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Derek Fell Draws More Than 60 to Program About Growing Local Food

The Bucks County Foodshed Alliance, in cooperation with Newtown Township Parks & Recreation, hosted the popular program on May 7.

Glenn Burd, left, holds the offspring of his grandfather’s Lazy Wife pole beans, grown by Fell, right.
Glenn Burd, left, holds the offspring of his grandfather’s Lazy Wife pole beans, grown by Fell, right.
Derek Fell, nationally known Bucks County author, gardener and photographer, drew more than 60 interested fellow Bucks County gardeners and local-food enthusiasts for a program centered on the best vegetables, fruits, flowers and grasses for this region — along with some fascinating seed and plant history.

The Bucks County Foodshed Alliance, in cooperation with Newtown Township Parks & Recreation, hosted the popular program, held May 7 in the township’s community room. 

“Grow This! Not That!” also gives the nod to Fell’s newest publication, Grow This, which chronicles the choices he has made for his own garden in rural central Bucks County.

Fell started out as a seed catalog manager in London, eventually coming to the United States to fill the same role for Burpee Seeds and David Burpee and later seeking “best of” varieties for All-America Selection®. He traveled extensively, meeting gardeners and introducing new varieties from developers around the world. Among his introductions is the first-ever plump, edible-pod pea, the now immensely popular Sugar Snap Pea, which came out of a meeting with the gardener/developer in New Orleans. 

When Fell came to Bucks County in 1964, he made friends with Carversville gentleman farmer Bill Burd, who gave him a supply of Lazy Wife pole beans, the first stringless pole bean, developed by Burpee around 1888. Eaten like a snap bean, the taste is like butter, he says. When Bill Burd died, his wife passed along to Fell a shoebox full of the original white, rounded Lazy Wife seeds, an open-pollinated variety, meaning the plants are true to seed in each generation. Fell is still growing and harvesting his Lazy Wife bean, and notes that the seed companies claiming to stock Lazy Wife seeds are selling imposters.

Fell had small packets of Lazy Wife for sale at the event, along with some of his books. 

Derek Fell is a prolific writer and photographer whose career includes helping with a previous White House vegetable garden. He landscaped his 24-acre Cedaridge Farm in Pipersville to photograph and to share with the public through both his publications and open house garden tours. Among his dozens of books are the award-winning Vegetables: How to Select, Grow & Enjoy – still considered full of timely advice three decades later – and The White House Vegetable Garden.

The Bucks County Foodshed Alliance is a nonprofit organization that works to strengthen our farming economy and improve availability of local, healthy, sustainably grown food by connecting farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in education, government, health care and business in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. For more information: www.BucksCountyFoodshedAlliance.org.

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