On the 12th June, I gave my first webinar at a mainstream gardening conference in the US, the Southeastern Plant Symposium, hosted by the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had thought that the invitation was on the back of a successful talk I gave at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in September 2019. However, it turned out not to be the case and one of the organizers horticulturist and owner of Plant Delights Nursery, Tony Avent, had read my book, enjoyed it and had suggested to the committee to invite me!
I was sandwiched between some great ornamental gardeners and plant breeders including Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter in the UK. I particularly enjoyed Aaron Floden’s talk (from the Missouri Botanical Garden) on unexploited native plants (in an ornamental context) and plant breeder Peter Zale’s talk on Hosta breeding (the market for Hostas in the US is enormous….time for a small segment dedicated to Hostas for food!). Edimental gardeners can, as I have over the years, get a lot of inspiration from ornamental gardeners.
Following on from my visit to Joe Hollis at Mountain Gardens and on the back of a successful talk at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in September 2019, I’ve been invited back in my capacity as “Extreme Salad Man, global expert on ornamental edibles, inventor of the term edimentals, author of Around the World in 80 Plants and (plant) leader of the Norwegian Seed Saver organization”……………..
Announcing that I’ll be one of the speakers along with Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter at the on-line Southeastern Plant Symposium organised by the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University and Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh NC.
A year ago I was scheduled to give the Alston lecture at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Before the lecture, my host Cornelia Cho showed me round the botanical gardens. I’ve collected a series of pictures of the useful plants we saw (with captions). There’s a large Japanese garden which had many familiar Japanese edimentals and perennial vegetables and the main theme of teh glasshouses was ethnobotany! More can be read about the lecture here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=23467
The webinar was part of the course “Ett år i Omställning” (one year in transition) organised by Eskilstunas folkhögskola (folk school), Omställningsnätverket (Swedish transition network) and with support of Hela Sverige ska Leva. A special thanks to the coordinator Emilia Rekestad who also organised my first webinar on Winter Vegetables: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=16704 Please share!
I got home this morning after my train trip around Europe. A very good experience apart from last night sitting up on the train from Oslo -Trondheim (the sleeper was sold out). I did 22 longer train journeys and all apart from one were on time. The one that wasn’t on time was only 10 minutes delayed and it turned out that the connection was the same train, so it had no consequence! I didn’t once think it was a drag and used the time productively—-or sleeping! I visited my parents in England (Chandlers Ford) and did 4 talks in Austria for the University of Graz, Langenloiser Staudentage (over 200 landscape architects, nursery owners and gardeners on perennial vegetables), Langenloiser Gehölztage (on woody edibles…aka wedibles!) and Arche Noah in Schiltern, also on woody edibles as they are planning to plant a forest garden! On the way home I gave a talk on edimentals to Nesodden gardening club…in the same building as my grandson goes to kindergarten…and also gave a talk at NIBIO in Ås on Alliums.
(For a Norwegian version of this article, see KVANNs Nyhetsbrev #12: https://kvann.no/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/KVANNs-Nyhetsbrev_12_fin.pdf)
I toured eastern and mid-west USA for 3 weeks in September / October 2019, on the back of being invited to the Mid-West Wild Harvest Festival in Wisconsin where I gave the keynote speech as well as a couple of classes. One of many highlights was a visit to Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) on September 26, just outside the small town of Decorah, IA, just an hour’s drive from the festival.
Decorah has become a centre of Norwegian-American culture. This originates from a large number of Norwegian settlements that started in the 1850s. Every July, Decorah also hosts the Nordic Fest, a celebration of Norwegian culture. Decorah is also home to the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, the largest museum in the country devoted to a single immigrant group. Until 1972, one of the largest Norwegian-language newspapers in the nation was published there, the Decorah Posten. I have long been a member of the Seed Savers Exchange, which is KVANN’s biggest inspiration, an organization that started as early as 1975 to take care of heirloom plants. Since then, SSE has published a yearbook every year. In the SSE Yearbook you will find, in 2013, as many as 12500 varieties of vegetables on offer over 500 pages of small print. This is real diversity. SSE was founded by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy after Diane bequeathed the seeds of two heirloom plants that her great-grandfather had brought to the United States from Bavaria in 1870!
