Nibbles: Green seeds, Yam bean, Aussie wild tomato, Einkorn trial, US sorghum, Ethiopian forages tricot, Cuisine diversity, Apple catalogue, Hittite crash, Black Death

  1. Let’s say we wanted to transition to a more local and low-input production system in Europe. What seeds would we need and where would we get them from? The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament have some ideas.
  2. IITA is pushing the yam bean in Nigeria. Europe next?
  3. More on that new Australian wild tomato from a couple of years back. With audio goodness.
  4. The largest ever einkorn variety comparison trial makes the German news. Well, makes a press release anyway. Yam bean next?
  5. Another continent, another ancient grain: sorghum in the US. Yam bean next?
  6. The Ethiopia Grass project aims to improve livestock production, food crop yields AND soil quality. The trifecta!
  7. Nice infographics displaying dodgy data on the most common ingredients in different cuisines. Yam bean and einkorn nowhere to be seen.
  8. Cool community-created online catalogue of British apples. Looking forward to the yam bean one.
  9. It was drought that did for the Hittites, not lack of yam beans. Sea Peoples unavailable for comment.
  10. It was Yersinia pestis from Issyk-Kul that nearly did for Europe in the Middle Ages. Yes, you can study the genetic diversity of ancient deadly bugs and well as that of crops like yam bean and einkorn.

Nibbles: Mugumu, Gates, Fixation, OSA, USDA, Panicum, Digitaria, Britgrub, Wheat, ICRISAT, Svalbard

  1. Blog post on the importance of the mugumu tree in Kikuyu culture.
  2. Alas, no sign of mugumu trees on the Kenyan farm visited by Bill Gates recently. But there were chickens, drought-tolerant maize and mobile phones…
  3. …and there may soon be crops engineered for nitrogen fixation too, if his foundation’s project with the University of Cambridge comes through.
  4. Speaking of maize, here’s a nice illustrated story of how the Organic Seed Alliance is helping farmers grow their own tortilla corn in the Pacific Northwest.
  5. To generalize and contextualize the above, read this USDA e-book on plant collections and climate change.
  6. Dr Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute just got a grant to study broomcorn millet domestication and dispersal in Central Asia. There may be lessons for present-day adaptation to climate change, says the blurb.
  7. There are probably lessons about adaptation to climate change also to be had from Kew’s work on fonio and other traditional crops in Guinea.
  8. I wonder if Kew boffins are also working on bere, perry and other endangered British foods though.
  9. It’s always nice to see someone first learn about genebanks, and how they can help with the whole climate change thing.
  10. Meanwhile, in India, ICRISAT gets a stamp, which however doesn’t look very much like India or ICRISAT to me. Plenty of broomcorn millet in its genebank, by the way.
  11. Plenty of seeds from the ICRISAT genebank in Svalbard, as Asmund Asdal will no doubt point out on 10 February.

Celebrating beans, by sharing beans

With World Pulses Day coming up on 10 February, there is probably no better time to sign up for the INCREASE Project’s citizen science experiment, Share the Bean.

You can register your participation until 28 February. What will you do? I’ll tell you what you’ll do:

  • receive a packet with a few different bean varieties to grow in your garden, terrace or balcony
  • plant and grow these seeds following the specific instructions provided by the project
  • nurture your beans, and collect and record information about them using a handy app
  • suggest, and receive, tips and best practices, also via the app
  • harvest the seeds and offer them for exchange, and cook and taste them too if you like
  • send your assessments and recipes for inclusion in “Thousands of traditional and innovative recipes to cook beans,” to be published on the project website

Nibbles: Fonio commercialization, Naked barley, Food books, Ag decarbonization, Nepal NUS, Millets & women, Crop diversity video, Maize god, Cherokee genebank, CWR, Japan genebank

  1. A Nigerian company is pushing fonio as the next global super-food. What could possibly go wrong?
  2. Personally, I think naked barley has a better chance.
  3. Humanities scholars recommend their favourite new books on food systems. I bet there will soon be one on fonio.
  4. Food and agriculture analyst at the Breakthrough Institute pens whole essay on how there should be public investment in moving agriculture from productivity gains to decarbonization without mentioning fonio.
  5. Well Nepal has orphan crops of its own and doesn’t give a fig for your fonio.
  6. Blogpost highlights the role of women in the cultivation and conservation of millets in Tamil Nadu.
  7. ISSD Africa video on the advantages of growing a diversity of crops, especially under climate change. Fonio, anyone?
  8. What does maize have to do with turtles? Gather round, children…
  9. The Cherokee Nation’s genebank is open for business. Maize available. No turtles.
  10. Long article on collecting, conserving and using crop wild relatives, including by Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. Could fonio do with some diversity from its wild relatives? I suspect it’s not a huge priority, but maybe it will become one.
  11. It’s unclear how much diversity of orphan crops is in Japan’s high-tech genebank, but I bet it’s quite a bit. Fonio, I’m not so sure though. Maybe someone will tell me.

Brainfood: Breeding edition