The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Endangered Foods of New England
Endangered Place Based Foods of New England
According to a handout from Gary Nabhan, keynote speaker at this year’s Common Ground Country Fair, the following local food varieties are ENDANGERED. (To shorten the list, I have not included foods categorized as THREATENED--a lesser risk--or FUNCTIONALLY EXTINCT.) We should find the seeds and plant them or raise the breeds if we can:
Blueberry Brunswick Lowbush
Cranberry Berry Berry
Raspberry Queen of the Market
Flounder Winter Blackback
Rockfish Acadian Redfish
(*Only those Bethel
Also on Slow Campfield
Food Arc of Coles Quince
Garden Royal Apple (Available at FEDCO)
Somerset of Maine Apple (Available at FEDCO)
Starkey Apple (Available at FEDCO)
Williams Pride Apple (Available at FEDCO)
Sweet Cherries Black Heart
Fig Long Island
New York City
Crawford, Early and Late
Dana Hovey (Available at FEDCO)
Vermont Beauty (Available at FEDCO)
Plum Purple Gage
Quince Meech’s Prolific
Abenacki Calais Flint Corn (Available at FEDCO)
* Tuscarora White Hominy
Sorghum John Coffer/Dale Strain
Wheat Red Lammas
Butternut American Butternut
Hickory Fayette Shelbark
Rhode Island Red
Geese American Buff
Turkeys Jersey Buff
Duane Baptiste Potato
* Iroquois Cranberry
True Red Cranberry Pole Beans (Available at FEDCO)
Beets Early Blood Turnip-rooted
Jersey Wakefield Pewa Cabbage (Available at FEDCO)
Carrot Early Chantenay
Boothby Blonde Cucumber(Available at FEDCO)
Jerusalem Artichoke Clearwater
Lettuce Spotted Aleppo
Melon Montreal Nutmeg
Onion Yellow Globe Danvers
Potato Beauty of Hebron
Rutabaga/Turnip Canadian Gem
Squash/Pumpkin Amish Pie
Connecticut Sweet Pie
Essex Turban Long Pie
Nanicote Indian Turban
Sibley Pike’s Peak
Wild Nuts Northern Butternut
Reptiles Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
Leatherback Sea Turtle
Edited by Merry Hall on Sep 24, 2008 11:08 AM
I understand a list of natural endanged plants and animals.
It seems to me that worrying too much about cultivars and introduced species is a somewhat different issue and kind of waters down the issue.
I don't see how Tomato Acme and Hawksbill sea turtle are part of the same conversation.
It does seem kind of crazy that every year there are new cultivars and old ones get lost in the shuffle but if you let most of these cultivars become part of the natural landscape they would either die or quickly revert to their original form. Carrots left to be wild revert to queen annes lace within a few generations.
Heritage seeds have been developed, saved, and passed on from neighbor to neighbor and generation to generation by farmers who appreciate good local harvest. They are not your "natives", but the result of agri-CULTURE. Where would our gardens and our dinner plates be if all carrots reverted to Queen Anne's Lace? Permaculture, as I understand it, honors the place of human intervention within nature, so long as that intervention honors Nature's own principles. It asks us to value and preserve that which is wild, but not ONLY that which is wild. The place-based seeds (and, yes, fauna over which we have far less control) on this list were developed in cooperation among farmer, local soil, and local climate. They are cultivars. This makes our responsibility to them and their value to us all the deeper, I should think.
Edited by Merry Hall on Sep 26, 2008 9:52 AM
I think Gary Nabhan also comes at this from an angle of preserving culture and tradition around food. So the food list may be a bit misleading...the bigger picture is avoiding the homogenization of (well, everything, but...) agriculture and human culture and preserving those parts that worked well in the past and gave a regional richness and diversity to our food sytem and, thereby, to our culture.
|A former member||
Merry, thanks so much for posting this list. I must admit that my first feelings were pretty negative. In my little garden I can manage only perhaps six different varieties of beans (that's what I had this year: two bush, two pole (flat Italian), and one plant each of scarlet runner and Kentucky wonder to keep last year's seed viable. I did not find the two new types I tried this year, the green bush and a yellow, flat pole, to be very productive - I am saving seeds and will plant a few next year because I like variety (and free seeds!), but next year I will select a couple of new beans for trial in my garden, and my LAST consideration would have to be to plant something just because it is an endangered New England plant, what with such a limited amount of both money and garden space.
