Longtime City Councillor’s Seed Collection Preserves The Roots Of British Columbia’s Agriculture
Harold Steves’ family has been involved in B.C. agriculture for more than 130 years, and with his collection of rare locally-adapted seeds, he hopes to remain so well into the future.
By Matt Meuse
Aug 22, 2016
One of Steves’ most popular plants is the alpha tomato, which dates back to the original Steves catalogue from 1877, bred to thrive in Lower Mainland soil and weather. According to Steves, it blooms a week earlier than other varieties, and produces red tomatoes a full month earlier.
Another point of pride in Steves’ collection is the black Russian sunflower. Steves believes he may be the only source of seeds for this particular strain in the world.
Steves’ collection also houses a number of more obscure vegetables, including parsnip, mangel and salsify.
“Most people have never heard of a mangel,” Steves said of the root vegetable that was originally grown to feed cattle.
“The yellow mangel that we grow actually has now become a gourmet food because it’s a fairly sweet type of beet and the leaves are really good to eat.”
Salsify is a unique carrot-like vegetable with a taste that resembles oysters — which Steves says is perfect for seafood lovers on a tight budget.