Co-director at Experimental Farm Network, Elmer NJ
Co-director at Experimental Farm Network, seed & farming operations at Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance, board member with Philadelphia Orchard Project, Grassroots Seed Network, and Northeast Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ).
I’m excited for EFN to be distributing the ‘Ultracross’ collard seeds (from a composite cross of 21 varieties) and eager to see what sort of cool collards people breed from the population. Also excited about the likelihood of some temperate perennial collards coming out of Chris Homanics’ “perennial kale” population (many of which very much resemble collards). And curious to learn more about the development of collards and their history.
Why are collards special?
Collards are not an ancestral food of mine, but they are closely related to some of my ancestral foods (cabbage, including open-headed varieties), and collards can be used to great effect in the same recipes. As a seed lover, I’m impressed and fascinated by the diversity collected by the Heirloom Collard Project, which we know must. E a fraction of all the collards that have ever existed. As a farmer, I so appreciate collards for their hardiness, vigor, and immense productivity. They define abundance in the garden.
What’s Your Favorite Way To Eat Collards?
My absolute favorite collards are served by the Widjojo family at their South Philadelphia restaurant Hardena (incidentally, using collards as a stand-in for a traditional green not a available in this country). They always have collards and I always get them. They’re sliced into thin strips and cooked down with coconut milk and a bit of chili, maybe with just a few other not-so-obvious ingredients. It’s a very simple dish but absolutely delicious. Served over rice with optional hot-sauce (usually a kaffir lime-leaf heavy fermented spicy explosion).