Evan Gregoire of the Portland Seedhouse is a truly passionate farmer whose mission is to preserve and promote biodiversity, heirloom seeds and seed saving. Next Monday, September 12 he is hosting the 2nd Annual Portland Seedhouse Tasting at Renata in SE Portland. We asked Evan a few questions about the Seedhouse and the event. Details and a link to purchase tickets are below.
What is the Portland Seedhouse?
The Portland Seedhouse is the creation of avid seed collector Evan Gregoire who formed the Seedhouse in 2013 with the focus on heirloom varieties that are needed to create new varieties we need for valuable reasons today. Without the continued preservation of these older varieties, treasured genetic diversity would be lost forever.
The Portland Seedhouse mission is to ensure continued preservation of full flavored vegetables, focusing on saving resilient varieties and continuing to educate the local community about cooking organic open pollinated vegetables. As our region and climate are projected to change over the next several decades, it is vital that we expand our knowledge about our local food systems cultivating and saving seeds that have resilience. By cooperatively working with other farmers around the world, the Seedhouse trades seeds so that we can all trial which varieties do well in our localized region. To date, the Seedhouse has worked with over forty different seed savers and participates in seed swaps around the country.
What is the goal of the Seedhouse Tasting?
The Seedhouse needs feedback to obtain the best flavors for the hundreds of varieties that are trialed every year. By receiving feedback from seeders, feeders and eaters we can ensure superior tasting vegetables while building a demand for these specialty varieties. By attending the tasting, you can directly be involved in the cooperative by providing feedback on which varieties taste best fresh, cooked and preserved. While this year’s tasting will focus primarily on summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes the larger goal is to bring back these heritage varieties and re-introduce them to people’s palates and into their gardens. Feedback from the attendees at the tasting will guide the growing decisions of the Seedhouse and help give us a sense for what people may like to taste and see more of.
Can you tell us a little bit about the set up and what people can expect from going to the tasting?
Renata, restaurant of the year in Portland, has been very generous to host the tasting for the second year in a row. Last year, many Italian varieties were focused on through different tomato preparations and was only open to local chefs. This year we are are expanding the tasting to include some new and old favorites from the Seedhouse’s collection and it is open to the public. This was very important to us because the discussion of seed sovereignty and security needs to be an issue that is discussed on a larger scale. We all have a role to play and this is one delicious way to be a part of that discussion. Not only will people get to taste all the Italian varieties fresh this year, but they will get to sample some unique fruits and preparations from local food friends in the community.
Did you collect and grow all of the different vegetables yourself? If not, who else is involved?
Once again, all of the vegetables were grown by the Seedhouse on a few isolation plots in the Portland metro area. Other goodies that will be brought for tasting will be specialty fruit from One Green World, local olive oil from Red Ridge, bread from Grano, tomato cocktails juiced by Pure & Simple Juice and pasta from Pastaworks. It is an event not to be missed!
Is it possible for people to purchase seeds and grow some of the varieties they’re tasting?
Yes, select seeds will be available to purchase while others will be available next year through the seed catalog and online. We would be happy to add you to email list for any upcoming events and news related to the Portland Seedhouse. Our goal is to provide an open source collaborative network so seeds can be exchanged and grown out by other growers to maintain the genetic vigor year to year of these precious gems. Sharing is the key to biodiversity.
How else can people support the Portland Seedhouse?
Helping out can come in many different ways. You can grow seeds out or you can come taste and evaluate these flavors for your own pleasure or growing curiosity. You can always buy seeds online or attend special Seedhouse classes if you can’t make the tasting on Monday, September 12th. Look on the Seedhouse calendar page to see when events are happening and look forward to some exciting collaborations this next year that will allow the Seedhouse to grow in the Pacific Northwest community. Together we can bring these wonderful varieties back to the table. Thank you for being a part of the journey!
Attend the Portland Seedhouse Tasting
The Seedhouse Tasting will be held on Monday, September 12 at Renata in SE Portland. Come experience over 70 different vegetables ranging from Italian cucumber melons from Puglia to Northern hardneck garlic from Cuneo. This is the first time many of these varieties are being tasted fresh in the US! This is a 21 and over event. An Italian style Bloody Mary will be served with an opening greeting from Evan of the Seedhouse. Following is the tasting and rating of your favorites while meeting others mingling.
Tickets: $15 Donation to benefit the Seedhouse work
*or email Evan for sliding scale tickets. The goal is to make this accessible to everyone.