In 2007, for the first time ever, there are two winners of the annual international travel bursary that is the Geoffrey Roberts Award. Florida-based geography teacher Richard Villadoniga, 30, is currently touring the US with his $6,000 award on a mission to draw attention to disappearing all-American produce such as the following:
1. Charbono Grape of California (only 65 acres in the USA!)
2. Chapalote Corn/Chapalote Pinole drink (Southwest USA and Southern California)
3. Anishinaabeg Manoomin (wild rice – only grain native to North America)
4. Capitol Reef Apple (grown inside Capitol Reef National Park, Utah and only one other farm in Sebastopol, California)
5. Crane Melon (Santa Rosa, California cross between a Japanese melon and a cantaloupe)
6. California Mission Olive
7. Pawpaw (the largest edible fruit native to the USA)
8. New Mexican Native Chile
9. Chiltepin pepper (only wild native chile in USA)
10. Louisiana Satsuma orange
11. Ozette Potato (similar to a fingerling, grown in Colorado)
12. Inchelium Red Garlic (grown on the Colville Indian Reservation, Washington state)
13. Olympia Native Oyster
14. Geoduck Clams (can grow to be over 100 years old in Pacific Northwest)
15. Bolita bean (similar to the Pinto bean, SW USA)
16. Oodham Pink bean (SW USA)
17. Navajo-Churro Sheep (SW USA)
18. American Bronze turkey (Kansas)
19. Red Wattle Pig (Kansas)
20. Handmade Filé (Louisiana Sassafras powder)
21. American Buffalo (northern Great Plains)
22. Guajillo Honey (SW USA)
23. Carolina Gold Rice
24. Carolina Stoneground Grits
You can follow his progress at www.eat-american.com and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has already attracted considerable interest from local media and the likes of Bon Appetit and Saveur magazines. He says, “It is my hope that both the small family farmers and the foods they grow, highlighted in my journey across America, will be significantly aided by the media attention, and in turn, will see increased sales. Such an effect would be a major accomplishment and a turning point for the way we eat and think about food in America.
“I also hope that my students will learn to treasure the unique foodstuffs of our country and begin to understand the critical importance of preserving our biodiversity, culture, and traditions. The connections with our past are a bridge to our future. My students are the carriers of these lessons into the future, and what they decide to do with their knowledge will affect generations to come.”
His eventual aim on his return is to develop a special curriculum about endangered American foodstuffs for shared use so as to maximize the number of children, farmers and consumers who benefit from learning about this issue – a conscious step towards combating fast food culture.
The second winner of another $6,000 grant is Jock Brandis from www.fullbellyproject.org, a charitable organisation dedicated to designing and providing simple machinery to impoverished communities in Africa which helps them add value to their produce. A typical example is their mechanical peanut sheller, pictured right.
The trustees of this award, made annually since 1996 in memory of the pioneer New World wine importer Geoffrey Roberts, were able to give two of their international travel bursaries this year because last year’s winner Nazli Parvizi, who had planned an ambitious agricultural project in Vietnam, has been promoted in the New York City mayor’s volunteer office and has therefore been unable to bring her project to fruition.
Applications for the 2008 Award are welcome via http://www.geoffreyrobertsaward.com and will be processed in the first three months of next year. Deadline 31 March 2008.