A “Garden of Earthly Delights”!
You might remember this tag line from Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo from the 1970s (it smelled wonderful!) but it could also easily describe the Heritage Garden at Steam Pump Ranch. Joyce Rychener and her volunteer team have been hard at work urging the spring crops to peak above the soil.
The Heritage Garden is part of the Native Seed/SEARCH grow out crop program. As such the Heritage Garden grows out heirloom seeds that might otherwise be lost or cross pollinated (destroying their generational purity). The San Ildefonso Fava Bean is one such plant that has not been “grown out” since 2005. With lots of coaxing and care, Joyce hopes to see it successfully propagate. If the weather cooperates, corn, gourds and chiltipins will be sowed next.
So, what happens to the crops once they are mature? Here is Joyce’s response:
“In the past the produce from the Native crops were used for educational and demonstration purposes, e.g., ancient corn for display and corn grinding activities for children, harvesting and eating, tortilla making demonstrations, corn husk craft projects and botanical art lessons. For three years, the chapalote corn was used for science, experiments conducted by Jenny Adams on ancient corn and the Las Capas project. Many ears of corn were distributed to the public during Second Saturday for educational purposes as visitors wanted to grow or display the unusual ears. A third of the harvest was kept for seed saving, which I replanted every year. Also, the round tailed ground squirrels and other animals ate their share.”