Thanks to Guren Efferus (Efferus Veksthus) for the box of plants which have arrived in good condition….and the box can also be recycled! As the temperature dropped yesterday evening, after a record warm start to May, it was perfect insulation for my afternoon nap after a day of bastard digging at Væres Venner Community Garden so that we could earth in the plants until we find a permanent place at Være and Hurdal! This is the first step for KVANNs (Norwegian Seed Savers first vegetable (useful plant) sanctuaries
Follow the link above for a good video in English where Johan Swärd, winner of the Norwegian Plant Heritage prize, tells the story of Svedjerug (literally Slash and Burn Rye), an old variety which was rescued when a few seeds were found between the floorboards on an old farm in Finnskogen, Norway before being grown out at the Hamar Domkirkeodden Urtehagen (Herb garden at the Hamar Cathedral ruins; see a picture of one of the plants growing there in 1988: https://no.wikisource.org/wiki/Svedjebruk#/media/File:Ryesod.JPG). Johan got his seeds from there and has done great work in popularising it (I can now even buy flour and grain in one of the better supermarkets in Trondheim):
It’s a very tall rye (over 2m) traditionally sown in summer and harvested the year after as part of the slash and burn agriculture (spruce forest) introduced by the Forest Finns (Skogfinner) to parts of Norway and Sweden. Johan tells how as many as 100 straws can in optimal conditions be produced from a single seed and up to 100 grains in each ear, an amazing total of 10,000 grains from a single plant! He also explains why it is important not only to store old varieties like Svedjerug in gene banks like Svalbard, but also to continue to grow them and select them for changing conditions.
Seed of Svedjerug has been offered in our Norwegian Seed Savers Yearbook (norwegianseedsavers.no), coming out in February, another good reason to support our work!
Below are two pictures taken during a workshop Johan gave at the Permaculture Festival in Hurdal in 2013!