Cultivariable is a small, experimental nursery. Our focus is on breeding new varieties of minor crops suited to cultivation in the Pacific Northwest. Although we work prospectively or aspirationally with about 30 different species, the majority of our time is spent on five crops: ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus), mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum), yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius), oca (Oxalis tuberosa), and Andean potato (Solanum tuberosum subsp. andigenum). Our focus is on producing varieties that perform well in small-scale, low input agriculture. We breed varieties that have a diversity of flavors, colors, shapes, and sizes and we value culinary appeal and beauty over size, yield, and uniformity, although those can be nice traits as well. Along the way, we hope to make new discoveries and share that information so that we can all become better growers and breeders of these crops.
We grow almost everything that we sell, although we’re increasingly seeking to work with other local farms to produce some items. We are not certified Organic and have no intention of becoming so, but all of the crops that we offer are grown without pesticides or herbicides of any kind and all field grown crops are grown entirely with organic fertilizers. We grow this way because I believe that using these crutches is an impediment to breeding varieties that have good resistance and performance in low input agriculture. We do use some pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in the greenhouse and the lab because controlling the spread of disease is very important in the vegetatively propagated crops that we offer and there is no other effective way to accomplish that in such close growing conditions. We don’t sell any treated plants though – they have gone through a full season in the field before we offer them. We eat out of the same bins that we sell from.
None of our products are GMO and our breeding work is all done using traditional methods. All of our original varieties are released under open source terms through the Open Source Seed Initiative, which means that you are free (and encouraged) to use them as the foundation of your own open source breeding projects.