Perennials have been getting more popular as part of the sustainable farming and permaculture movement. Our farm started as a vegetable farm, and most of what we plant are annual crops in this climate, but we are seeing tremendous potential in perennial food plants. One benefit in that that you plant them only once and harvest for years.
Perennials like small fruits are mostly plants you’ve heard of – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. But there are newer varieties making their way across the foodscape and we featured some of them in this year’s plant sale: Goji berries, Kiwi berries aka Hardy Kiwi, Aronia berries and Hardy Figs. Why did I choose those varieties?
I look for ones that would do well in southwest Ohio, in our climate. That wouldn’t be too fussy or hard to grow, are disease resistant, that sort of thing. The other big benefit is that many of these are superfoods – packed with nutrition and anti-oxidants. I see perennials as part of increasing our regional food security – the more people can come to small farms like ours for food, or grow their own if they have a yard, the less impact there will be from supply chain problems.