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  Making the Purple Tree Collard the Official Green of Richmond
July 13, 2010

I have placed the following resolution on the July 20 City Council meeting agenda to finally give the Perennial Purple Tree Collard the recognition it so richly deserves. I will be serving a pot of homemade and home grown tree collards to City Council members before the meeting, and I will bring two autographed potted Purple Tree Collard plants to give to the first two persons who speak at the meeting to support this resolution. I hope you will support this with your letters, phone calls and emails to City Council members and your presence at the meeting. It would be nice for someone to write a letter to the editor of the West County Times, Richmond Globe and San Francisco Chronicle.

Photo one


WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard (Brassica oleracea v acephala) is a hybrid of the cabbage family and the mascot of Urban Tilth, a non-profit organization in West Contra Costa County that promotes urban agriculture our community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system, working with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to develop the capacity to produce 5% of our own food supply, and

WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard represents what Richmond aspires to be – tough, healthy and productive, and

WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard propagated by Urban Tilth was a 12-feet tall mother plant from the abandoned garden at JO Ford Elementary School, and

WHEREAS. the Perennial Purple Tree Collard is the perfect plant for building a healthy foodshed in west Contra Costa County, and

WHEREAS,  the Perennial Purple Tree Collard is productive (plants get 6-8 feet tall and 3 to 4 plants and can produce weekly side-dishes for a family of 4 year round), and

WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard is perennial (no need to replant or fuss with like annuals -- just cut back in the winter and watch for new growth each year), and

WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard is tough -- takes neglect and relatively little water. The leaves get tough with no irrigation, but as soon as the winter rains return the plants pop back into delicious shape, and

WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard is delicious (better than standard collards and especially sweet in cold weather), and

WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard is nutritious (not many foods are better for you than collard greens --   ask a doctor or your grandmother), and

WHEREAS, Perennial Purple Tree Collard leaves are rich in calcium (226 mg per cup, cooked), vitamins B1, B2, B9, and C (which may be leached by cooking, however), as well as beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). They are high in soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties: diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3'-Diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables such as collard greens is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity, and

WHEREAS, the Perennial Purple Tree Collard is easy to propagate (just take an 8 inch stem cutting and stick it in moist soil in the winter), and

WHEREAS, The Bay Area strain of purple tree collards gained national fame when Eric Toiensmeier cited them as one of the only decent-tasting perennial brassicas he had ever tried in his book Perennial Vegetables, and

WHEREAS, the history and biological identity of the Perennial Purple Tree Collard seems to be shrouded in mystery, but they are reputed to come from Africa and have been preserved and passed on within African-American communities in this country. They do not normally flower or make seed, and when they do, the seed does not breed true. Instead propagation is by cuttings, which are passed along from gardener to gardener, and

WHEREAS,  most likely, African-Americans from the South first brought the perennial purple tree collard to the Bay Area during the WWII-era so the perennial purple tree collard is intimately linked with Richmond's history, and

WHEREAS, tens of thousands of these plants at schools and on the commons in west Contra Costa County could help create a more sustainable, healthy, and just local food system. With purple tree collards, we can literally embed the value of healthy eating within our public landscapes.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the City Council of the City of Richmond designated the Perennial Purple Tree Collard as the official green of the City of Richmond.

Kristan's Famous Purple Tree Collards
(1) In a skillet, sautee a diced onion in olive oil until golden brown. Salt.
(2) Wash leaves (but don't dry).
(3) Rib leaves (feed ribs to worms or chickens afterwards).
(4) Chop leaves in thin (1/8-inch) strips.
(5) Add several gloves of chopped garlic to skillet. Sautee until fragrant, about 1 minute.
(6) Add greens.
(7) Stir.
(8) Add a large splash of chicken (or vegetable) broth or water.
(9) Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add extra water if it's drying out.
(10) Take the cover off. Cook off any excess moisture.
(11) Put in a bowl and add a few splashes of vinegar or lemon juice.