Gina Frausin, a Research assistant at Lancaster University, talks about her experience of growing quinoa in Lancaster.

Gina Frausin “I have always had a great fascination for plants – especially food plants. This is why I plant various interesting varieties of fruits and leaves and seeds at home. I have also, for more than ten years, studied the agricultural systems of indigenous tribes in the Colombian and Brazilian Amazon.”

“Whilst living in Lancaster I have got involved with the local alternative food network. I have connected with an incredible group of people who have set up the Lancaster seed library and have started growing and saving the seeds of Quinoa. But Quinoa in Lancaster?..”

“The first time I saw Quinoa was at Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, South America. It was a stunning plant – it was both beautiful and delicious.”

“It also has excellent nutritional properties and has become known in the West as a ‘super food’. This has resulted in the demand for Quinoa on the world market increasing. Quinoa’s properties include it having a high concentration of fibre and the presence of omega 6 and omega 3. I was therefore keen to learn how to grow it in Lancaster- especially as the seed library was sharing locally-grown quinoa seed.”

“I spent a few hours learning about Quinoa cultivation by reading online manuals and by watching videos on YouTube. I discovered traditional methods of growing and processing Quinoa in Bolivia. I also learnt about how it is grown in a wide range of climates – in areas where temperatures range from below zero to more than 30 degrees. As Lancaster rarely reaches above 23 degrees in the summer, it offers the perfect climate for Quinoa.”

Quinoa seed Quinoa seedlings

“I quickly put the seeds to germinate in some pots of compost on the kitchen windowsill in April. They grew quickly and in a few days I already had seedlings! I took the seedlings outside to my allotment (forgetting the acclimatization phase) and planted them. They looked as if they would die from the temperature shock! However, the next day the plants continued to grow- beautiful and vigorous. I discovered that they are very resistant, adaptive and strong.”

“I also tried to sow the seeds directly on the ground – spreading the seeds according to the traditional method. They are now growing strong and are very happy plants.”

“I am now waiting for the harvest and am crossing my fingers in the hope that the slugs and snails will leave me something to eat.”

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