2020 Radicchio Expedition to Italy

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Curated by Shawn Linehan, Josh Volk and Lane Selman

Radicchio is a cool season vegetable that originated and is still widely grown in the northeastern regions of Italy, a climate of annual mean temperatures, and latitude very similar to those of the Pacific Northwest. It is a promising winter crop as it overwinters in the field and holds well in storage, providing a locally grown alternative to lettuce shipped from warmer regions during the colder months. Numerous farmers in Oregon and Washington are interested in growing radicchio, but have production questions on variety selection, seeding and transplanting timing, cultivation, harvest, forcing techniques and storage. Little of this detailed information is avail- able in the US and the best way to acquire details by directly visiting the farmers growing these crops in Italy. In 2014, an initial visit by Lane Selman, Josh Volk and Alex Stone to radicchio breeders in Chioggia was an invaluable introduction to many basics practices that were not commonly known in the US and this second trip, the Radicchio Expedition, builds on that information by visiting more growers in the region and documenting their practices.

In January 2020, 22 farmers, chefs, scholars, advocates, journalists and a photographer from Oregon and Washington visited production farms, seed companies and radicchio breeders throughout the Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions for five days with the mission to learn more about both production methods and culinary uses for radicchio, and to bring back that information for growers, cooks and eaters. The Expedition was organized and led by Italian farmer Myrtha Zierock of Azienda Agricola Foradori in Mezzolombardo, Italy, and Lane Selman of Culinary Breeding Network. The expedition culminated in a public event and radicchio celebration called Giàz (meaning ‘ice’ in the Trentino dialect) at Foradori. Both activities were a tremendous success and set the groundwork for a long-term cultural exchange.

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