an exciting time. Our first full year as a non-profit and so many project options, we don’t even know where to start! Here are the trials that we’ve settled on this year:

Okra: In 2019, Chris Smith’s book, The Whole Okra, will be published by Chelsea Green Publishing, and so we expect this ongoing trial to get a lot of attention. 2019 will focus on growing another 76 different varieties from 2018, and more thoroughly exploring the top 15 varieties from 2018 (including a Turkish variety that unanimously won our taste test).

Groundnuts: The American Groundnut is a native tuber with huge potential. The Utopian Seed Project has been gifted over 40 strains of groundnut from Dr. Blackmon, who conducted groundnut improvement trials at LSU in the 80’s. We’re very excited to continue his work and bring this native root crop to the forefront of culinary minds. 

Taro: Yanna Fishman, board member, has been working with growing tropical root crops as carry over annuals. She’s had great success with yacon, ginger, turmeric and taro is the next exciting crop with potential. 

Cucumbers: The Utopian Seed Project is closely aligned to Sow True Seed (Asheville based seed company) and is trialing a collection of cucumbers from the USDA germplasm repository. We’ll be looking for potential new varieties to come from this trial.

Water Chestnuts: The Utopian Seed Project was successful is requesting the six groundnuts varieties available through the USDA germplasm repository and have split that limited growing material over three trial sites. This will be a observation and plant material expansion year, hopefully leading to a second year of larger production. 

Beans/Cowpeas: Peter Taylor (photographer) is back on board to collaborate on a photo project around the varietal diversity in beans and cowpeas. We are collaborating with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and others to grow and celebrate a wide collection of rare Appalachian legumes.

Corn: Through a collaboration with Cherokee seed saver, Stephen Smith (who has over 2000 rare corn varieties in his collection), The Utopian Seed Project will be trialing a small selection of those varieties and exploring the diverse and ancient culinary applications. 

If you want to support the project then one of the best ways to do that is by Adopting a Variety via our Patreon platform. Check it out below!