David started proceedings, giving an outline of how SRT has developed and where it is now and how it intends to continue, funding and royalties permitting. Simon followed with more detail on how new varieties (including "Crow") are selected, how seed is multiplied and how certified seed is sold. Alan Romans, our potato guru from Fife, told us about his interaction with SRT over the last decade and a bit and how these varieties are different from other commercial varieties in many ways and thus need understanding to get the best out of them. Alan has suggested that we should call our potential new variety "Crowdpleaser" which would have no sinister connotations. To round off the talks, James Stroud, a PhD student with Bangor University, Burpee Europe and SRT told us about his exciting results from his tomato breeding project that is aimed at producing late-blight resistant varieties for UK outdoor cultivation.
Precious little bags of seed potatoes, some containing seed of "Crow" were the "take away" prize for our backers who have space and time to try them out and most importantly to tell us how they fared in field/garden and kitchen.
Lunch was based on Sarpo potatoes, freshly harvested from the field near Llandudno. These had a remarkably fine skin finish and quality. This is a trick worth considering in mild areas where tubers survive all but the most penetrating frosts that occur in exceptionally cold winters. (Some of our growers routinely store their crop in the field and harvest a few rows when required for their market stall or box scheme throughout the winter until April of even May without deterioration or sprouting - three cheers for long dormancy). The menu included Axona and leek soup and Colcannon/Rumbledethumps/Bubble and Squeak made with Blue Danube.
|Student helpers harvesting Sarpos on Wednesday, Feb 27th. This was the first time since August that the soil was dry enough to get our small harvester working on this field.|
Afternoon, we discussed how the Crowd could best help SRT with development of Crow and how observations and measurements could help us build up a portfolio of each variety growing under a range of different conditions. Future funding of the Trust was part of this lively debate and included a straw poll that indicated that a pleasing number of our visitors would consider investing in our new commercial company being formed to scale-up seed production and sales of certified Sarpo seed. Plates of unadorned, steamed Sarpo varieties were passed around so that visitors could compare the taste of Axona, Sarpo Shona and Kifli.
It was pleasing to see our friends depart all smiles and eager to help us in their different ways. I will attempt to keep all of our Crowd (around 150 in total) informed and motivated to do their own research into Sarpo varieties. Watch this space for more information on how to stay plugged in.
|Crowdfunding visitors, ready to leave with their take-aways. Sadly, some had to leave after lunch. Thanks to John Walker for photo.|