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About This Historic Picture
The Landreth Seed Company commissioned the oil painting pictured above for 1909, exactly 100 years ago. The painting was inspired by a photograph taken by the photographer, Rudolph Eikemeyer, between 1894 and 1900, entitled, Aunt Chloe Preparing Dinner, and was included in Eikemeyer's book, Down South, a photodocumentary of the daily life, post-slavery, of blacks still on Southern plantations. Eikemeyer believed that these former slaves represented a folk culture as unique and enriched as any that has ever existed.

Recommendations by Michael Twitty
Culinary Historian of Traditional African American Food Culture

Michael Twitty is a community scholar of traditional African American food culture, a Hebrew school teacher and an independent living history interpreter. For ten years he has been involved in many projects related to exploring foodways from the Smithsonian to Colonial Williamsburg and has presented at conferences related to the subject. His personal initiative is to document the West and Central African heritage in the regions where his ancestors were enslaved. His first book, Fighting Old Nep: The Foodways of Enslaved Afro-Marylanders 1634-1864 is a compendium of his extensive research enriched with recipes which he has collected from the descendants and writings of enslaved peoples.

Mr. Twitty has generously given of his time, knowledge and experience to assist and guide the D. Landreth Seed Company in assembling this unique collection of heirloom seeds - seeds that were carried by enslaved peoples from Africa and the Caribbean. The fruits and vegetables harvested from these seeds became the dietary staples of the African American family. On the anniversary of its 225th year, Landreth is pleased to offer this collection for all peoples who treasure freedom.

Brown Crowder (A Cow Pea)

Hot Pepper Habanero

Brought from West Africa to America during the slave trade, it was noted in antebellum Mississippi in the 1860's.

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Another variety of Scotch Bonnet, it's the secret to perfect Jamaican "jerked" chicken, meat or fish.

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California Black-eyed Peas (A Cow Pea)

Pumpkin Green Striped Cushaw

This prolific cowpea has assumed mystical properties--attracting money, giving fertility bring good luck on New Year's Day

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Known as the "sweet potato pumpkin", it was brought from Jamaica to the Chesapeake in the late 1700's.

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Sieva (Carolina) Butter Bean (A Pole Lima Bean)

Pumpkin White Cushaw

Called "sivvy" or butter beans by generations of Southerners, and especially loved in the Charleston area.

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Another variety of "potato pumpkin", more popular in the Lower South.

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Cabbage Charleston Wakefield

Spinach Climbing Red Malabar

Used for generations by Black cooks as a base for Low Country "vegetable bunch", soup.

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The crisp green known as "calalloo" in the West Indies.

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Cabbage Late Flat Dutch

Summer Squash White Bush Scallop

Praised in Black folksongs from Virginia, "biled down" and eaten with hoecakes.

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Known as "cymling squash", this was one of most common vegetables purchased by the Jefferson family from their enslaved workforce.

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Georgia Southern Collards

Tomato Cherokee Purple

Capt.William Feltman rode through Virginia in the 1760's and saw enslaved Blacks growing "snaps and collerds" (sic) in their gardens.

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Representative of the great Southern folk tomatoes grown on family farmsteads, cold tolerant and flavorful.

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West India Burr Gherkin (A Pickling Cucumber)

Tomato Purple Calabash

Introduced by Minton Collins in Richmond in 1793, the plant was originally brought from Angola to the Caribbean.

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Enslaved Africans were among the first to popularize the tomato in the American South.

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Eggplant Louisiana Long Green

Turnip Seven Top

Introduced by Africans and Spaniards into Southern and Creole cuisine, they were grown in the gardens of enslaved Louisianians.

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The classic Southern "turnip green," it produces a woody inedible root but luxurious, self-replenishing greens.

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Gourd Long Handled Dipper

Watermelon Georgia Rattlesnake

Immortalized in "Follow the Drinking Gourd," this was the most common vessel used in the rural South gracing most fences.

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Watermelons were introduced from Africa during colonial times; this variety reflects heirloom varieties grown from the 1830's onward.

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Gourd Birdhouse/Bottle

Dragon Finger Millet

Used to carry beverages to the fields and hung to attract purple martins to deter other birds from the crops.

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Representative of the staple grains grown in West Africa. Millet is a sacred crop used to bless homes. A highly ornamental, yet productive grain used for cereal or flour. The seedhead resembles a dragon's foot. Plant is 3 ft. tall.

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Mustard Southern Giant Curled

Basil Genovese

Grown in the Upland South since the 1740's. Different mustard greens were sown with tobacco in beds to deter pests.

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Grown for good luck and to prevent negative energy near the doorway of the household.

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Burgundy Okra

Cress Upland

A beautiful red okra that turns green after cooking.

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Known as "creasy greens," they provided a spicy contrast to other leafy vegetables.

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Cowhorn Okra

Dandelion

The oldest variety of okra grown in the U.S., less mucilaginous, it makes excellent okra soup and gumbos.

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Beloved for their greens and their wine-flavoring blossoms.

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Jumbo Peanuts

Parsley Plain or Single

Brought to Virginia during the slave trade, peanuts were called "goober" from the Kimbundu people of Central Africa.

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Used by Mary Randolph to top off okra soup and fried chicken in the Virginia Housewife.

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Hot Pepper Caribbean Red (A Red Habanero)

Sage

Known as the Scotch Bonnet Pepper, it may have been grown in the South since the 18th century.

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Used to season "kush," an enslaved precursor to Southern cornbread stuffing; also made into a medicinal tea.

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Hot Pepper Long Red Cayenne

Spearmint

1,000 were ordered by Josiah Collins in the 1700's to season the food of his slaves, brought directly from Africa to North Carolina

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Used to make mint teas for centuries in West Africa, and iced tea and mint juleps in the South.

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Hot Pepper Fish Pepper

Thyme

A favorite in Maryland brought from Africa or the Caribbean and used to season seafood, shellfish, terrapin and chicken dishes.

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Used as a flavoring herb and to curb the growth of bacteria.

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D. Landreth Seed Company
60 East High Street, Bldg #4
New Freedom, Pennsylvania 17349
For Assistance call 1-800-654-2407

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