Testing nutrition of cold-hardy perennial vegetables: Fundraiser

PAI is proud to be working with a team of Swedish perennial vegetable experts on a project to test the nutrition of several important species. You may recall PAI’s paper last year which reviewed the existing literature on perennial vegetable nutrition and found that some perennials are among the world’s most nutritious crops when it comes to addressing the deficiencies that are impacting billions of people in both the Global South and North. We also learned that no data, or only very limited data, are available for many important perennial vegetable crops. This project aims to fill those gaps.

This kind of testing is quite expensive. The collaborative aims to raise $5,000 to test a wide range of nutrients on four crops: linden leaf (Tilia cordata), hosta shoots (Hosta sieboldii), Caucasian spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides), and scorzonera leaves (Scorzonera hispanica). All funds will go to testing and associated costs – our team are all volunteering our time.

Please visit our fundraising page at experiment.com to learn more and to support our effort if you wish.

A new climate and agriculture publication from PAI Director Eric Toensmeier

Today Project Drawdown released a new publication, Farming Our Way Out Of the Climate Crisis, with PAI Director Eric Toensmeier as lead researcher. It addresses agriculture’s emissions contributions, strategies to reduce emissions from agriculture, and the potential for (and myths about) carbon sequestration.

Here’s a summary of some interesting insights – that every farmed part of the world has something to offer, though they are not equal in their potential impact. This figure is not included in the publication, but the issues noted in it are. Briefly: sandy soils store less organic carbon, but have a higher methane storage potential compared to clay soils. Wetlands hold (much) more soil organic carbon than uplands, but have a smaller methane sink compared to uplands. Drylands store less organic carbon, but more inorganic carbon. Tropical regions have more carbon in biomass and less in soils, with the reverse in colder climates. In all cases, methane sinks are very small.

The article can be downloaded here.

Our new article on perennial staple crops

PAI is happy to announce that our newest article, “Perennial staple crops: Yields, distribution, and nutrition in the global food system” was published today in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. Building on the information presented in PAI Director Eric Toensmeier’s book The Carbon Farming Solution, this peer-reviewed article by lead author Maayan Kreitzman provides, for the first time ever, peer-reviewed analysis of the yields, nutrition, carbon sequestration, and adoption potential of this important class of perennial crops.

Perennial staple crops at Las Cañadas in Mexico: macadamia, air potato, and the giant acorns of chicalaba (Quercus insignis).

Biomass Article from PAI Director

PAI’s Director Eric Toensmeier has just published an article in Scientific American with Dennis Garrity of the Global Evergreening Alliance. The article looks at future demand for biomass, as many climate change mitigation solutions use large amounts of biomass as feedstock. The article discusses demand, which overall is projected to increase in a business as usual world, but is somewhat reduced due to biogas digestors, clean cookstoves and paper recycling. To this is added the increased demand for BECCS, biochar, 2nd generation biofuels, and other mitigation solutions. Meanwhile supply from forests decreases with forest protection, but increases with agroforestry and production of dedicated perennial biomass crops on anthropogenic grassland. The article is not open access, but you can email PAI for an electronic copy.

Perennial industrial crops, like biomass crops, are an important but complex part of agriculture and industry’s mitigation potential.

Perennial Vegetables for Nutrition, Biodiversity, and Carbon Sequestration

The Perennial Agriculture Institute is pleased to announce our first publication – “Perennial vegetables: A neglected resource for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and nutrition.” It is published open access by the prestigious scientific journal PLOS One.

Among our key findings:

  • 613 species are grown around the world, representing 33-56% of all cultivated vegetable species.
  • Perennial vegetables occupy 6% of world vegetable growing area,
  • Carbon sequestration potential is 23-281 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year.
  • Many perennial vegetables are particularly high in the nutrients needed to address deficiencies that impact some 3 billion people today.
  • The group of vegetables with the highest levels of these nutrients is trees with edible leaves, of which the study identifies over 70 cultivated species.

PAI will be initiating efforts to bring together nutrition, agroforestry, climate, and crop biodiversity leaders to develop an initiative to increase the planting and consumption of these multifunctional species.


Image: Many trees with edible leaves are grown in coppice systems where they are pruned back every year to stimulate production of tender growth for an extended season. Here, edible-leaf mulberry (Morus alba) is grown at Las Cañadas in Veracruz, Mexico.