A guest at our campground gifted us with these beautiful Thai Peppers this weekend! He also brought us some seeds to grow. These are peppers that he has been growing in his own garden for years and we sincerely appreciate the gift!
It is not common knowledge that certain varieties of fruits and vegetables have been lost over generations. The seeds that we buy at the store today have been homogenized to the point that almost every plant we grow in the US is the same, at least when you compare it to the many varieties that existed hundreds of years ago.
When immigrants came to the United States they brought different seeds with them for the crops that they grew. Immigrants still do this today if they can sneak them in. Sometimes they bring the seeds for a fruit/vegetable that is completely unique. A variety of plant that is part of their family legacy that no other farmer has grown.
One example of this the Hmong Pepper. It doesn’t have a proper name that I’m aware of but it is a pepper that you can’t find in stores and you can’t buy the seeds online.
The Hmong people are an ethnic group from Asia that have been persecuted for many generations. There is a history of genocide and forced migration that is tragic and goes back hundreds of years. However, you might be lucky enough to know someone who has family or who themselves have saved the seeds to what might now be considered part of their cultural heritage in the hot pepper that can only be found in back yards and window gardens. It’s similar to a Thai Pepper in appearance, but smaller. The flavor is different and so is the hotness of the pepper.
I bring up this information just because there are also farmers in the United States, who are descendants of immigrants from all parts of the world who may be the last growers of a specific variety or plant. Unknowingly, they may be the cultivator of a variety of pepper or tomato, squash or herb that is the last on this continent or any continent.
For that reason I encourage people to share the seeds of their small, backyard gardens. Who knows how special it might be? Maybe it’s just the seeds of a plant. But, maybe that plant has it’s own tragic history of survival and is the last of it’s kind.