On the other hand, I am one of the people who have been lucky enough to have had the time to be reading the book that Merry has been working on, and based on what I have been reading, if Merry posted this list there must be some merit to it. I googled a bit and did find the Seed Savers Exchange site and have been reading that. I read David's post which well expressed some of my reservations. And now that I have read Lisa and Merry's informative posts I googled again and found this:
What I actually googled was FEDCO cranberry pole bean because I was just so curious. But read this (from the above link):
I’m indebted to Jon Thurston for much of the historical background on Long Pie [squash].Thurston runs a wonderful Heirloom Seed Project at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Maine, where students research the histories and grow old varieties. When I was writing the catalog description, Thurston directed me to LeRoy Souther Jr. who, in turn, referred me to his parents. The Southers share credit with Navazio for the continued existence of Long Pie. The senior Mrs. Souther was pleased to hear that the variety still lives, especially because she no longer had seed. She was happy to share her recollections, tracing the seed back to a neighbor, Harry Hurd, who had given it to her family sometime in the forties or fifties. Mrs. Souther told of bringing up from her cellar pumpkin canned in 1973 and making it into a delicious pie for her grange supper. That brought chuckles to our office staff, but we were just as glad we weren’t at that particular grange supper! From now on, it will no longer be necessary to find 25-year-old canned pumpkin to enjoy Long’s scrumptious pies.
So my original feelings that these old varieties would still be in demand if they had merit has been completely turned around, not that I should have known better in the first place. So thanks a lot Merry and Lisa. Now when I do the agonizing task of paring down my Seed Wish List to my Seeds I Can Afford List next spring, not only pole cranberry beans will be keepers, but I MUST have that weird pumpkin squash as well.
Don't get me wrong. I can see why people wish to preserve cultivars. I certainly understand why there are heirloom seed projects. I just don't think that they belong in the same conversation with natural species. It just becomes a larger list for them to get lost in.
The thing is we just keep coming out with new cultivars all the time. Bigger, better, tastier, more disease resistant, longer lasting etc. More, more, more, new, new, new. This may not be a bad thing but as long as it is going on, some varieties will be lost in the shuffle. It's a form of artificial "natural selection".
We certainly can't afford to have the same attitude toward our natural species. There is, after all, a huge difference between species and varieties. It's a very important discrimination in my view. No one who is "saving" a variety is, in any way, saving a species. If a tomato cultivar gets lost in the shuffle because it becomes unpopular, there will still be plenty of tomatoes.
When you order your plants in the spring what are your considerations?
I have brought the Medomak Valley High School greenhouse to the attention of the group in the past (without comment). Their prices on all plants are exceptionally reasonable. Much lower than commercial greenhouses. They have the heirloom seed project there and supply inexpensive chestnut trees through their affiliation with the America Chestnut Foundation. I got four chestnut trees there for $6 each. It's worth the trip.
Thanks for the lead, David. When is the Medomak Valley High School greenhouse open for business? Is this a student-run project? I'm thinking in the spring I might see if somebody on the meetup wants to carpool with me out route 17 your way. I'd love to take you up then on some of the offers of trees and ground cherries from your property.
PS: I think the reason ocean species ended up on the same list as plant varieties is because the focus of the list was on our local foodshed. I agree with you that there is a significant order of difference between losing a species and losing a variety. Neither would be happening at such a frightening rate if we lived in a humane culture centered on honoring, preserving, and enhancing life instead of obscene profit at all cost. MSH
Edited by Merry Hall on Sep 28, 2008 10:00 AM
David thanks for bringing it up -- AGAIN -- and Mary too for including info about the Heirloom seed project.
I did a little research and found Jon Thurston's email address. So I inquired about the catalog that his students offered, it seems, at least in the past. I'd be interested in getting some of their seeds too.
I got two MOFGA heirloom tomato seedlings from Paris Farmers Union in Portland this spring. And, like those I had growing last year I noticed the bugs munched on them while leaving other regular hybrid tomatoes alone. I would deduce that's a sign they're better tasting, better all around. BUT they also had more bumps on them making their shapes lumpy in contrast to the hybrids. I guess this is the natural look compared to the homogeously round hybrid cultivar?
But educate me: Are all hybrids cultivars, and vise versa?
Edited by Elaine on Sep 28, 2008 10:10 PM
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