Press Release

#CropsInColor Welcomes the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Food Tank, and the Tastes of Appalachia

The Crop Trust’s global #CropsInColor campaign, with additional support from the Oak Spring Garden, and with Food Tank as an official media partner, has as its next stop: the richly diverse mountains of the southeastern United States.

Soup beans, cornbread, and cider are on the minds of all three partners today as the #CropsInColor team makes plans to continue the multi-year, multi-country campaign. Through this one-of-a-kind project, the Crop Trust will highlight the roles that 10 food crops play in countries around the world – and will celebrate their local variations through photography, video, and stories.

#CropsInColor, began in Latin America in 2015, and has grown in reach with each chapter as the #CropsInColor team finds more ways to tell and share stories of agricultural biodiversity and food cultures in action. Each chapter is guided by active partnerships at every stage of the journey, so it is particularly exciting to welcome two new partners with closely aligned interests that can amplify the collective impact of #CropsInColor.

The Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OSGF) joins lead sponsor Corteva Agriscience in supporting #CropsInColor. OSGF works to encourage world-class scholarship, artistic creativity, fresh thinking and bold action on the history and future of plants, including the art and culture of plants, gardens, and landscapes.

Along with OSGF, Food Tank joins the #CropsInColor campaign as its official media partner. Food Tank, the think tank for food, is a nonprofit focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. And over the next three years, Food Tank will be developing stories around the crops, cuisines, and cultural traditions that #CropsInColor encounters.

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A collaboration with a sense of place

The next destination for #CropsInColor is a direct outcome of the new partnership with OSGF. The OSGF estate is nestled in the northeastern foothills of Appalachia in Upperville, Virginia, and the Foundation has a special commitment to the region’s crops and their place in its history and traditions.

“Appalachia is the single most diverse region of the United States in terms of the varieties of crops grown, which also reflects great cultural and culinary diversity” says plant scientist Sir Peter Crane, President of OSGF. “#CropsInColor will be working with the people who know Appalachia best to celebrate Appalachia together through its crops.”

Food Tank will join the Crop Trust on two trips through Appalachia – first in mid-September, and then in spring 2020 focusing not on a single crop, but a full spread of six Appalachian essentials:

  • Apples, carefully conserved heirlooms used for everything from cider to apple butter
  • Beans, a staple of the everyday Appalachian diet with surprising variety
  • Corn, in many forms, with grits only the beginning of the story
  • Tomatoes, whether hand-picked red or fried green
  • Squash, from yellow in the summer to any color imaginable in the fall
  • Chili peppers, powering some of the best barbecue in the world

Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust, said “We thank OSGF for allowing us to expand #CropsInColor, and reiterate our thanks to Corteva for believing in and supporting the initiative. Celebrating diversity isn’t just about sharing local food cultures with the world. It is about understanding, together, the need to conserve and make available the foundations of all food security, which will allow future generations to continue these same, delicious culinary traditions.”

“We are just as delighted to have Food Tank join us in the campaign. Their commitment to highlighting the realities of our global food system, their talent in attracting participants from all sectors of that system, and their will to influence the way we produce and eat, are inspirational,” Marie says.

Discussions about a potential Appalachian journey began during last year’s meeting of the Food Forever Initiative, hosted by Corteva, where the Crop Trust sat down with Food Forever Champions and Partner Organizations including OSGF and Food Tank.

“The foodways of Appalachia have a strong draw all their own,” says Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank, and Food Forever Champion. “Behind every heirloom variety and every recipe are memories – of perseverance, of family and community, and of making more out of less. And the region’s agricultural diversity is very much a part of it all. There is so much to learn: from farmers, activists, chefs, food workers, and other stakeholders. We simply can’t wait to take a close look along with the Crop Trust.”

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Preparations are well on their way, and the Crop Trust is grateful for the support that many friends and partners in Appalachia have already provided. They include:

  • Rosann Kent, Director, Appalachian Studies Center at the Historic Vickery House, University of North Georgia;
  • Dr. James Veteto, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology,  Western Carolina University, and Executive Director of the Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies;
  • Dr. Craig LeHoullier, gardener, author, lecturer and “amateur tomato breeder” responsible for naming and popularizing well-known tomatoes such as Cherokee Purple.

Additionally, as in the past, guidance provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its Agricultural Research Service (ARS), as well as Seed Savers Exchange has been invaluable. Previous collaborators like USDA molecular biologist Joanne Labate and Cornell University squash legend Michael Mazourek have also helped connect the #CropsInColor team with Southern experts of the kitchen, garden, and breeding plot, who together keep generations-old traditions at the forefront of transforming Appalachian foodways.

This latest chapter also follows a #CropsInColor trip to Central America to taste and photograph a 70-year story of coffee; and, more recently, to Rwanda, where a meal without beans is no meal.

In upcoming journeys, #CropsInColor will turn the camera on bananas in Papua New Guinea, quinoa in Bolivia, and chili peppers in Mexico.

For more information, please contact:

Luis Salazar, Crop Trust, luis.salazar@croptrust.org, +49 171 185 9490

Max Smith, OSGF, max@osgf.org, +1 540 592 7068

Emily Payne, Food Tank, emily@foodtank.com, or
Bernard Pollack, Food Tank, bernard@foodtank.com, +1 312-843-8612

The Crop Trust #CropsInColor campaign is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience with additional funding provided by Oak Spring Garden Foundation. Media partner Food Tank

Additional information:

The Crop Trust is an international organisation working to support crop conservation in genebanks, forever. Through investment income generated by its endowment fund, it provides financial support to international, regional and national genebanks, and the world’s backup facility, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Crop Trust’s global patron is His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. www.croptrust.org

The Oak Spring Garden Foundation is dedicated to sharing the gifts and ideas of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. Its mission is to support and inspire fresh thinking and bold action on the history and future of plants, including the art and culture of plants, gardens and landscapes. www.osgf.org

Food Tank is for farmers and producers, policy makers and government leaders, researchers and scientists, academics and journalists, and the funding and donor communities to collaborate on providing sustainable solutions for the most pressing environmental and social problems. www.foodtank.com

Corteva Agriscience™ is the only major agriscience company completely dedicated to agriculture. By combining the strengths of DuPont Pioneer, DuPont Crop Protection and Dow AgroSciences, Corteva has harnessed agriculture’s brightest minds and expertise gained over two centuries of scientific achievement. www.corteva.com

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