Makah Ozette Potato Presidium

What is a Presidia?
The Presidia program is coordinated by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity,
which organizes and funds projects that defend our world’s heritage of agricultural biodiversity and gastronomic traditions.

Loosely translated into “garrison,” Slow Food Presidia (Presidium, singular) are local projects that work to improve the infrastructure of artisan food production. The goals of the Presidia are to guarantee a viable future for traditional foods by stabilizing production techniques, establishing stringent production standards, and promoting local consumption. 

If unique, traditional and endangered food products can have an economic impact, they can be saved from extinction. This is the simple reasoning behind the Presidia—small, targeted projects to assist groups of artisan producers.

Makah Ozette Potato
Despite a crop failure in Spring 2007, the Makah Ozette potato supply grew through continued development of a local seed source, with several small farms planting a limited supply, and Pure Potato beginning work to certify the Makah Ozette as virus free. Meanwhile, demand continued to grow through Slow Food Seattle’s continued regional publicity efforts, including it as a menu item at the American Heritage Picnic in Seattle (organized by Slow Food Seattle and the Seattle Chefs Collaborative chapter).

This unique potato became an official presidia project in 2008. Because of all the presidium’s promotional efforts, the Makah Ozette potato seed is now in high demand, and the presidium remains focused on increasing seed production to bring more seed to market.


Update on the Makah Ozette Potato Presidium, October 2010

Our Presidium has been in operation for almost four years (for background, see here). The objective of having  an abundant regional seed source was realized last year by our partner, Pure Potato.

We had finally reached the long awaited three years it takes to develop the available genetic material into a field of virus free seed potato. There was an abundance of seed available for the 2010 planting throughout the region and seed was even sold to a large potato grower in California.  Pure Potato sold all of its seed this spring and most of the 7 regional nurseries who stocked the seed sold out to home gardeners by mid spring.

A highlight of 2009 was Essential Baking Company‘s (EBC) adopting the potato, contracting with Full Circle Farm and making their seasonal potato bread using the Makah Ozette Potato (MOP). The management of EBC declared this to be the most flavorful potato bread they had ever produced. They are committed to continuing to use the MOP when it is available in the future.

2010 has been a disaster year for the MOP. Flooding destroyed the entire crop of seed at Pure Potato. This is a severe setback for the Presidium as it will take another three years to regenerate the seed stock to the 2009 levels. Pure Potato having experience the success with this potato is committed to carrying on with its development. Full Circle Farm has also experienced a significant loss of crop due to flooding and will not be able to supply EBC this fall for its potato bread. Unless MOP can be sourced from California this year, we may be eating plain potato bread this fall.

If you have grown MOP this year, you can try to save some seed from your harvest. Keep them in a mesh bag in your refrigerator till spring.

7 thoughts on “Makah Ozette Potato Presidium

    • I’m sorry for the delay in responding, but I am sure you noticed by now that the PDF has been loaded to this page for you to download. Please read again and follow that link. Thanks and happy holiday!

  1. What is the latest goings on here? I see only book meetings and a couple other events over the next several months. No recent postings either. Is that all there is to Slow Food Seattle? I was expecting more events, talks, cooking demos, and more information in general. I’m not being critical it’s just not what I expected and so I’m wondering why I would join as a member?

    • Hi Nance! If you are on Facebook, you might find some more recent general posts and interaction there in addition to those on our blog from February. As an all-volunteer organization locally, we sometimes are not able to keep up the blog as often as we would like, but it is certainly a goal for us this year!

      Your membership will support national efforts like the Ark of Taste, school gardens, and Slow Food’s advocacy. You will also receive the new twice-yearly Slow Food magazine with your membership in the national organization.

      Locally, our upcoming tuna canning event and planned summer farm tour are at least two offerings that will only available to members. We are trying to schedule more members-only events locally to help provide value for members. We do hope to schedule more events as we add members to the board to assist in the planning. We are deep in the middle of the tuna planning right now, but expect to see more as we get through that event.

      If you would like to get involved before you become a member, the book clubs are free and open to the public. Come meet some of us and we’d love to chat more live about other ideas! Thanks!

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