From Seed to Plate: Paolo Arrigo

Red white and green marked the theme of Grayshott Gardeners June Club Night: visitors were greeted with a glass of wine and a sumptuous array of Italian nibbles (topped with flags), and entertained by authentic Italian accordion tunes even before Paolo started his talk proper. As promised, we were disabused of any preconceived ideas: the main seed companies in the uk do not produce seeds, most are imported from South East Asia. Wild fennel, growing along Hadian’s wall, is not native to Britain but was brought here by Roman Soldiers who were partial to the aniseed-flavoured seeds. Via the Boer War, two World Wars and their effect on food growing in the UK, we arrived at the present state of vegetable production and supply in this country, and the conclusion that fruit and vegetables taste best when eaten in season.

Paolo at the Eden Project

This was the cue for a Grand Tour of Italy’s regions, towns even, which are each linked with a particular food or variety of vegetable. Not really surprising, as Italy’s climate varies from the Alps in the North to a Mediterranean climate in the South, and has the Apennine mountains running along its spine. Tips for growing vegetables came hard and fast, and the description of food cooked with them was mouthwatering. The final summing-up was done in one word: local.

Lucky for us, Paolo who was assisted by his mother (as appropriate for the oldest family-run seed company in the world) had brought along a wide selection of Seeds from Italy; Brexit notwithstanding, Grayshott at least won’t be lacking in delicious fresh vegetables from Italy next year.

Catalogue of seeds and other products, as well as further information on Franchi Seeds and their distributors Seeds of Italy available on their website