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!
Wow, this new project sounds quite exciting. I am glad to hear you have such an outstanding new focus on crops to explore. I will have to contact someone here in Kansas City that took over a Taro project after it’s founder had a tragic accident. They have over 20 yrs of growing Taro from John’s research. My guess is they will like to correspond with your project. I loved the Okra publication. My extra copy of it is going in as a drawing prize for SeedSavers-KC annual Seed Exchange next month. Omg the okra oil is amazing. I am quite interested in the groundnuts project. I ordered some from Sow True a year ago but I had dreadful luck with them. There weren’t real explicit instructions and they came quite late in the season. Since they are supposed to be native in MO I expected a crop. The crop Sow True had this fall was super late. So I canceled the order, ground was already frozen here.I think the presprouting idea is quite valid, but more difficult since the harvest came so late. Please add me to your email newsletter on the Utopian Project if you have one. I hope to have some funds to allocate to it after end of this year. Best regards!