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!

Malagasy Bambara Groundnut

These bambara beans are raised by rural farmers in southwestern Madagascar. Local women spend their hours chatting away with neighbours while shelling the beans. The reward: shelled bambara beans are cooked in a delicious stew made with the greens of breda (Spilanthes acmella), one of the favourite dishes of the Malagasy people. Bambara beans are quite hardy and drought-tolerant but they do require a long warm growing season like peanuts. Kids can have fun raising them in pots in the windowsill as a novelty.Order it now!

Makata Bambara Groundnut

The bambara groundnut has been cultivated since at least the 14th century when it was first recorded by Arabs in West Africa. Outside of Africa the bambara groundnut is virtually unknown even though it is an important staple crop in Africa. This variety of the bambara groundnut comes from Makata, a village in Uganda where the locals farm this crop in the traditional way by shoring up the plants to make harvest easier. Like the peanut, the pod and seeds ("groundnuts") form underground, and are harvested by pulling up the entire plant at the end of the growing season. The seeds are an attractive glossy brown, often patterned, and they contain a complete protein. The seeds have a rich taste, and are cooked like any other dry beans until tender, though this can take longer than other beans. Groundnuts are very nutritious, with about 20% protein and an almost complete amino acid profile, unlike most other legumes. No wonder the groundnut is called "a seed that satisfies" in Africa. The plants are quite hardy and drought-tolerant but they do require a long warm growing season like peanuts. Kids can have fun raising them in pots as a novelty.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!

Ganxet Bean

This white bean has has a distinctive hooked shape that remains even after cooking. Its incredibly delicate skin and buttery texture have made this variety an enduring favourite of the Vallés-Maresme region of Catalonia in northeast Spain. Genetic studies suggest that the Ganxet bean was first brought to Catalonia from Mexico in the early 1800s. Due to years of unscrupulous business practices the variety lost its original form. But today the Ganxet bean is a protected variety and is enjoying a resurgence of interest. The vines are not said to be terribly prolific and it is slow to mature, but its eating qualities are unrivaled and authentic beans fetch high prices in the markets. Traditionally it is eaten with sausage from la Garriga, or it is served in bean salads made with bacon, but it is also excellent in soups and stews and many other bean dishes. Typically, the seeds are sown in July and harvested in November, but in temperate North American gardens it needs to be started earlier. 120 days. 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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