Monday, July 22, 2013

The All American Seed Company

As July is the month where we Americans celebrate the birth of our nation, I was trying to find programming that celebrated the uniqueness of, well, being an American. This is especially needed for general morale, as it has been a trying decade and a certain party in the Congress is behaving, well, I will let you choose your own adjective. With war, economic what ever you want to call it, social upheaval, the take over of the Supreme Court and our legislative bodies by destructive corporate interests, I for one needed something to remind me why I love my country so much. I know I do, but, well, it is a bit hard to think of why these days, as visions of paint ball guns dance in my head.

I wanted to focus on the contributions that Africans have brought to America as their experience is quite different from other immigrant groups. I had found this aspect of history in terms of the food movement a bit lacking, as well as being inspired by the Slow Food Leadership Meeting in New Orleans that called for a more inclusive food movement in general. There had to be something out there......

In my search, I found the Landreth Seed Company, that has an African American Heritage Seed Collection.

After talking with the owner Barb Malera, I had the same problem as last week, how to distill the program I envisioned into one segment. The benefit of sponsoring my own program and being the producer means, well, I get to make executive decisions, and this one was that I would make MORE THAN ONE program on the contributions of Africans to our American Table.

I found that Landreth Seed Company from of all places Freedom, PA (near where I was born I would like to add) is one of the oldest continuously running business in the US, let alone oldest purveyors of seed to these fine United States. Established in 1784, it is actually older than our Constitution. Many of the flowers and garden varieties we enjoy today were introduced by Landreth.

According to Malera, who has done extensive research into Landreth and it's influence on the American Garden, Dr. David Landreth penned the first how to garden seed catalogue and reference guide. The year after the information packed catalogue premiered, it had a circulation of 600,000. 

The Landreth Site carries a delightful archive of old catalogues and information dating from 1784

We are talking Smithsonian information here, and what is so delightful, and here it comes, now I am remembering why I love my country so much, the sole purpose of these catalogues was to help Americans be self sufficient, to help one another and, Dr. Landreth was an early advocate of preserving the land for generations to come.

The African American Heritage Seed Collection was a collaboration between Landreth and Michael W. Twitty, blogger and food historian. He will be featured on July 26 on Real Food Empire, so tune in! If you go the the Landreth site, there is a lovely selection of garden varieties available. Malera gives a great overview of this and all the collections at Landreth on the July 19th program.

Landreth Seed Company Owner Barb Malera in her Beloved Garden

I could have talked to Barb all day let me tell you! Us Pennsylvania types are so friendly and chatty, she is a wealth of information and in my estimation a national treasure for her work to keep Landreth up as a premiere heirloom seed source. Rumor has it Landreth may come to the Heirloom Food EXPO in 2014, for now, she and Landreth Seed Company are at most garden shows throughout the East Coast, so check out their website or sign up for their newsletter to see what their calendar looks like.

I LOVE MY COUNTRY! Thanks Landreth for reminding me that we are a nation of great people from all cultures that come together to create a more perfect union. What better way to remember this than in a garden filled with heirloom varieties brought to us by so many cultures?

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