In this talk I tell the story of my vegetable-hunting journeys including a trip to Syria in 2011 just as the conflict was taking hold and of the vegetables I discovered as I travelled around the country – most especially Syria’s broad beans, the oldest cultivated crop in the world – and of the need to conserve native varieties around the world and the small-scale horticultural infrastructure where families have grown and saved seed for generations. Other seed detecting trips have been to Myanmar and Indo-China, Africa, throughout Europe, Australia, The Far and the Middle East; places where I have made some very exciting discoveries of heirloom vegetables including a truly remarkable butter bean from Shan State in Northern Myanmar and which I have grown successfully – The Angry Bean – and the story behind its name.
This illustrated talk tells the story of a journey to Rajasthan in search of local and native varieties of garden vegetable where I make some surprising discoveries. I talk about some of the growers I met who share my passion for conserving local varieties and the importance of saving seeds as part of preserving and celebrating Rajasthan’s food culture.
In this talk I recount my journey down the Mekong through northern Laos and of the remarkable vegetable and garden plots that are created every year on its banks as the river flood waters subside during the dry season. On this journey I discovered a number of wonderful native and heirloom vegetables which I now grow and share.
Saving your own seeds is easier than you think, rewarding and money-saving. In this talk I demonstrate the basic approach to saving your own flower and vegetable seeds and how to store them so they remain viable for many years. This is an illustrated guide to seed saving made simple with all the tips and tricks for success. As a HSL seed guardian I grow varieties especially for the Heritage Seed Library and discuss the benefits of being part of the organisation, seed saving and sharing of heirloom and local varieties.
From a neglected field in 2014 to a highly productive fruit and vegetable garden, my plot, overlooking the Severn Estuary is an arc for growing nearly five hundred varieties of rare, endangered, delicious heritage and heirloom varieties from around the world. In this talk I tell the story of my work as a seed guardian for the Heritage Seed Library and the benefits of sustainable and organic gardening. With very little effort one can turn the most neglected space into an imperfect paradise! Filled with guidance, helpful tips and techniques to keep growing affordable and pleasurable my mantra is, ‘If you want to eat great food you really should grow it yourself!’