Germany: Syke Grower breeds rare vegetables

Grower Marko Seibold in the German town of Syke has made it his hobby to breed rare vegetables. “In the greenhouse I used to work in, I came across a Chinese cabbage once. The leafs were so pretty and the blossom so tasty that I figured it would be a shame to throw them out. It occurred to me that there must be many other remarkable things you can eat, which brought me to breeding things like red-white sorrel, colourful carrots and beets.”

Seibold says it’s the ‘inner value’ of vegetables that matters: “The old varieties still contain nutrients lost to the new ones. A lot of minerals are gone.” The breeder has some 150 species growing on his lot. Most of them require delicate, manual care. But to Seibold, it’s a living. Top chefs all over the country are aware of him and he ships his produce by mail.

The produce is sent by mail

The seeds he gets abroad. Mainly from France and Italy, places more involved in sustaining special plant varieties. Currently Seibold cultivates about 3 acres, but he finds it difficult to procure more land. “If one of my neighbours would be willing to sell, I would seize the opportunity.”

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