A recent National Geographic article, “,” highlights an important issue that Cornell Garden-Based Learning’s (VVfG) citizen science project is working to ameliorate – the rapid rate at which heirloom vegetable varieties are disappearing, and the overall reduction in commercially available variety diversity.
The article cites a 1983 study by the Rural Advancement Foundation International, which “compared USDA listings of seed varieties sold by commercial U.S. seed houses in 1903 with those in the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983.” The study had striking results: 93 percent of the varieties had gone extinct.
The National Geographic article concludes, “More up-to-date studies are needed,” and this is one of the ways in which VVfG and the youth-focused Vegetable varieties investigations (Vvi)are contributing. VVfG provides an avenue for its over 5,000 registered users to connect and share their successes and failures growing myriad hybrid, open pollinated, and heirloom varieties.
With a searchable online library of over 6,000 vegetable varieties connected to seed sources, VVfG makes it easier for gardeners to find unusual vegetables to try in their home, school, and community gardens. Indeed, growing heirloom varieties and creating a demand for the wide selection of vegetable varieties available is one of the most effective ways to maximize genetic diversity for
By Ari Rockland-Miller
Cornell Garden-Based Learning