Small Striped Melon

This small melon is unknown in the West. Small melons have been grown in places like India and Pakistan for centuries. They are good keepers and pleasant tasting, and they are used in salads or are eaten fresh. This landrace is from the remote southwestern part of Madagascar. Because the people there still do not use chemicals in their agriculture, we believe this melon is better able to withstand pests and disease than the modern Western varieties. Order it now!

Voatavu Cowpea

Many years ago our intrepid plant explorer, Joseph Simcox, was given some impressive cowpeas from Madagascar. The shape was almost round and somewhat flat, a shape that was completely different from that of almost all other cowpeas. Years later when driving on a desolate road in southwest Madagascar he came upon the same distinctively shaped seeds. This unique form is only found in Madagascar, and where it came from, or how it first came to be, is still a mystery. The centre of biodiversity for cowpeas is in Zambia and Zimbabwe, so cowpeas probably came from there. But after centuries of cultivation on the island of Madagascar, the worlds fourth largest, it seems that this form developed in relative isolation from the rest of the world. As Joe says, this is a really cool bean to grow and share with friends.Order it now!

Voatavu Bean

This large white bean is grown locally in the small village of Voatavu, in Madagascar. Beans are popular in most parts of Madagascar in stews and soups. Beans such as this white bean were undoubtedly introduced by the French during colonization and became popular food staples ever since. But over the years the original French varieties gradually evolved, becoming distinct landraces adapted to the local conditions and local preferences. Order it now!

Ugandan Foxtail Millet

Millet may be the first grain cultivated by man, predating even rice. Man learned to cultivate it in East Asia about 10,000 years ago, paving the way for the shift from a nomadic hunting and gathering to a more settled lifestyle based on farming. It is still one of the important grains in Africa grown for a variety of uses, including brewing, cooked staple use, and as a cereal and porridge. This particular variety is ground for flour and used to thicken stews and cooked with vegetable greens as a hearty and rich porridge. Foxtail millet does well in well-drained soil in sunny locations but needs a long warm summer in order to produce a good crop. It produces reliably in the southern U.S. states but in the cooler, more temperate northern zones it must be started in pots indoors and transplanted outdoors after the danger of frost is past. Very drought resistant. Order it now!

White Ntula

Ntula is a traditional food plant of Africa, similar to the gilo eggplants of Brazil. Little known outside Africa, these small eggplants are attracting attention because of their nutritional qualities and their potential to boost food security. Eaten cooked or raw, the small fruits are an acquired taste as they are somewhat bitter. Gilo fruits in all their various forms and colorations are very popular in Brazil, West and East Africa, and this attractive white form from Uganda is one of the many types available. Ntula fruits are delicious cooked with chicken, lamb, or lentils. Cynthia Bertelsen´s recipe, Spicy Pumpkin and Eggplant Stew, is an inspired adaptation of a traditional West African dish featuring gilo eggplants. Ntula seeds should be started early and transplanted to the garden after the danger of frost is past. Order it now!

Gialet della Val Belluna Bean

This beautiful, sulphur-yellow variety was once a gift from Pope Clement VII to a cleric. In 1532, the cleric, humanist, and writer, Pierio Valeriano Bolzani, received the beans for some work he had done for the Pope and, according to legend, he was to distribute the variety to the needy. Bolzani sowed the seeds in his native region of Val Belluno in northern Italy, and so began the cultivation of beans in Italy. Over the centuries a vast array of bean varieties have emerged in Italy, but today Gialet is still recognized as one of the best and most flavourful. Sulphur yellow before cooking, it is very tender, with the skin almost dissolving during cooking. Despite its beauty and delicate and distinct flavor, it remains cultivated by just small handful of farmers in the region of Val Belluna. Order it now!

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