Seed line reflects African American heritage

    The Fish Pepper was used by black chefs in Baltimore oyster houses to spice up a white sauce. A white Cushaw pumpkin was once a staple squash in the American south.

    As the dark days of winter settle in, many gardeners are combing through seed catalogs to get ready for spring. New gardeners may be overwhelmed by the choices. A Pennsylvania seed company wants people to cultivate their own heritage. A new line of African-American heritage seeds is hitting the market.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091214pgseeds.mp3]

    The Fish Pepper was used by black chefs in Baltimore oyster houses to spice up a white sauce. A white Cushaw pumpkin was once a staple squash in the American south. These and dozens more vegetable varieties that are part of the African-America culinary tradition are being marketed by the Landreth Seed Company.

    Barbara Plantholt Melera co-owns the company. She says she goes to every flower and gardening show in the Eastern United States and has noticed most African-Americans know little about the foods their forebears grew.

    We have strong interest from the Italians, Portuguese, the Spanish, but I don’t see a strong interest from African-American culture in the seeds. They have such a rich heritage – it seemed we needed to call attention to their rich heritage.

    This year the annual Landreth seed catalog is a commemorative issue for the 225th anniversary of the company, featuring articles and graphics from its 19th century issues.

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