What is the History of Collard Greens?
Collard greens date back to prehistoric times. They are practically the dinosaurs of edible plants. One of the oldest members of the cabbage family, and in fact are also known as tree cabbage or non-heading cabbage. Their origin is usually erroneously stated as being African, but they were a Mediterranean dish long before they were popular in Africa.
Greens originated near Greece, but it wasn’t until the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in the early 1600s that America got its first taste of the dark green, leafy vegetable. Collard greens were just one of a few select vegetables that African-Americans were allowed to grow and harvest for themselves and their families throughout times of enslavement, and so over the years cooked greens developed into a traditional food. Even after the Africans were emancipated in the late 1800s, their love of greens continued and they kept handing down their well-developed repertoire of greens recipes from one generation to the next.
After the American Civil War, destitute white Southerners began eating collard greens and found what African-Americans had known for ten generations: they are delicious, and nutritious! In fact, collard greens are one of the most nutritious of the cool-season vegetables— they are bursting with vitamins and minerals that help prevent and fight disease. Today, many varieties of greens— collards, mustard, turnips, chard, spinach, and kale are available, but collard greens should be a staple in every healthy garden.
Here at Wingspread Farm we grow three varieties. We harvest when young all the way to the full grown, large leathery leaves. There is never any waste, if there are bugs, or worm eaten holes on them, the chickens get them. Win win for all of us.
Read more about collards here, from one of my favorite culinary geniuses:
Michael W. Twitty.
Every home and victory garden should be growing this vegetable. All you need is a little space or a pot with some soil. You can harvest a few outer leaves at a time, and one plant will nourish a family if included in most soups and stews. Young leaves can be eaten raw or shredded into a sandwich.
Be healthy, be self-reliant.
p.s. I will have seeds available for those who wish to experiment with growing some.