Valentina Peveri

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Grant number

Gr. 9503

Approve Date

September 29, 2017

Project Title

Peveri, Dr. Valentina, Independent Scholar, San Giovanni, Italy - To aid research and writing on 'The Edible Gardens of Ethiopia: An Ethnographic Journey into Landscapes of Diversity and Hunger' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

[Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman] is a perennial plant – and indeed agricultural system – unique to Ethiopia. For centuries it has persisted through droughts and floods by storing water in its bulbous stalk, much like camels do in their humps. Moreover, in consideration of the strenuous labour that women perform in the processing, cooking, and selling of its products, enset can rightfully be described as a woman’s crop. Yet enset is not widely known as a food plant outside of Ethiopia; as a result, this alternative and versatile (agri)cultural paradigm remains obscure internationally relative to the size of the populations that subsist on it. Also, enset is not a unique miracle plant. Low-intensity cultivation practices characteristic of enset mirror those for other minor crops, which typically engender self-generating, closed-loop systems with each plant and living self being part of a larger functional design. An experiment in plant ethnography, the monograph which I propose to complete will use the political ecology of enset agriculture as a strategic entry point into the investigation of the challenges and development potential of tuber/perennial/garden crops for a food-secure national landscape and as a trigger to the ‘quiet revolution’ of women farmers. In shifting the perspective of a traditionally ‘hungry’ nation from commodity to subsistence, from techno-science to indigenous knowledge, from fortified varieties to underutilized crop species, and ultimately from single crops to populated landscapes, this project illuminates a case of agroecological diversity-in-context and reads through the broader significance of edible landscapes based on polyculture.