A Taste of the Caribbean in Your Own Backyard: Grow Haiti


This was a delightful article to read, now that I am slowly leaving the cabin-fever and computer-screen-burn of winter and eager to get some work done in the garden. Keep in mind that the article targets readers in the northwest. In other words, I don’t think I’ll be able to grow pigeon peas or amaranth any time soon. Of particular interest to me was the Grow Haiti project, from which a portion of the sales benefit the Lambi Fund of Haiti, a nonprofit that supports reforestation and self-sufficiency in Haiti.

Spring planting season is coming early this year for a lot of home gardeners. And this year some Pacific Northwest nurseries are getting familiar with the flavors of the Caribbean.

Log House Plants, a wholesale nursery outside Cottage Grove, Oregon, is beginning this week to distribute 22 varieties of Caribbean plant starts to independent garden centers around the Northwest. The collection includes sorghum, Scotch Bonnet peppers, callaloo (aka amaranth), several hibiscus species, pigeon peas and peanuts. “I am amazed that they would be able to grow peanuts here,” said Aruna Anderson. She runs Caribbean Spice, an international grocery in Northeast Portland. Many of the same foods can be found on her shelves in cans and packages. Just about all were imported from warmer countries. [. . .]

The wholesale grower, Log House Plants, organized field trials in Oregon and Washington last year to see which of more than 40 “culturally important” Caribbean plants could flourish here. The creator of the Grow Haiti project at Log House, Myrtle Von Damitz, says she selected the ones that grew the best to go to retail. [. . .] She said it is not unreasonable to believe Caribbean plants could grow to maturity in our northern clime with proper early season TLC. “People grow tomatoes here, and those are southern plants,” Von Damitz said.

Other plants in the Grow Haiti collection include okra, Southern pea (cowpea), Caribbean pumpkin and an heirloom tomato from Haiti.

Before taking her job at Log House Plants, Von Damitz lived in New Orleans where she developed a fondness for Caribbean plants and ingredients. A portion of the sales of this plant collection will benefit the Lambi Fund of Haiti, a nonprofit that supports reforestation and self-sufficiency in Haiti.

[A “Meet and Greet” and kick-off of the plant collection took place on April 26 at Portland Nursery, in Portland. Oregon. A similar event is planned for early June at Sky Nursery in Shoreline, Washington.]

For more information, see http://nwnewsnetwork.org/post/taste-caribbean-your-own-backyard

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