Monday, August 6, 2012

Crops from Chiang Mai Off to a Great Start in Fort Myers

Tim, Andy and Marcie with the white thorn rattan seedlings
ECHO, International is located at the ECHO Global Farm in Ft. Myers, Florida. This 50-acre farm demonstrates practical ideas for growing food under difficult conditions in tropical climates to over 14,000 guests each year.  Many of the visitors are agricultural and community development workers serving the poor worldwide.

Vegetable taro seedlings
Hundreds of different crops are grown at ECHO's Global Farm, including tropical fruit trees, grains, oil crops and vegetables; many of which are underutilized and/or challenging to locate.

In May, ECHO intern, Kimberly Duncan, and I prepared a shipment of unique Asian crops for the Global Farm.  A box full of propagatable plant materials (cuttings and bulbs) of vegetable fern (Diplazium esculentum), vegetable taro (Colocasia esculenta), snowflake tree (Trevesia palmata) and leaf pepper (Piper sarmentosum) as well as seeds of Job's tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) was sent from Chiang Mai to Ft. Myers via express mail.  Of course, the plant materials were inspected and certified by phytosanitary officials both in Chiang Mai and Miami.
Ellen with vegetable fern, snowflake tree and leaf pepper seedlings
Visiting the Global Farm in July and anxious to see how the recently arrived plants were faring, I was delighted to find that each crop had not only survived the trip, but had been expertly "stuck" and/or planted by the Global Farm staff.  Healthy white thorn rattan seedlings (Calamus viminalis) growing from seed that we sent from Chiang Mai two year ago were also growing in the nursery.

Hopefully, these crops will continue to thrive at the Global Farm, serving not only as teaching tools but sources of nutrition there as well.
Job's tears seedlings ready to be transplanted into one of the field plots

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