Our Makah Ozette Potato Presidium Goes National in School Gardens

Slow Fooark-prod-ozette_potatoesd Seattle maintains one of the six Presidia ever established in the USA. For the past eight years our Makah Ozette Potato Presidia (MOP)  has been working to bring this unique product to the table. They are now consistently found in northwest farmers and specialty food markets in season.

The history of MOP: it arrived in Neah Bay directly from South America with the Spaniards in 1791. It was found by the Makah people the next year when the Spaniards abandoned their fort and left remnants of MOP. It was then grown and consumed by the Makah for nearly 200 years before being recognized in about 1980. Slow Food recognized it in early 2000 by putting it on the Ark of Taste and later made it a Presidium. (a community partnership that brings special products to the table).

This story has been blended into the Slow Food School Garden Initiative making the MOP an ideal product that grabs children’s attention, adding unique depth to their gardening experience. Our board member Philip Lee introduced the MOP to school garden advocates two years ago and it became a big hit. Now there are about twelve schools in the greater Seattle area with MOP in their gardens and its history in –  or coming to – their curricula.

This year, based on the enthusiasm generated by Philip’s efforts, Gerry Warren, the Presidium coordinator, contacted Andrew Nowak, the director of SFUSA’s national School Garden program in Denver, to connect him with Pure Potato, our seed growing partner in the Presidium. Andrew and his crew have sent MOP seed and literature to more than 60 school garden programs around the nation. This program will undoubtedly grow and perhaps even foster discussion and interest in MOP at the students’ family tables. This approach will certainly help with the Presidium objective of getting MOPs enjoyed at more tables.

Gerry Warren
MOP Presidium Coordinator

Nominee for Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste: The Sugar Hubbard Squash

Slow Food’s Ark of Taste aims to rediscover, describe and publicize forgotten flavors around the world. Through the Ark of Taste program, Slow Food USA has a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. Since 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been added to the international Ark of Taste. By promoting and eating Ark products we help ensure that they remain in production and on our plates.

The mission of the Slow Food Ark of Taste is to preserve traditional tastes and to celebrate them, by introducing them to the Slow Food membership and then to the world. All of the foods on the Ark of Taste are heritage products that have real economic viability and commercial potential for the communities that grow, produce or harvest them.

Since it’s inception, Slow Food Seattle has successfully boarded four regional food products onto the Slow Food Ark of Taste including Olympia Oyster, Marbled Chinook Salmon, Geoduck, and Makah Ozette Potato (our only Presidium product). Slow Food Seattle’s latest Ark of Taste nomination is the Sugar Hubbard, a sweet heirloom winter squash with a unique Puget Sound heritage. Former Slow Food Seattle Co-Chair, and Puget Sound Food Network Project Manager, Lucy Norris, recently wrote about this important heirloom in the winter 2010 issue of Edible Seattle.

Read the full story in Edible Seattle, or download a PDF version.

Sugar Hubbard Squash

The Sugar Hubbard Squash, grown at Sherman's Pioneer Farm Produce in central Whidbey Island, is Slow Food Seattle's latest nomination for the Ark of Taste.

Sherman’s Pioneer Farm Produce in central Whidbey Island grows the only commercial crop of Sugar Hubbard in the country. It is the result of combining traditional blue Hubbard and Sweetmeat squash, inheriting the best flavor and texture characteristics of both. The Sugar Hubbard is a nutrient dense, starchy squash (with a high glycemic index), but also very high in vitamin A, exceeding USDA requirements for Beta Carotene. Most winter squash varieties are interchangeable in recipes, and the Sugar Hubbard is nutty-sweet and the colored deep orange like a marigold. Try it in a favorite recipe that calls for winter squash, and you’ll be impressed.

The Sugar Hubbard has an excellent flavor, and it’s uniquely local to Puget Sound, with a strong family heritage. It has every asset required for boarding onto Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. Slow Food Seattle’s interest in boarding this product on the Ark of Taste will send a signal to conscientious consumers and help boost market demand in our area. Voting with your fork helps food producers like the Sherman’s remain profitable in the business of farming in our region. Only the best tasting endangered foods make it onto the Ark, and we think the Sugar Hubbard is a great fit.

Find the Squash
Peeled squash cubes are available at all Whole Foods locations in Oregon and Washington as long as the supply holds out. Liz and Dale continue to look for additional retailers for their squash. Sherman’s Pioneer Farm Produce is located at 46 South Ebey Road, Coupeville, WA. Contact Liz or Dale Sherman at 360.678.4675.

Looking for recipes?
Spice Loaf – by Editor, Edible Seattle
Chili Stew – by Lucy Norris, adapted from an original recipe by Liz Sherman

Excerpts with permission from Edible Seattle.

Dale Sherman in his field of Sugar Hubbard Squash

Dale Sherman in his field of Sugar Hubbard squash. Photo: Lara Ferroni

Lucy Norris is Project Manager for Puget Sound Food Network, a project of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, former co-chair of Slow Food Seattle, and author of Pickled: Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions.