Kickstarter has launched to fund the okra trial!

Jing Okra that has just shed its flower In Defense of Okra

Kickstarter has launched to fund the okra trial!

This Kickstarter will fund a large okra variety trial that will help catalog and preserve many okra varieties, create some stunning photographic opportunities and provide fuel for the final chapter of my upcoming okra book, In Defense of Okra. [Scheduled to be published by Chelsea Green Publishing, an employee owned independent publisher, in April 2019].

“In reality okra could have a future that will make people puzzle over why earlier generations failed to seize the opportunity before their eyes. In the Botanical Kingdom it may actually be a Cinderella, though still living on the hearth of neglect amid the ashes of scorn.”

Lost Crops of Africa, Vol II

Baby okra pod pushing up the stalk!

Why do I need money?

I am cataloging an ever growing list of okra varieties. Some of them, like the McIlhenny Okra (that was canned and pickled by the Tabasco Co. in the early 1900s) and White Lightning Okra (which won an All American Selections Award in 1939), I fear I shall never find, lost to the fragility of seed. Some of them are heirlooms from the early 1800s which have been saved within families or heralded by seed catalogs, some are more recent introductions to the world of okra. I have a collection of rare okra seeds from Seed Savers Exchange; I have some special varieties from the USDA Germaplasm repository with high oil content; I have some unknown okras from various seed swaps; I have Sow True Seed exclusives such as Kibblers Okra and Bradford Family Okra. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Bakers Creek have donated their okra collections to the trial. I have over 150 varieties on my list and am currently storing about 80 of those varieties in Sow True Seed‘s seed storage facility in Asheville NC.

The trial and its results will form the back bone of my final chapter, Seeds and Stories.

Chris Smith

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