Southern Peas

(Vigna unguiculata)
Read Southern Pea Blogs Here

Southern Peas (Vigna unguiculata) aka cowpeas aka field peas aka black-eyed peas!

OUR WORK

In 2019 the Utopian Seed Project grew over forty varieties of Southern Pea. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange donated their entire collection to the grow out, and we requested 14 varieties from the USDA GRIN database on the advice of Dr. David Shields. The USDA varieties were selected for their cultural or historical significance and one variety, USDA #1 aka the Conch Pea rose to the top of our culinary evaluation and in collaboration with Dr. Shields was accepted onto the Slow Food Ark of Taste. In 2020 we are focusing on a seed grow out of both the vining and the bush varieties for more culinary work and a wider distribution of the seeds.

This is almost certainly the largest quantity of the Florida Conch Pea (bush variety) anywhere on the planet.

Two years ago we requested 25 seeds of the Florida Conch Pea from the USDA, based on a recommendation from Dr. David Shields. That same year we held a trial to table dinner and offered 40 varieties of southern peas for tasting (numbered, not named). Dr. Shields came and tasted all the peas and declared #3 to be the best. #3 happened to be the Florida Conch Pea! That same year we rushed to nominate this southern pea to the @slowfood_international #ArkOfTaste , where it is now successfully boarded. You can read about the full history on our website.

In 2020 we devoted a 100ft row to the Conch Pea (bush variety) and we now have thousands of seeds. Some will be sent to @sowtrueseed and @southernexposureseed, as thanks for their support and sponsorship, where they will hopefully be hooked up with a seed grower and one day make it into their seed catalogs.

Some will be packaged and listed in our distribution material for our Patreon Supporters, who we greatly appreciate. Some will be given to farmers to grow out for food and some will be kept back so we can continue stewarding it until it is safely grown and saved by gardeners across the south.

We also have the vining strain, which @bakercreekseeds had in their seed banks and shared with us. The vining variety has a different pod shape and the seed is slightly larger. We will be sending samples of both the vining and the bush to Dr. Shields for a flavor comparison!

#seeds #seedsaving #heirloomseeds #conchpea #cowpea #southernpea #slowfood #peas #fieldpeas #floridaconchpea #seedstewards
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Here's a selection of edible summer greens growing at the #experimentalfarm right now. Even though you may never have tried (or maybe heard) of some of these, they are not new. We did not discover them. They belong to cultures older and wiser, ancestral work done to create many of the food crops that exist today, both known and forgotten.

We support eating and exploring these crops, and there is resilience in a diversified food system that will be much needed as climate change continues. But climate justice and climate work goes hand in hand with social justice and social work, so respecting those who came before (the work, the culture, the traditons, the people) is critical to our journey.

This picture shows a world of possibilities, but it also shows the world.

Top Row, Left to Right
1. Permelon (Cucurbita maxima)
2. Butternut (Cucurbita moschata)
3-4. Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)
5 (top). Southern Pea (Vigna unguiculata)
5 (bottom). African Basil (Ocimum gratissimum)
6. Moringa (Moringa oleifera)

Bottom Row, Left to Right
1. Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)
2. Sunset Hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot)
3-4. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)
5. Abelmoschus tetraphyllus
6 (top). Taro (Colocasia esculenta)
6 (bottom). Chayote (Sechium edule)

#summergreens #diversefood #chayote #chaya #taro #moringa #hibiscus #okra #southernpeas #basil #squash #sweetpotato #eatyourgreens #leafygreens #greens #notallgreensarered
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And the vining Florida Conch Pea for comparison (see previous post for more information on this special southern pea!).

#conchpea #southernfoods #southernpea #heirloom #arkoftaste #slowfood #seedsaving
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Picking some Southern Peas before the rain and enjoying the cooler weather. Almost time for some serious digging!

#seedsaving #conchpea #southernpeas
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This is the bush strain of the Florida Conch Pea, which performed exceptionally in taste tests last year and we boarded onto the @slowfood_international #ArkOfTaste with the help of Dr. David Shields. The 25 seeds we started with came from the USDA genebank. This year we have 100 row feet of this strain that is largely being grown for seed increase.

We also found the vining strain and have 100 row feet of that one for analysis and seed stock.

An excerpt from our Ark of Taste submission:

"“The Conch pea is a small white pea, very like what we call Lady peas. For the table they are delicate and tender—a very acceptable dish”. A cowpea, it was heat tolerant and drought resistant, making a crop when most other cowpea varieties failed. There were two forms: the vining conch, the original form of the pea, with its prolific running habit, and the bush conch, a more compact form of the plant developed by Crenshaw Brothers Seed Company of Tampa FL circa 1905 and first offered for sale in 1907. Both forms of the pea were boarded on the Ark of Taste.

Concerning the vining conch: “If planted ten feet apart it will meet up and cover the ground with a dense foliage, completely shading it.” [“Conch Pea,” Florida agriculturist (June 1, 1879).] “The vine is a very low creeper, likes close upon the soil and I suppose could not be cut with a mower on that account. At the joints it has a tendency to take fresh roots. The foliage is abundant, and I believe it will be the best of all peas to shade the land from our summer sun and furnish humus for enriching the land.” [“The Conch Pea,” Savannah morning news (March 15, 1885), 8.] The small white pale eyed pea form in six inch narrow green pods."

#southernpeas #conchpea #seedsaving #seedpreservation #heirlooms #fieldpeas
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It is no surprise that the Maggie Flowers pink seeded pink podded bunch bean is the first to produce out of 30 varieties of common bean. A great variety, proving its worth amongst peers.

#beans #strengthindiversity #beantrials #growyourownfood #croptrials #cropdiversity
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The diversity of beans really is amazing. These are a diverse population that board member, Yanna Fishman, has been working on for a number of years. Photo Credit, Todd Elliott.
#beans #strengthindiversity #seedsaving
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Planting all sorts of things at @frannysfarm today. One early observation is that we've had only one small rain shower in two weeks since planting the beans and cowpeas and yet they've germinated and grown in these hotter that normal, parched May days. Today we panicked a little and began watering by hand but stopped half way, figuring prolonged drought is in our future so let's see how they manage... #resilientagriculture #plantachild #beans cowpeas #cropdiversity ...

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