Lupinus mutabilis (130 days, longer to seed) Open-pollinated. We thank Gary Kaszas of Fort Fairfield, Maine, for providing us with the impetus to offer Tarwi, one of the “lost” crops of the Incas. Years ago he sent us seeds he had accessed from the USDA seed bank for this wild-looking 3' lupine native to the high Andes. In our trials, we were first attracted to its flowers, mostly mountain-sky blue with yellows, reds and whites interspersed. More than just a beautiful ornamental plant, Tarwi is potentially an important food crop. With a full range of essential amino acids and more than 40% protein, its luminous pearly-white bean-like seeds (2–6 per pod) surpass soybeans nutritionally. They require a long season to mature, and must be soaked and rinsed repeatedly to leach out their bitter alkaloids to make a palatable food, somewhat akin to barley in texture and taste. Start the seed indoors—the young plants are frost sensitive. Even if you lack the climate or the dedication to grow the plants to seed, all is not lost. These leguminous beauties grow in poor soil, fixing nitrogen and attracting beneficial insects with honey-scented flowers. ~13 seeds/2g packet. Especially attractive to pollinators.⑤
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The selections here are rare heirloom varieties especially designed for small- or homestead-scale production. Most of them are decorative in both form and color, making great accents to bouquets and wreaths, but the revived interest in food security and sovereignty is what inspires us to list more edible and heirloom grains every year. In the early 1800s Maine was the breadbasket of the U.S. Wheat and rice do not demand huge space and can be threshed with a little ingenuity. With good fertility, proper spacing and reasonable diligence, it is quite possible to harvest 10 lb of heirloom wheat from 100 plants in a 10x10' plot. A 100' row of rice can yield 6–10 lb.
Larger-scale growers and farmers, those seeking larger quantities of more mainstream varieties, or those looking for cover crops should check out the Organic Growers Supply list of Farm Seed.