February 29, 2024

The Seed Farm Debuts Collaborations at the 2023 Variety Showcase

by Tessa Desmond in News

Nate Kleinman, Tessa Lowinske Desmond, Mark Bittman, Courtney Streett, and Rasheed Abdurrahman at the Variety Showcase.

The Seed Farm Debuts Collaborations at the 2023 Variety Showcase

Tessa Lowinske Desmond   •  November 1, 2023

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The Seed Farm debuted two collaborations in October at the Culinary Breeding Network’s Variety Showcase at Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming in the Hudson Valley.

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Plant breeders, farmers, chefs, bakers, brewers, distillers, and general foodies gathered under two vaulted event tents surrounded by rolling green hills where cattle grazed.  They were sharing and trying the newest varieties of vegetables and grains in a delicious networking event.  “At this event, the curtain is pulled back,” says Culinary Breeding Network Director Lane Selman.  “Attendees are introduced to the wizards making critical decisions before our farmers plant their seeds.  It’s a unique chance to network, build community, and meet the plant breeders creating flavorful varieties for organic farmers.”

Rasheed Abdurrahman and Courtney Streett talk with Kathleen Finlay, President of Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, and food writer Mark Bittman about Maycock Squash.

The Seed Farm participated in two booths at the showcase featuring the Maycock Squash Revitalization Project and the Okra Oil Seed Study.

Serving a Three Sisters Soup, chef Rasheed Abdurrahman of Food & Friends, ladled bowls full of a vegetable-broth-based soup featuring corn, beans, and squash.  In particular, the squash included Maycock squash that had been grown at The Seed Farm and then spiralized and dried by students in Princeton’s FRS 105: Saving Seeds with Nate Kleinman of the Experimental Farm Network.

Courtney Streett of Native Roots Farm Foundation explained to tasters the significance of the Maycock Squash and the historical purpose behind the traditional method of spiralized cutting.  Nanticoke people typically spent summers on the coast where they would grow the squash.  At harvest, the squash would be cut in thin spirals and laid to dry in the sun.  This practice made it possible for the squash to be carried inland for the winter where it would be used in dishes such as the soup that chef Abdurrahman made for the showcase.

Chef and farmer Jamie Swafford being photographed while he prepares okra salad bites at the Variety Showcase.

At the Okra Oil Seed table, chef and farmer Jamie Swafford of Old North Farm, served up okra-packed small bites consisting of an okra-leaf salad tossed in okra oil, topped with pickled okra seeds and a dried-okra-benne spice mix.  Chris Smith of The Utopian Seed Project shared preliminary details from the okra oil study and highlighted all of the uses for okra as a climate-resilient, multi-use crop.

The Variety Showcase offered the opportunity for The Seed Farm to reach an important demographic of plant breeders, farmers, and chef who play a vital role in shaping local, regional food systems.  Our tables were nestled among those of other incredible farmers and plant breeders showcasing everything from bitter melon, desert pumpkins, and sorghum to ancient grains and little-known herbs.

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