Terra Madre Day—Slow Foods Celebrates Good Things from the Earth

| 12/14/2011 2:10:00 PM

Tags: Winter Vegetables, Lettuce, Kale, Herbs, Egyptian Onions, Southern Gardening, Gardening in the Southeast, yacon, Ira Wallace, Ira Wallace,

Sunday was Terra Madre Day, a global event organized by Slow Food International, now in its third year of promoting good, clean, and fair food for all. We celebrated Terra Madre Day at a potluck in Charlottesville given by the local Slow Foods group. Dishes highlighted seasonal and local fare.

yacon salad 

We brought a salad with a riot of greens, leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, tatsoi and arugula. China rose radishes, and carrots. We added yacon for color and texture. This year was our first time growing yacon, a crisp sweet root vegetable from the Andes. Our yacon is storing well after harvest in October, and so far the sweetness is intensifying. A few people at the potluck, not being familiar with yacon, asked which type of pear was in our salad.

It’s easy to grow and enjoy yacon and still save have enough to plant for next year because each plant has two kinds of roots: the larger edible roots that look similar to white fleshed sweet potatoes and a smaller crown that can be stored to grow next year’s plants. We store both kinds of roots in the root cellar, the same as potatoes.  We are excited with the harvest from our five yacon plants this year – 5-10 pounds off each three-ft. tall plant –  and are planning to plant a hundred foot row in our 2012 garden. We hope to offer yacon starts in our 2013 catalog.

Food historian William Woys Weaver of Roughwood Gardens gave us our yacon crowns last spring.  They were already sprouting, so we planted them right away in our new high tunnel, on three foot centers along then center of four foot wide raised beds.  For fun, we under-sowed between and around the plants with old fashioned vining petunias (every six inches).  This made the beds very pretty and got us a good petunia seed crop!

Hoop House on a Frosty Morning 

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