The Crop Trust's #CropsInColor campaign celebrates the critical importance of crop diversity and its beauty and cultural relevance across different landscapes; it highlights many key actors in our food systems – from consumer to farmer to seed bank – who are doing their part in safeguarding, making available and using crop diversity. This short video highlights the 1st of 15 trips that under Phase II of the campaign, will explore the role 10 crops play in 13 countries across the globe.
I went up to the northeast region of the USA in search of squash and pumpkin diversity. Dozens of varieties are being grown and consumed. New ones are being developed. Old ones are being reintroduced. But beyond capturing the stunning, endless colours, shapes and sizes, I had really set out to explore and document the ways in which people in that corner of the world are interacting with these crops. From Swansea, Massachusetts to Ithaca, Geneva, Naples, Norwich, Trumansburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan, in New York State. I met some truly inspiring folks who are, each in her or his own way, helping to transform the food system — using the diversity of these crops in countless ways. From farmers big and small to plant breeders and produce buyers, seed conservationists to seed growers and sellers; I visited a small food company, a big pumpkin weight-off, an urban community garden, street markets and several chefs. The images you are seeing here are but a small sample of what I witnessed in what proved to be a 10-day whirlwind tour. It delighted me to see how interconnected these folks are, how one effort feeds into another, drawing that sometimes invisible line directly from the conservation of seeds in a cold room to the innovative preparations in a chef’s kitchen or to a stand in a market. Those who generously gave me some of their time, and showed me the meaningful work they are doing, are proof that, slowly, we are entering a new era in food production and consumption. And at the heart of it all is the wondrous diversity that is being safeguarded and shared across the world, a diversity that here is being used to grow locally-adapted crops in a sustainable way, that results in keeping old varieties alive and creating wholly new ones that are more delicious and nutritious – varieties that tempt our palettes and are celebrated in more and more restaurants, and, slowly, reach our dinner tables, inviting us to make our eating experience a true, ever-evolving feast of flavours. So the next time you see some unknown, weird-looking squash or pumpkin, take a chance on it. Diversity, in seeds, crops, and across all other facets in our daily existence, only makes life more interesting. (ENDS)
For their unconditional support during our recent #SquashInColor trip to the Northeast region of the USA, we would like to thank the following: East New York Farms!; Fellenz Family Farm; Frerichs Farm; Fruition Seeds; Gramercy Tavern; Hazlenut Kitchen; MazLab Seed Farm, Cornell University; Norwich Meadows Farm; Row7Seeds; Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods; Untitled at the Whitney Museum; and USDA ARS.
#CropsInColor is made possible by the generous support of Corteva Agriscience.