Exciting project will sow new seedsPosted Friday 19th February 2010
Seeding Amaranth - copyright Sally Cunningham
The culture for growing non-traditional crops in gardens and allotments throughout the UK will be the focus of a brand new project from Garden Organic.
The Initiative, Sowing New Seeds, funded by the Big Lottery Local Food Fund and The Brook Trust, will directly enable many more gardeners in the East and West Midlands to grow non-traditional crops, while also documenting how to grow them based on the experiences of the region's diverse communities.
Garden Organic, which also runs the UK's famous Heritage Seed Library dedicated to conserving the genetic diversity of vegetables, hopes that the project will unearth lots of interesting edible plants. Sally Cunningham of the Sowing New Seeds project, said, 'The UK's population has changed dramatically in the past 40 years and so have our eating habits. People from all over the world have settled here and grown vegetables from their native homes such as callaloo, white maize, Hamburg parsley, dudi, black-eye beans and water chestnuts. Many of these plants originate from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America or the Caribbean, and may eventually become adapted successfully to local conditions here in the UK.
"Sowing New Seeds is about finding out what these plants are, hearing the stories of where they've originated and how they can be successfully grown in our region. Many of these exotic vegetables are grown by elderly allotment holders and gardeners and we want to preserve the seeds, experience and knowledge before it is too late."
To get the project off the ground and to begin the process of discovering, documenting and preserving what is grown in the Midlands region, Garden Organic is calling for anyone that grows exotic vegetables to come forward to share seeds and information.
The project's end aim is to give many more people in the East and West Midlands the chance to access and grow exotic seeds that have been grown under local conditions. Some of the varieties will also enter Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library, to be safeguarded and conserved for future generations. The project will also produce vital fact sheets on how to grow the non-traditional crops, as well as events to demonstrate crop cultivation, seed saving, storage and cooking. Garden Organic will also set up a brand new exotic crop garden at its flagship site, Ryton Gardens in Warwickshire.
Sowing New Seeds also works with the following project partners: Women's Environmental Network (WEN), Black Environment Network (BEN)
Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners, Groundwork Midlands, Soil Association CSA programme