Committed To Saving Seeds: An Interview With Dirt to Dinner

One of my favorite gardens to visit is From Dirt to Dinner located in San Jose California. The garden's curator, Julianne Idleman will be sure to show us all how to take the lawn out of the yard and grow food in its stead.

Growing both in front and back of her home and everywhere in between, you find a vast array of raised beds and containers. In them, you shall find everything growing from potatoes to tomatoes. All intended to put food both in the kitchen pantry and straight to the dinner table.

Julianne began her story by telling us, “I am an accidental gardener trying to escape a bad reaction to many processed foods. My doctor believes they are sensitivity to the virus or bacteria used to transfer genes into GMO's.”

For those of you not familiar with a GMO, they are genetically modified organisms that are genes spliced into the seeds of crops, engineered primarily to make the crops resistant to poisonous weed killers, namely Round-Up.

She continues by telling us that her garden began with three square feet of peas, “each planted one month apart as a homeschooling experiment with my daughter in 2008/09. Now I am an avid urban gardener, committed seed saver and curator of three heirloom landraces: a fava bean, a strain of basil and “Mr. Tung's” pole green bean, which I grow for a Canadian seed bank.”

Julianne's favorite “Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans”

I must share the fact that we here at home really had no clue about the beauty and diversity of so many different types of beans until we met Julianne. Being one of her specialties, “runner beans” I found myself both floored and flabbergasted when I received a sampling of seeds from her to grow in our own gardens. The seeds were the most gorgeous beans I had ever laid my eyes upon!

You can hear the excitement in Julianne's voice as she tells us about them. “Most of my seed stock comes from Phipps Country Store and Farm in Pescadero California and several of the beans I grow were developed from other heirloom varieties at Phipps.”

I had to take a peek through Phipps website and I quickly discovered that they had a whole room at their farm store dedicated to bean seeds. Now that is a whole lot of different varieties of beans to say the least!

Julianne tells us, “This year I will be adding the Italian Runner Cannellini beans and the French version of the large white runner bean, originally grown in Tarbais France. These seeds are coming from culinary sources because I want to taste test them before I devote a lot of garden space to them. I also got the Ayocote Marado Purple Runner Bean and I can't wait to see how they do!”

Runner Beans Drying on Vine for Harvesting

Because of growers like Julianne Idleman, that are committed to saving rare and exotic heirloom seeds, we can find ourselves in a position to join in on the adventure. Saving seeds from our own gardens to be passed down to future generations might become the passion for every gardener in the race to save and preserve the diversity of seeds that stand to be lost in a world turning towards commercial agriculture.

To learn more about From Dirt to Dinner with Julianne Idleman be sure to visit her website as well as staying current on the many issues facing our current food systems on her very informative Facebook Page.

Pamela Kimsey
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2 thoughts on “Committed To Saving Seeds: An Interview With Dirt to Dinner

  1. Thank heaven for gardeners like Julianne (and you) who are so committed to saving the precious heirloom seeds that everyone deserves to have to eat! Awesome article Pammy!

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