May 1st for the May June 2018 Issue
By Stephanie Lambert
Mark Christensen believes wholeheartedly in the power of heritage food crops to produce health – for the plants themselves, the soil they grow in and the people who eat them. It’s not simply nostalgia. He’s convinced that food-growing for profit has produced nutritionally inferior plant stock and he talks of ‘re-booting the gene pool back to before profit-based plant breeding became the norm’. Pre-1940s seems a fair rule of thumb.
In 2007 Christensen established the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust (HFCRT) in Whanganui where his role is director of research. Trust members collect, cultivate and preserve promising heritage plant stock; they monitor research on the medical benefits of plants; they commission and obtain funding for new scientific studies; and they grow the plant material to be tested.