The Story of a Seed: Cornell's Bush Delicata

by Erin Enouen

Every seed tells a story! In this blog series, we explore the in depth story from seed to pack to art for our soon-to-be-released art pack varieties.

cornells-bush-delicata What makes Cornell Bush Delicata stand out: This compact delicata variety is a product of Cornell University's breeding program, a breeding project lead by Molly Jahn.

deicata pot

Bush Delicata has all the perks of a great delicata: the first winter squash to ripen, sweet, firm flesh, and great flavor. Unlike other varieties though, this one is compact enough to grow in a large container or smaller garden space. Plus, Molly bred Powdery Mildew Resistance into this variety too! Expect anywhere from 2-5 ripe fruits from each plant.

delicata harvest

About our seed: To ensure the we were working with the best, our planting stock came directly to us from Cornell University. For seed production, we partnered with the Hudson Valley Farm Hub. A population of 250 plants were planted on our certified organic seed farm here in Accord, and 650 plants were planted at the Farm Hub in Kingston, NY. We were very impressed with the uniformity and compact size of the plants at both locations and noted an average of 3 mature fruits per plant at harvest here at our farm.

buckets of bush delicata (375x375)

Processing seed: Winter squash is one of the few seed crops we are able to save the seeds from and eat the fruit from. The squash are cut in half (gently) and the seeds are scooped into a bucket. The squash halves can be reserved for roasting, and seeds are fermented for 1-3 days, then rinsed thoroughly, dried, tested and then packed. delicata processingFor our first round of seed processing we had about 750 fruits to process! To assist our small crew, we were lucky enough to enlist the help of two amazing groups to speedily process those seeds. First, we had a community seed scoop at our 6th Annual Day to be Seedy. Our enthusiastic guests scooped seeds and collected the sweet squash flesh for eating. The next week, were were lucky to host the farm crew from the Pfeiffer Center.


Artist Sarah Paolucci: Since Cornell's Bush Delicata is classically bred open-pollinated variety, we wanted the art to reflect the story of the breeding work done to achieve the traits that make it stand out. Sarah's amazing depiction of hands made her a perfect match for this variety, which has a lot of hand-pollination in is history!

IMG_9847 (750x1000)

Cornell's Bush Delicata, along with our entire 2016 art pack releases will be available to order in a few short weeks! Look for our Art of the Heirloom exhibit at a gallery space near your by visiting our events page in the weeks to come.