James Beard Award-winner Chris Smith and Tessa Lowinske Desmond discuss okra as a model crop for a new, more resilient approach to agriculture in a changing climate.
Smith’s book, “The Whole Okra,” is a lighthearted, information-rich collection of okra history, lore, recipes, craft projects, growing advice and more. Foremost, it’s a foodie’s book but Smith also provides practical tips and techniques for home and market gardeners. Smith has grown over 75 varieties of okra, and he describes the nuanced differences in flavor, texture, and color. He also gives directions for seed saving, for a plant breeding project, and what to do with a stockpile of okra seed that can be used to make okra oil, okra flour, okra tempeh, and more.
As executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, Smith is at the vanguard of public plant breeding for climate resilience in a warmer, less certain agricultural landscape. In addition to okra, Smith has farming expertise in collards, taro, and other tropical and sub-tropical crops which he is adapting for Western North Carolina. The Utopian Seed Project is a food and farm-focused non-profit that advocates for seeds and the diversity they represent. In addition to his work with Utopian, Smith collaborates on The Heirloom Collard Project, hosts a seasonal Trial to Table event series in Asheville, and publishes Crop Stories, a crop-specific multimedia project. In addition to his work on the “The Whole Okra” book, Smith co-hosts “The Okra Pod Cast.” In 2023, he was awarded the Organic Growers’ School’s Organic Educator Award. Visit utopianseed.org for more information about his work and blueandyellowmakes.com for his blog.
Presented in partnership with Princeton Public Library, The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, and Land, Language and Art, a Global Initiative from the Princeton University Humanities Council.
Part of the Mayors Wellness Campaign.
For more information visit https://seedfarm.princeton.edu/index.php/events/okra/ or https://princetonlibrary.libnet.info/event/8294664
Date: June 1, 2023
Location: Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