Slow Food 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.
MOP Presidium Coordinator