Eirik Lillebøe Wiken and Hege Iren Aasdal Wiken‘s Udo (Aralia cordata) has grown a lot since last year and has one of the best views over Fyksefjorden in the Forest Garden! :)
1. Eirik and his Udo now towers over his head..
2. Decaisnea (Dead man’s finger / likfinger) on the left produces fruit with Udo (Aralia cordata)
3. View down over Eirik and Hege’s house close to the Fyksefjord
On 7th August, I went on my first “Kvannsafari” near the mountain village Voss in south western Norway
Kvann is Norwegian Mountain Angelica, Angelica archangelica ssp. archangelica, one of the most important plants in Norwegian history, used as a vegetable back to the times of the Vikings and an important exported medicinal herb in the past. It was a very important vegetable of the Sami people! In my book “Around the World in 80 plants”, I tell the story of a special form of kvann, known as Vossakvann, traditionally cultivated in special Kvann-yards (kvannagard) on the farms in this area. A good historical review of this plant can be found in Ove Fosså’s paper (see http://archangelica.no/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Angelica_Fossaa.pdf and, in Norwegian, http://www.skogoglandskap.no/Artsbeskrivelser/vossakvann).
The aim of our trip was to visit one of the last farms still growing Vossakvann, Olde in Bordalen. Vossakvann has almost filled (solid) leaf and flower stalks whilst wild plants are hollow …in other words, there’s more “flesh”… It is also milder tasting, perhaps because there’s more flesh, the plant producing the same amount of bitter substances which are spread over a larger volume?
Jorunn Ringheim Hernes, who had recently retired from Landbruksrådgivning (the agricultural advisory service) in Voss, had arranged with the farmer, Knut Arvid Olde, to visit. Some years ago, Jorunn had sent me a couple of plants from a different line of Vossakvann, Elgje. Sadly, this line had recently been lost due to the seed not germinating. Further, a third line at Markusteigen has almost disappeared locally due to the fact that the kvannagard had not been looked after (repeatedly cut down) and only 3-4 plants could be found on a visit there last week. The farmer is now aware of this and will try to look after and build up the kvannagard again! The Markusteigen line is the one line from which plants still exist away from Voss (in Oslo and in Orkanger) (seed were collected a few years ago).
I’d heard that Knut Arvid Olde was enthusiastic to conserve this unique variety on the farm and this was confirmed during our visit, although there was a sense of panic in his voice when he heard that his kvannagard was the only one left, partly as he had planned to sell some of the harvest to a local cheese producer! There were about 30 flowering stalks full of seeds and below the plants many self-sowed young plants. I was surprised that all the young plants I tested had solid stalks and Knut Arvid said that they hadn’t selected for this property… I had previously learned that only a percentage of seed propagated plants had the characteristics of Vossakvann, but here they all seemed to be true to form!
Jorunn Hernes will return in a week or two to collect seed during drier weather (it was wet during our visit and only a few seed were ripe). Landbruksrådgivning also have a project to make a trial kvannagard and Knut Arvid was positive that it could be on his land using his line!
Norwegian Seed Savers is, confusingly here, called KVANN (see http://kvann.org) as this is our most important native useful plant traditionally. We have a project, coordinated by Karl Aa (see http://archangelica.no for more information in Norwegian and links) in which we are trying to conserve the different lines of Vossakvann with help of the seed saver network and perhaps also further develop a more stable cultivar.
Here’s the first batch of Edimentals pictures from the garden this week :) More to come!
030817: More added
040817: More added
050817: …and even more added!
Hablitzia roots have an astonishing number of shoots waiting to grow if you cut them down…I like to think that this is an adaptation to human grazing pressure, so that we can repeatedly harvest without killing the plants ;)
Root cuttings work to quickly multiply plants , just ensure you use a sharp knife and have at least one shoot on each root slice! See the pictures!
The reason for my trip to Canada in March / April 2017 was because I was invited by Jean-Martin Fortier to visit and give a talk and discuss perennial vegetables at La Ferme des Quatre Temps, an amazing farm near Hemmingford, Quebec (south of Montreal and near the US border). Jean-Martin is well-known for his book “The Market Gardener” which has sold more than 80,000 copies! This album of pictures gives my impression of my short visit on the farm in very early spring, where a whole area is devoted to trialling permaveggies for the market, the best commercial operation I’ve seen! Thanks for the invite Jean-Martin!
This is the Wikipedia entry on the farm: “In the fall of 2015, Fortier was recruited by André Desmarais, Deputy Chairman, President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation and son of Paul Desmarais Sr, to design and operate a model farm, La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, on a 167 acres property in Hemmingford, Quebec. The mission of the farm is to demonstrate how diversified small-scale farms, using regenerative and economically efficient agricultural practices, can produce a higher nutritional quality of food and more profitable farms. The farm consists of four acres of vegetable production; sixty acres of animal grazing rotation including beef, pigs and chickens, ten acres of fruit orchards, a culinary laboratory for processing and creating original products and a huge greenhouse to produce vegetables throughout the year. The principles of permaculture were applied to ensure ecosystem balance: flowers were planted, ponds were dug to accommodate frogs and birdhouses were built to naturally control the proliferation of pests. Ten bee hives have also been installed on the property to promote pollination and mobile chicken coops allow hens to roam from one pasture to another to feed the worms in manure from cows.”