The Daily Spud

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Tag: Dave Langford (page 1 of 5)

Spudless Sunday

Those who have read this blog over the years will know that I have written about the Dave Langford/Dermot Carey heritage potato collection many times.

Their 225+ varieties of potato, including many rare, old varieties of Irish interest which, for many years, they have displayed and spoken about at events countrywide, have made for a wonderful educational resource, a living history and an important part of our food heritage.

This past weekend I learned of an incredibly severe blow to the collection, a too-harsh lesson in the fragility of preserving old and rare varieties and of not better supporting the people who do that important work for us. While all is not entirely lost, there is much that is, and a challenge has been set for those who really believe that such things are worth preserving.

For the past six years, mid-March has been writ large in my calendar. Not, as you might imagine, because of St. Patrick’s Day in all of its greenery but rather, because it is at or around this time of year that the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, hosts its annual Potato Day.

Potato Day Sign

It’s an event presided over by Hans Wieland, and a time for people to stock up on seeds for the coming season, to get advice from expert growers, and to hear talks on subjects of interest to the gardener of potatoes, be it on the importance of soil (the subject of an excellent presentation given this year by Trevor Sargent) or on GM or blight resistant spuds, or even a spin through the latest in spud developments from around the world (which was my contribution to this year’s event).

And ever-present, every year, has been a diverse display of potatoes – the rare, old and unusual spud collection that has been amassed, maintained and nurtured over a great many years by Dave Langford, and ably assisted in that task for the past 8 or 9 years by master vegetable grower Dermot Carey.

potato display

From my first Potato Day excursion in 2009:
what was to become the familiar sight of varieties from the Langford/Carey collection on display

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Spud Sunday: Super Spud Heroes

Somebody asked me recently if ever I worried about running out of spud news. On a week such as the one just past, the answer would be no, not really…

Last Saturday was, of course, time for my annual pilgrimage to Leitrim for the Organic Centre‘s Potato Day – which this year featured Dr. David Shaw of the Sárvari Research Trust and John Brennan of the Leitrim Organic Farmers and Growers Co-op. It’s an event which – though we may talk of blight and GM trials – always puts me in a positive potato mood (which, sadly, is more than can be said of the news reported by Suzanne Campbell earlier that same day on RTE Radio One’s Countrywide program, that prices paid to Irish potato farmers this year have gone through the floor, with many facing substantial losses).

Organic Centre Potato Day

Potato Day at the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim: a fixture in any spud-head’s calendar.
Those who missed it might be interested to know that Sonairte in Co. Meath will also run a Potato Day this coming Saturday, March 22nd, from 11am-4pm. I’ll be there and will be hoping for a somewhat less eventful visit than last year

On the upside for the state of spuds in Ireland, though, it gave me immense pleasure last Wednesday to see the heroic efforts of Dave Langford and Dermot Carey in building and preserving a collection of 225+ varieties of potato acknowledged with an award from the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG). It was presented as part of the Guild’s annual food awards, which are based on nominations and voting by members of the Guild (of which I am honoured to be a card-carrying member, so I might, eh, have had some part to play in singing certain potatoey praises). Herewith a little history on what the pair have done, and all for the love of spuds.
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Spud Sunday: Slow Spuds

We can get so blasé about food these days.

Bread or beans or beef or bananas – from the bleurgh to the bon appetit – it’s just stuff we eat, right?

And when things are a bit Mother Hubbard, we can nip to the supermarket, grab a takeaway or use our nearest ‘net connection to hunt and gather without leaving the couch – point, click, sorted.

So it’s easy to forget that food takes time (beyond the delay between order and arrival of your 16-inch pepperoni special, that is). If you cook, and you do so from scratch rather than bunging a few bits in the microwave, the time-in-food-out equation starts to look different, with more time spent often balanced by greater value placed on the end result; even more so if you grow or rear any of the food involved (spend months defending your patch of green from garden invaders and you savour the survivors greatly). It’s the kind of premise on which the Slow Food movement was built and which gets GIY-ers going in their gardens.

Daves All Blue Potato

Dave Langford’s All Blue Potatoes on show at last year’s Potato Day at Sonairte

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