Some of you might know about Peters Seed and Research. It was a small cropseed company run by Tim Peters and eventually his associate, Dave Woods.
It sold a variety of fruits and vegetables, but its primary claim to fame were a few of its specialties. It was probably the most accessible source of perennial grains in the USA if not the world. Perennial grains (typically, wheat) also show up from time to time in government crop-breeding programs, but Tim was one of the few crop variety breeders who really took them seriously and tried to develop practical crops out of them.
What we have found is that perennial grains are useful in situations where you can just let them grow, and harvest them opportunistically. They tend to perform better than annual grains in harsh-weather years like this one for us.
Tim also specialized in Cucurbits and leafy greens, and he had several early-ripening tomatoes suitable for the Pacific Northwest, where tomatoes can be a challenge to ripen especially in La Niña years.
He also had a few odds and ends worthy of Luther Burbank, but without the controversial hype. For example, “Garden Huckleberries”–that is, edible Nightshades used as substitutes for blueberries–that are bigger and sweeter than normal.
That was what was available to the public. What was still in development was tantalizing in a weirdly wonderful way. Imagine for example Hibiscus bred to combine cold-hardiness, palatable leaves, EDIBLE PODS (like Okra or “tropical cranberries”), PLUS showy, edible flowers that can be used to make smoothies.
The trick of course would be to combine traits of already-existing species of Hibiscus and related genera. That was one of Tim’s specialties, including seemingly-impossible wide crosses.
He also did work on perennial eggplants and cucurbits, and took an interest in Passionfruit.
Tim was motivated to eventually bring this stuff to market.
Eric Toensmeyer’s book Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles (one of those “fun” books that keeps you up at night thinking of possibilities)
resulted in a sudden awareness of Tim Peter’s work. Unfortunately, it was too late; the company was already on its last legs. Now if you look up Peters Seed and Research on the internet, all you’ll find is a lot of inquiries regarding where to find this or that variety, or what happened to the company and would it be possible to buy his varieties from another source.
Tom and I rescued several of them. They were exceedingly hard to find. A few may have gone extinct. Too bad.
What if a small miracle happened, and some of his best varieties were suddenly available again?