Wild Pea of Umbria
(Pisum sativum); aka Roveja; Heirloom; a Slow Food Umbria Ark of Taste variety; Climber; Dry pea; Minimum 50 seeds
For centuries as far back as the Neolithic age, peasants and shepherds along Italy's Apennine Mountains, specifically on the Umbria-Marche ridge, cultivated or wild-harvested these hearty peas. Although a late twentieth century rise of mechanized agriculture and a desire for crops with greater profitability almost lead to its disappearance, the Wild Pea of Umbria variety now enjoys a resurgence through Slow Food Ark of Taste status that encourages its use and preservation. Nutritious, these peas are low fat dry pantry staples high in protein, carbohydrates, and essential minerals, with a rich taste more akin to a broad bean. They are superb in soup or as farecchiata, a slightly bitter stone-ground wild pea polenta traditionally flavored with anchovies, garlic, and EVO made a day ahead of time and served as pan-roasted slices the following day. True to their wild ancestry, these climbing peas required very little attention from us to produce an abundance of petite dry pods plump with gorgeous peas speckled in a multi-color array of earth-tones. Direct seeding in mid-April allowed us to succession plant a second crop for fall harvest. Earned a coveted spot on our “must grow” list.