Goldstone Hall gardeners hoping to save Shropshire heirloom seeds with new project

A north Shropshire hotel's award-winning garden has begun a new partnership to revive and protect heirloom seed varieties originating in Shropshire.

Assistant Gardener at Goldstone Hall Gardens, Sarah Smith-Roe
Assistant Gardener at Goldstone Hall Gardens, Sarah Smith-Roe

Award-winning Goldstone Hall Country House Hotel, near Market Drayton, has launched a new partnership with Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library (HSL), with the aim of reviving, conserving and protecting a selection of heritage and heirloom vegetable seed varieties, some of which have historical origins in Shropshire.

The heritage varieties which are being trialled in Goldstone’s one acre kitchen garden will include runner bean blackpod – a 19th century heirloom from Bridgnorth; lettuce brown bath cos – one of the oldest cos lettuces which becomes brownish-bronze when exposed to sunlight.

It is also trialling beetroot dewing’s early blood turnip, tomato darby striped red and yellow, kale uncle Burt’s purple, and carrot John’s purple. Goldstone aims to both grow the seed to serve the produce in their hotel restaurant, as well as return some seed to the Heritage Seed Library for their ongoing conservation in due course.

Assistant gardener at Goldstone Hall Gardens, Sarah Smith-Roe, said: “We are delighted to be safeguarding heritage and heirloom varieties of local vegetable seeds through the Heritage Seed Library scheme.

"It’s a great way for us to continue to support conservation, biodiversity and help maintain genetic diversity within veg crops.

"The beauty of the one-acre kitchen garden here at Goldstone is that we grow many varieties of vegetables and fruit which cannot be found elsewhere, giving the restaurant customer a unique taste of Shropshire soil. These newly introduced heritage varieties will add to the special quality we offer here at Goldstone.”

John Cushing owner of Goldstone Hall Hotel said: “At the heart of our culinary offering is our one acre kitchen garden from which we source many of our ingredients. Being part of the Heritage Seed Library is a special way to explore our unique history and celebrate rare heritage varieties of produce from both Shropshire and the UK for diners coming to Goldstone.”

Catrina Fenton, head of the Heritage Seed Library said: “We believe the best way to conserve varieties is to get people growing and enjoying them again. We’re delighted that Goldstone Hall Hotel are going to be helping us not only by sharing these unique varieties with their guests but also by supporting us as Seed Guardians to save the seed. It is particularly great to see local varieties, such as Blackpod, growing back in the Shropshire region.”

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