Early Scarlet Horn Carrot
The Early Scarlet Horn carrot is a special seed, and not only for its very sweet flavor, or even just because of its unusually fat, rounded shape, and ability to grow to well over 8 inches. It’s the land it comes from and the people who have grown it, that make it the unique seed that we have today. It came to Slow Food by way of Minnesota grower, Zachary Paige, who has been working over the past few years with Canadian Indigenous seed savers, Caroline Chartrand and Tiffany Traverse. And today, Zachary is working to help share the seed and protect its unique heritage through boarding it on the Ark of Taste.
The Métis are an Indigenous group that lived in what is today Manitoba, around the Red River Valley where the Red and the Assiniboine rivers created a central hub for fur trading. They are the descendants of European men and Saulteaux women from the area, but they developed a distinct group identity with their own culture, language, and shared history.
Métis settlements grew throughout the 19th century around the fur trade on these rivers, but was eventually pushed out around the Canadian confederation and the increased industrialization of the fur industry. As their people were pushed from their land, much of their livelihood and their foodways disappeared, including many of the seeds that they would have planted.
Caroline, a Métis seed saver, comes from Winnipeg, which is not too far from the Red River Valley in central Canada where this seed originates from. She’s been working for over two decades now to revive and preserve the seeds that came from this valley, and were grown by the Métis people before their land was overtaken and their culture diminished.
While this little carrot seed is part of a much larger story, the history of the Métis people ingrained in it, at the end of the day it serves a much more tangible purpose: it is food. “With really good growing conditions,” says Zachary, “it gets huge. It’s not just a little stubby carrot that’s for novelty, it’s actually a good source of food.” It was food for the Métis, keeping them nourished on unbound, open land of what is today central Canada, and it feeds their descendants over a century later. Eating the Early Scarlet Horn is connecting to the land it’s grown in, the land that you grow it in, and letting that land nourish you.
Written by Malia Guyer-Stevens, Slow Food USA Editorial Intern
Interview with Zachary Paige, North Circle Seeds
Planting the Seed
Learn how to start seeds indoors with Slow Food USA School Garden committee chairs — in different ways and different places! The exact timing and practices for planting your seeds will depend on your growing zone and frost dates in your region. More information can be found in the Farmer’s Almanac Planting Calendar – just enter in your zip code to find helpful notes on starting your seeds and planting your starts!
For instructions on saving carrot seeds, check out these resources from North Circle Seeds.
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