Vanessa James is watering the frilly Pink lettuce. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News
Vanessa James is watering the frilly Pink lettuce. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News John Gass

Lettuce give thanks

A MURWILLUMBAH nursery owner has helped take a rare lettuce variety from near extinction to award winner.

When Vanessa James of Farmers Choice Organics first tried growing the Frilly Pink lettuce, its poor performance could have easily put her off.

While a terrible germination rate wasn't in the leafy green's favour, Ms James nurtured the seedlings that looked like they had a fighting chance, and collected the seeds to try again.

When her seed suppliers stopped stocking Frilly Pink, Ms James said she got "a bit panicky", with customers of her Wollumbin St nursery requesting the tasty, colourful lettuce.

"The germination was terrible," Ms James said.

"There were a few little "seedlings", but a lot didn't germinate at all.

"It got to a point where (the suppliers) didn't have any.

"I couldn't get hold of it."

Thankfully, each time she has saved seed from the plants, germination has become more reliable, the seedlings more resilient.

This was only possible because the seeds she originally bought were open-pollinated, non-hybrid, Ms James said.

Three years since she first began saving Frilly Pink seeds, Ms James is onto the fourth generation of the loose-leaf lettuce.

Now, she said it's well-acclimatised to the local area, and growing better than ever.

"I always picked the very best (seeds)," she said.

"Each time they're getting bigger and stronger."

So much so that Murwillumbah cane farmer Allan Brown won a champion spot for his Frilly Pink at the Tweed River Agricultural Society Show.

Ms James said her experience with the Frilly Pink had piqued her interest in launching a Tweed chapter of the seed-saving network.



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