I rented a car from Madison and drove through a dull monotonous landscape of almost exclusively arable land with ripe corn and soyabeans. The contrast was therefore remarkable arriving at Heritage Farm, where Seed Savers Exchange is located, and where one can find perhaps the largest vegetable variety in the world? They grow here over 1000 varieties of seeds each year and at the same time conserve the nature of the wooded river valley conservation area. The farm was larger than I expected, at 390 ha, but it is necessary to be able to isolate the vegetables far enough apart to minimise the danger of crossing in seed production!
I was really made to feel welcome by the staff of the Seed Savers Exchange and especially by the brand new executive director, Emily Rose Haga, who has long experience in vegetable breeding, and especially tomato, pepper and lettuce varieties, at Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine since 2012.
In the morning I made a presentation to the staff of about KVANN and a little about my work with perennial vegetables which I talked more about in my evening talk (more below)!
Afterwards, I was given a tour of the facilities with Facilities Manager Jim Edrington who drove me around the farm to see the isolation areas for seed production, nature conservation areas, a collection of historic fruits and pastures with Ancient White Park Cattle (see http: //blog.seedsavers .com / blog / ancient-white park cattle-new-babies). Below is a picture gallery from my visit and at the bottom more about my evening talk in Decorah.
After visiting Seed Savers Exchange, I was given a tour of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah with the director before my lecture on perennial vegetables co-organized by the Seed Savers Exchange. What is missing from the museum is obviously a collection of Norwegian vegetables!
The lecture was in Vesterheim’s Gathering Room, where the administrative part is located, an amazing room decorated by Sigmund Årseth’s murals (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWNQe3NmDLY) and to my delight it was full of people from SeedSavers Exchange and other interested parties.I even met the founder of Seed Savers Diane Ott Whealy, a great honour (she gave me a copy of her book) and also David Cavagnaro, Heritage Farm’s first “farm manager” and known from the Pepperfield Project (see http://www.pepperfieldproject.org). Sadly I wasn’t aware who I was taking to at the time! Probably the most knowledgeable group I have had the privilege togive a lecture for!
Many thanks to Amy Antonucci and Seacoast Permaculture for arranging the second of my two part Around the World in 80 plants talks in Portsmouth, NH on Friday night, 4th October (The Mediterannean to New England via Portsmouth, UK)! Great venue, food and folk (potluck before the talk). It felt like coming home to Hampshire, UK, listening to folks talking to each other at the potluck! “I’m from Winchester….Exeter…..etc.”
Thanks also to Becca Hedlund for the accommodation! Thanks also to Greg Martin (and Aaron Parker) who came to both talks! I sent both of them seed of Hablitzia tamnoides 10 years ago in 2009, only beaten by Jonathan Bates and Eric Toensmeier!
The Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth, NH:
Amy Antonucci and Aaron Parker did the introduction:
Hablitzia tamnoides thrives at Edgewood Nursery, Aaron Parker’s place!
A great evening at the Resilience Hub in Portland, Maine after a tour of Aaron Parker’s Edgewood Nursery where I’m staying! Possibly the best stocked edible perennial nursery that I’ve visited! More on this when I return!
Aaron was one of the first I sent seed of Hablitzia to in North America early in 2009, after Jonathan Bates (Eric Toensmeier’s partner at Holyoke). Hablitzia is now a best seller at the nursery and Aaron told me is also grown commercially in Maine, particularly valuable due to the early spring harvest! Another person I sent seed to in 2009, Greg Martin was also there last night!
Thanks also to Aaron for setting up my tour of New England!
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden