Heritage Foods Now To Be Grown at Buckingham Palace Grounds.

Dear kitchen garden friends,

As one of your fans in the UK, and a council member of garden organic, I thought you’d like to know about this ‘Royal answer to the White House kitchen garden’ on this side of the pond:



Charityıs mission to get the nation growing reaches Buckingham Palace

Garden Organic, which has been campaigning for back-garden food growing since 1958, has donated seeds to kick-start the new vegetable allotment in the Buckingham Palace garden.

For the first time since the Second World War, Buckingham Palace will grow beans, lettuce and tomatoes from seeds donated by Garden Organic on a new allotment plot in its gardens. Garden Organicıs Chief Executive, Myles Bremner, said, ³We are thrilled that the Palace not only has its own allotment, but that it is also brimming with vegetables grown from rare seeds donated by Garden Organic.²

It is so important for our food security, for the environment and for our health, to get more of the population growing seasonal, local, organic produce, in their gardens. To see the Palace reflecting this message is so inspiring and great news for the grow your own movement.²

The fact that this is the first time that food has been grown at the Palace since the Second World War will undoubtedly bring about the Œdig for victoryı analogies, but those challenges for self sufficiency and a need to re-skill a generation in how to feed itself resonate even now. What is important is to put people back in touch with food and how to grow, and hopefully the Palace allotment will be a driver for getting more people to achieve this.²

The Palace has been donated seeds of six endangered, historic vegetables from Garden Organicıs Heritage Seed Library - a collection of over 800 rare vegetable varieties ­ including, tomato White Queen, Queen of Hearts and Golden Queen, lettuce Northern Queen, climbing French bean Blue Queen and dwarf French bean Royal Red, all of which will appear on the allotment.

Deputy Gardens Manager at the Palace, Claire Midgley said, “We’re really pleased to be growing a range of Heritage Seed Library varieties on the new Buckingham Palace allotment. By growing them on this site we’re not only helping to keep old varieties alive, but we’re also preserving heritage and history.²

About the heritage varieties growing on the Palace allotment, Garden Organicıs, Myles Bremner, said, ³Many of the old varieties conserved in our collection have unusual tastes, colours and flavours and it would be sad to lose these from our gardens and ultimately from our dinner plates. Itıs good to know that in this corner of the Buckingham Palace grounds The Queen is not just growing her own, but also helping protect the diversity of our plant heritage.²

Garden Organic has been instrumental in getting more of the nation growing its own food. In 2008 the organisation celebrated 50 years at the forefront of organic growing, this year it welcomed its 5000th school onto its free education programme, trained it 600th Master Composter volunteer in the art of home composting, and enjoyed its biggest Œgrow your ownı event ever when over 2000 people flocked to its Potato Day. As well as helping Greenpeace set up an allotment on the proposed third runway site, the organisation has also led the call for Veg Doctors to support the increasing grow your own movement, as well as compiling the Top Ten Easiest to Grow Veg for this yearıs mass mobilisation ŒEat Seasonablyı campaign, fronted by B&Q and the National Trust.

The stories behind the varieties donated to the Palace allotment:

Climbing French Bean Blue Queen

Our donor was given this bean in 1950 by a gardener from Quenington House, who said he should look after them as you could no longer purchase them. They were identified in 1994 by Ron Bateman, a DJ on Radio Oxford, as ŒBlue Queenı. The seed produces purple, stringless pods, 15–20cm in length, which turn green when, cooked. Have a lovely, sweet flavour when eaten young.

Lettuce Northern Queen

The donor found these seeds amongst her father’s gardening clutter. Further investigation revealed the variety was originally sold by Finney’s, a Northumberland firm with nurseries in Newcastle. Finneyıs closed in the 1950s, at which time Northern Queen was the main outdoor variety, popular with both amateur and commercial growers. A large butterhead variety with soft, mild flavoured leaves.

Tomato Golden Queen

Bred by the Livingston Seed Company, Columbus, Ohio, in 1882, this yellow tomato has a distinct pink blush at the blossom end.

Tomato Queen of Hearts

Our donor acquired these seeds from an elderly lady who had been given them many years ago at a seminar. The person delivering the talk was American, and it was assumed that the variety was of American origin.

Tomato White Queen

Gives a good yield, and not bland like many other white varieties

Royal Red Dwarf French Bean

This variety was bred at Prosser, Washington State USA for the USDA. It was developed for its multiple disease resistance. Its popularity was limited as it produced seeds too plump and too large for the canning industry. However it produces strong and prolific plants with a rich, beany flavour “very tasty eating”.

For information on growing your own, organic techniques, beautiful gardens to visit and the charityıs Heritage Seed Library visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk

For more information contact Charlotte Corner on 02476 217707 or 07967 823001 or email at: ccorner@gardenorganic.org.uk

Notes to editors

  • Garden Organic is the UKıs leading organic growing charity dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food and has been at the forefront of the organic horticulture movement for 50 years.

  • The charity, which has over 40,000 supporters, reaches more than three million beneficiaries across the world and is based at Garden Organic Ryton in Warwickshire.

  • The organisation runs major research and international development programmes that help growers across the UK and overseas adopt organic methods.

  • Over 15% of all schools in the UK have now joined Garden Organicıs educational programme, Garden Organic for Schools, which helps pupils learn about food and organic growing.

  • Garden Organic actively campaigns on issues vital to both people and the environment, including health, sustainability and climate change.

  • Over 600 Master Composter volunteers from around the UK have now been trained to spread the home composting message through Garden Organicıs sustainable waste programme.

  • Garden Organic also manages demonstration gardens at Garden Organic Ryton in Warwickshire, and Garden Organicıs walled kitchen garden at Audley End, Essex in association with English Heritage.

  • Garden Organic Ryton boasts an award-winning restaurant and the worldıs first public biodynamic garden. The site is also home to the charityıs renowned Heritage Seed Library, which preserves over 800 varieties of threatened vegetables.

  • Garden Organic members enjoy a quarterly magazine, members only web pages and information sheets. Members also have access to the charityıs dedicated team of advisors who answer more than 5,000 organic gardening queries every year.

  • In addition, members gain unlimited free admission to the charityıs demonstration gardens together with the RHS gardens at Wisley, Harlow Carr, Rosemoor and Hyde Hall, plus over 20 other gardens across the UK.

·To find out more visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk

An open letter to the Milwaukee County Board

In an op ed published last Sunday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel I wrote that whether or not to locate the UWM College of Engineering and Applied Science on the county grounds was the wrong debate. The right debate should have been how to use the precious amount of open land we have left in Milwaukee County. At the board meeting yesterday I realized that this issue is broader and more critical than I had thought.

During the approximately two hours of debate over whether to sell 89 acres of the county grounds there was much talk about UWM and the quality of the development that would result from this sale, but only once did I hear the larger question addressed. Although the rest of the debate was not without merit, Supervisor Weishan cut to the bone when he observed that this question was not about economic development, not about UWM, not even about the county grounds: it was about balancing the budget. Because the board has found itself in a financial pinch, once again it has decided that selling off irreplaceable county land is the best way to balance the budget. If the emails I received after my op ed appeared are an indication, we are rushing into a proposal that most of the public opposes and about which even the UWM community is deeply divided–simply because the county grounds was “the easiest thing to sell.”

In fairness, the county board certainly listened to the environmental community and went to great lengths to add language that restricts the proposed development in a number of ways as well as proposes protections for the monarch migration habitats. I appreciate the time and effort that went into these deliberations and I do not doubt the sincerity of the board’s intentions. Unfortunately the urgency of closing this sale seems to have won out over making certain the language is enforceable. William Domina, the corporation counsel, made it clear that the proposed language was ambiguous and could be interpreted in different ways. I thank Supervisor Weishan for the request that this decision be delayed until the language was clarified and strengthened. As you know, that request was rejected on a 15–4 vote.

Since the vote on this sale is now history, we must work together to ensure that the board’s good intentions become reality and that development at the county grounds meets the high standards intended. This includes:

  • Low density development. The resolution stipulates that buildings may not exceed 30% of the land area. Verbal testimony supports minimizing surface parking as well.
  • Mixed use construction. There should be no stand-alone commercial buildings, such as restaurants, big box stores, or gas stations.
  • High quality “green” building. Although not explicit in the resolution, the board expressed its expectation that UWM would willingly comply with the board’s intentions, be the best possible partner, and use state-of-the-art sustainable construction.
  • Monarch habitat protection. The sale of the land is contingent upon the creation of a landscaping plan in consultation with UWM, Milwaukee County Parks, Milwaukee Public Museum, and Friends of the Monarch Trail. The resolution unwisely suggests that the existing habitat may be replaced, which is impossible ecologically. It also specifies improving and enhancing the habitat, which can’t be done through replacement.

Because of the low density requirement, the overall footprint of development is also still in play. The size and location of buildings, roads, parking, and storm water retention within the development zone will impact the character of the landscape significantly. The board and UWM seem to agree that this project should be environmentally exemplary. Who would disagree with that?

However, a disturbing policy lies at the heart of this deal: When there is a fiscal crisis the county sells land assets to meet annual operating expenses. In recommending a yes vote on this sale, one supervisor exclaimed “we must sell assets; what better place to sell than a development zone?” Never mind that this development zone, a compromise hammered out ten years ago in equally contentious debates in order to meet similar county budget shortfall, was established at 66 acres and not 89 acres. The more important issue is the policy of land sales to balance a budget. It is not a new policy; it predates the current county board members. We simply must do better!

I do not envy the county board their responsibility for this budgetary dilemma. I have no doubt that this takes an enormous amount of their time and involves painful decisions. But we cannot continue to sell off our children’s inheritance to pay for our current needs. Milwaukee has a park system that most cities can only dream about, one that has been nominated for a national award despite years of declining budgets. The county grounds may yet prove to be a jewel in the crown of this park system and a vital part of our community’s urban wilderness. We must not squander this treasure. Let’s create the exemplary development scheme that will accomplish this, one that will continue to provide unparalleled opportunities for county residents to enjoy nature in the years to come.

Eddee Daniel
2013 Ludington Ave.
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 771–8857
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Last edited by Commonwealth Citizen. Based on work by Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on June 14, 2009

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