Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Heirlooms, What's Growing On?

What are Heirloom Vegetables?
Heirlooms vegetables are defined as open-pollinated cultivars that were popular and available many generations ago, before large scale hybridizing. Some of these heirlooms are indigenous, some were brought to this country by immigrants, and others were passed down by farmers, families and gardeners.

Our Heritage
Imagine what it used to be like: Farmers and gardeners maintained their own vast seed collections of plant varieties. Over time these plant varieties diverged from the original stock and adapted to local tastes. But, when agriculture became industrialized, the premium on taste and local suitability was replaced by the ability to stand up to mechanical picking, trucking and storage.

It’s not just hype! Heirlooms are highly regarded for their flavors, textures, aromas, colors and other unique qualities. Come to Project Grow’s Fall Tomato Tasting and see what all the excitement is about.

Protecting Diversity
The USDA recognizes the need to recover, protect and sustain seed diversity to maintain the vitality of commercial crops. Each year, a small percentage of the USDA seed bank is planted out and fresh seed is harvested. Individual gardeners contribute too: Nonprofit organizations such as the Seed Savers Exchange have ever expanding seed banks and organized seed swapping. In fact, it’s a worldwide phenomenon!

Project Grow Heirloom Garden, Workshops and Events
  • Located at the Leslie Science & Nature Center, our heirloom garden includes varieties of vegetables.
  • We offer classes in heirlooms, seed saving and plant breeding, plus a Spring seed swap! Check out the Project Grow class calendar.
  • Join us for our annual free Project Grow Tomato Tasting! Over 30 varieties of tomatoes are available for tasting -- vote for your favorite and see the winners online. For this year’s date and location, visit the Project Grow Website.

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