David Buchanan planted his first gardens twenty years ago in central Washington State, after learning about the heritage food movement through the Seed Savers Exchange. In addition to working for ranches, farms, and nurseries, he experimented with small grains like millet and barley, saved seeds for hundreds of vegetable varieties, and grafted and planted fruit trees. In the mid nineties he spent a year working with the Austrian counterpart to the Seed Savers Exchange, where he produced seeds to maintain thousands of vegetables and grains in their collection.
David helped found and for three years led the Portland, Maine chapter of Slow Food. He now serves on its national Ark of Taste Biodiversity Committee, which evaluates and helps preserve endangered heritage foods from around the country. He managed Cape Elizabeth’s Turkey Hill Farm in 2008, and continues to maintain trial gardens there filled with over 100 varieties of fruit as well as herbs and vegetables. In addition to managing the vegetable production for Old Ocean House Farms, he consults on landscape design, runs a nursery, Origins Fruit LLC, and is working on a book about regional foods.
- Princeton University, AB Class of 1988
- Conway School of Landscape Design Masters Program, Class of 2000
David's book, Taste, Memory traces the experiences of modern-day explorers who rediscover culturally rich forgotten foods and return them to our tables for all to experience and savor.
In Taste, Memory author David Buchanan explores questions fundamental to the future of food and farming. How can we strike a balance between preserving the past, maintaining valuable agricultural and culinary traditions, and looking ahead to breed new plants? What place does a cantankerous old pear or too-delicate strawberry deserve in our gardens, farms, and markets? To what extent should growers value efficiency and uniformity over matters of taste, ecology, or regional identity?
While living in Washington State in the early nineties, Buchanan learned about the heritage food movement and began growing fruit trees, grains, and vegetables. After moving home to New England, however, he left behind his plant collection and for several years stopped gardening. In 2005, inspired by the revival of interest in regional food and culinary traditions, Buchanan borrowed a few rows of growing space at a farm near his home in Portland, Maine, where he resumed collecting. By 2012 he had expanded to two acres, started a nursery and small business, and discovered creative ways to preserve rare foods. In Taste, Memory Buchanan shares stories of slightly obsessive urban gardeners, preservationists, environmentalists, farmers, and passionate cooks, and weaves anecdotes of his personal journey with profiles of leaders in the movement to defend agricultural biodiversity.
Taste, Memory begins and ends with a simple premise: that a healthy food system depends on matching diverse plants and animals to the demands of land and climate. In this sense of place lies the true meaning of local food.
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