A sweet pea for charity

by Luigi Guarino on November 27, 2015

Thrive, the charity operating in the field of disability and gardening, has been named Thompson & Morgan’s Charity of the Year.

To start the partnership, a new sweet pea has been launched for 2016, with money generated from sales going towards Thrive training programs at the charity’s four regional centres and local community venues. The sale of the sweet pea aims to generate £10,000+. Alongside this Thompson & Morgan is also supplying £1,000 of flower and vegetable seeds to be grown at the charity’s three garden project sites at Gateshead, Reading and London’s Battersea Park, plus 2,400 litres of incredicompost and also incredibloom fertiliser for use in the planting displays.

What a great idea. And a beautiful crop wild relative too.


A newsletter to conjure with

by Luigi Guarino on November 26, 2015

Well, I thought we had our finger on the agricultural biodiversity pulse, but this is a new one on us:

Agrobiodiversity@knowledged is a joint Hivos and Oxfam Novib Knowledge Programme initiated in 2011. This three-year Knowledge Programme aims to break through the barriers that limit the scaling up, institutional embedding and horizontal extension of practices that build on agricultural biodiversity for improved livelihoods and resilient food systems. At the heart of the programme is a global knowledge and experience community of organizations working on agricultural biodiversity with millions of farmers worldwide, where evidence and insights are generated, shared and tested. The knowledge programme aims to synthesize knowledge from a local to a global scale, conduct research on approaches and analytical frameworks that provide new perspectives on agricultural biodiversity and its role in resilient socio-ecological food systems, and improve horizontal and vertical knowledge flows towards positive change and transformation.

There’s a useful-looking newsletter too, though I’m blowed if I can work out how to subscribe to it.


Ruth DeFreis on nutritional yield

by Luigi Guarino on November 25, 2015

Remember Jeremy’s rant a few months ago about how we should measure farm productivity? And my subsequent post discussing a paper on the same subject? Well, Jeremy is like a terrier when it comes to such things, so now you can hear him interview the lead author of that paper, Ruth DeFreis. Head on over to Eat This Podcast for the answer to the perennial question: “If calories were everything, why would we have a billion iron-deficient people?”


Genebank questions in Parliament

by Luigi Guarino on November 25, 2015

So I spent yesterday afternoon in somewhat unusual surroundings, at least for me. I was in the House of Lords, of all places, helping to make the case for genebanks to a joint meeting of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development together with All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology.


Sitting under the painting are the chairs, Ewen Cameron, Baron Cameron of Dillington and Jeremy Lefroy MP, who both seemed very receptive to the arguments.1 It was actually a very knowledgeable and engaged audience all round, with astute questions on how genebanks can help farmers directly, on whether breeders are ever satisfied with the service they’re getting, and on the role of the private sector in ensuring the conservation of crop diversity, among others. Let’s see to what extent the interest, of which there is plenty at the highest level in the UK, translates into financial support for the cause of genebanks.

  1. But who can name the two former CGIAR centre DGs in the photo? []


Brainfood: Heirloom lentil, American oil palm, Trees on farms, Cowpea selection, Apple health benefits, Traditional remedies, Bean landscapes, Maize and CC

23 November 2015

Making Heritage: The Case of Black Beluga Agriculture on the Northern Great Plains. That would be Black Beluga lentils. Which seems a weird subject for feminist ethnography, generative criticism and reflexivity, but I’m game if you are. Genetic and phenotypic diversity of natural American oil palm (Elaeis oleifera (H.B.K.) Cortés) accessions. Four geographical clusters, and […]

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NBPGR’s genebank dashboard takes a bow

18 November 2015

Good to hear1 that the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in India has a new online “dashboard” summarizing data from its genebank, one of the largest in the world.2 There is a separate PGR Portal for searching the collection, though apparently only on basic characterization data so far. Except for wheat, that is, where […]

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The trouble with Ipomoea

17 November 2015

I think we may have mentioned in a recent Brainfood a “foundation monograph” of the genus Ipomoea in Bolivia,1 without actually explaining what that is. Well, I’ll let one of the authors do that: ‘We wondered if we might be able to combine some of the speed of a Flora approach with some of the […]

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Brainfood: Camel diversity, Livestock vs wildlife, Tunisian fig diversity, In vitro artichokes, Habanero diversity, Sorghum diversity double, Greek cherry diversity, Barley domestication, Omani bananas, IBPGR collecting, Buckwheat flow

16 November 2015

Molecular characterization of camel breeds of Gujarat using microsatellite markers. The two sympatric camel breeds Kachchhi and Kharai are genetically distinct. Beefing Up Species Richness? The Effect of Land-Use on Mammal Diversity in an Arid Biodiversity Hotspot. Livestock and wildlife can co-exist. Analysis of genetic diversity of Tunisian caprifig (Ficus carica L.) accessions using simple […]

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How was this harpago used?

16 November 2015

I finally got to see the Feeding the Empire exhibit at the Ara Pacis in Rome on Saturday, and learned a lot about how Rome managed to keep a million people fed most of the time. In one of the display cases, I saw this astonishing implement. It was labelled simply Harpago. No explanation, nothing. […]

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A LandMark that could leave more of a mark

12 November 2015

“…these maps do us no good unless they become public knowledge and indigenous rights are recognized by all who have ambitions to grab our lands.” That’s Abdon Nababan of the Indonesia’s Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance, on LandMark, “a new tool launched today by a broad partnership including the World Resources Institute (WRI), …the first online, interactive […]

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