Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 12:19:34 AM

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Heirloom Seeds Add to Crop Diversity

(Source: Jason Weinstein)

Looking to add diversity to his garden, Ed Nizalowski planted these Romanian Pole Beans and German Ribbon Beans a few years ago - and have done nothing but grow since.

"So next year I had 12-foot poles, they did the same thing. So this year I decided I was going to give them a real challenge. These are like 25-30 feet tall," said Nizalowski of Newark Valley.

The beans are heirloom crops, not from modern hybrid seeds. Heirloom seeds are passed down generations.

"Heirlooms in particular represent a history of humankind," said Lisa Bloodnick, Co-Owner of Bloodnick Family Farm in Apalachin.
Heirlooms can also be colorful in more ways than one.

"I grow some great types. One is called drunken woman which is a red, frizzy lettuce. I'd love to see who that was named after," said Bloodnick.

Bloodnick and Nizalowski say heirlooms are critical to adding diversity to crops and protection to the food supply

"The number of varieties that are grown commercially has really fallen off really to kind of a dangerous level since the Second World War," said Nizalowski.

"It's important to maintain a diverse population, especially in terms of disease resistance, climate change. Once you have a larger gene pool you have a better chance of maintaining a viable population," said Bloodnick.

For example, Bloodnick says our corn supply comes from only four germ lines.

"Four germ lines is like nothing. It might represent many, many varieties but genetically it is so similar that you're only one step away from disaster," said Bloodnick.


****In Broome County, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****

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