Check out this upcoming event in Victoria, and live webcast for those in other locations:
‘Dispersed Adaptation’ to Climate Change: The Heritage Potato Crop-Climate Project
Wednesday, November 30th
Room 002, University House 1, University of Victoria, 2489 Sinclair Rd
Climate change threatens Canadian and global food security. Heritage varieties are disappearing at an alarming rate with the result that loss of genetic diversity makes our food supply vulnerable to climatic variability. Dispersed adaptation takes advantage of the power of the “many-eggs-in-many baskets” approach. Growing a diversity of varieties in many ways and places disperses the risk to climate uncertainty and extremes. The dispersed strategy builds resilience and adaptation and lowers the risk of major crop failures. It also encourages forward thinking and innovation by encouraging communities to identify and develop varieties best suited to their local climate.
As part of the project, citizen-scientist growers plant several varieties and observe development and yield of promising heritage potatoes while recording key weather variables directly in their fields. Trials are distributed across highly different climates in Canada where varieties are observed for several years. Using standard and accepted methods, the performance of heritage and selected standard potatoes is compared. The initiative has identified several highly adaptive and productive varieties, uncovered an uniquely British Columbian variety, recorded adaptive cultural techniques and distributed thousands of heritage tubers to the public.
Richard Hebda has a PhD in Botany from the University of British Columbia and has been a Curator of Botany and Earth History at the Royal British Columbia Museum for more than 36 years and an adjunct faculty member in Biology and Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria for more than 31 years. He was the first faculty coordinator of the Restoration of Natural Systems Program at UVic and the Province of BC’s expert advisor on Burns Bog, purchased as a globally unique ecosystem. He studies vegetation and climate history of British Columbia, Ethnobotany of BC First Nations, climate change and its impacts, restoration of natural systems and processes, ecology and origins of Garry oak and alpine ecosystems and botany of grasses. Richard Hebda, with his graduate students, is an author of over 120 scientific papers; over 250 popular articles mainly on bulbs and native plants, climate change; co-author of five books and major reports, co-editor of three books. He serves as the Province of BC’s science advisor in Paleontology and was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2013 for his service in paleontology and the Canada-wide Bruce Naylor Award for curatorship in natural history.