Jan Lein, northernmost Asparagus pioneer

I was saddened to see in yesterday’s Adressa (local paper) that Trøndelags grand old asparagus farmer has died ☹

As part of my project  for the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre documenting and collecting old Norwegian vegetables, I received a tip about a retired farmer, Jan Lein, who had supposedly grown asparagus commercially on Tautra (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautra), a historic island which I can just see from my house on the other side of the Trondheimsfjorden. The fact that the island is surrounded by relatively warm water in winter makes for a mild climate and early spring. The island and surrounding area is known as Trondheim’s vegetable garden!

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I called Lein and agreed to meet him at his house on 17th October 2010. I met a really nice man who was proud of his pioneering work with asparagus on Tautra which he believed started in the early 1960s. He told me that he even grew organically with seaweed as fertiliser and he grew white asparagus by mounding the plants with earth. In his house, there were a number of pictures on the walls of his vegetables, including asparagus! The plants themselves derived from seed bought from Leuthens Seed Catalogue in Trondheim. He sold on the market in Trondheim for a number of years until his local production was outcompeted by imported asparagus ☹ Her grew about 12-13 different vegetables at that time!

Jan showed me this plant nearby which was one of the original plants

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RIP Jan Lein, the northernmost Asparagus grower in the world?
The pictures below were photographed on his wall:

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On the World’s Vanishing Vegetables

The article that opened my eyes to the importance of conserving our vegetable diversity was 37 years ago, written by Lawrence D Hills, Director of the Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA) in the UK.  This article was in the first newsletter that I received having recently joined the HDRA.  Not much has changed in the intervening years, except it was the oil company Shell that was the “bad guy”. This is well worth a read for anyone interested in food and the history (now and then) of the fight to save our seeds!  We are now 37 years on, we in KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) setting up Vegetable Sanctuaries here in Norway!
I had become a member of HDRA following a “chance” encounter on a train north to Edinburgh where I was studying. I was travelling with a bike as was a guy called Dave du Feu.  Dave was and still is heavily involved in cycle campaigning. On that journey he told me of the Edinburgh Cycle Campaign, Spokes and introduced me to organic gardening and the HDRA, both of which I joined!
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Apple moon weekend

At the apple moon coring and cutting apples is a must..processed a couple of hundred apples today, now drying over the wood stove and in the oven. It’s a it more urgent than normal as -8C when I finally managed to harvest them was a bit too much and they won’t be able to be stored long this year (all have brownish blotches on the outside), a bit like the supermoon picture I just took, see below ;)

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Bird paradise!

It’s about as like winter England as it gets here this morning, grey and drizzling….so nice to have a flock of 17 goldfinches (stillits) brightening up the day and lots of other birds too!

Hawfinch (kjernebiter)

Robin (rødstrupe) with brambling (bjørkefink)
There was also a flock of 100 waxwings feeding in the garden, nuthatches and a treecreeper…Malvik is bird paradise at this time of year!