Crop: Pisum sativum L. (Pea)

Frieda Welten from Spiez, canton Berne, was a Swiss organic garden pioneer. The grandmother of one of her cooking students gave her the first seeds of this winter sugar snap pea. Winter peas are planted in the soil in late autumn and are ripe earlier than the usual early varieties in the coming year due to their growth advantage. Robust and vigorous plant, so that harvesting can begin very early. The peas are very aromatic.

Cultivation System: low-input conditions.

Geographical Information

Country: Switzerland

The geographical coordinates indicate the earliest place (i.e. the village Aeschi) were the landrace was maintained in situ.

Nowadays, due to the activities of the ProSpecieRara foundation, there are various gardeners all over Switzerland that keep this landrace in their garden.

Farmer(s) description:

In Switzerland, sugar snap peas were generally scarcely produced by farmers for the market. Although the fresh peapods might be offered on market stalls, such varieties are primarily used as a garden crop. This holds even more true for this landrace, whose characteristic trait is its good winter hardiness. However, in the gardens of Switzerland sugar snap peas are a beloved crop and have a long tradition of several centuries as they provide some of the first fresh and sweet nourishments in spring.

Propagation system: Seed, self-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

The self-pollinating nature of peas generally allows an easy seed multiplication, if gardeners pay attention to leaving enough pods for ripening. To keep a good winter hardiness in the population of this landrace, it is crucial to sow it in autumn if seeds are intended to be harvested.

Management plan existence:

The ProSpecieRara foundation takes responsibility to keep this landrace variety in use and in multiplication at different places. Seed backups from each multiplication site are sent to the foundation’s headquarter from time to time. Generally, the foundation aims at growing together the different lines of an accession from time to time in order to refresh the population mixture, and if appropriate to make a selection of plants for a healthy population that keeps a variety’s characteristics. However, this procedure has not yet been undertaken for this landrace.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

‘Frieda Welten’ is primarily grown in private gardens and only few farmers cultivate and market this variety locally. Although this variety can be harvested earlier than standard early varieties it is and probably will remain a variety for small niche markets.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

‘Frieda Welten’ is one of only few remaining ‘winter crops’ of vegetables. Such crops are very precious in order to promote an all year use of gardens, and as such to provide to sustainability goals.

The ProSpecieRara foundation is supported by donators and other foundations for its conservation activities, e.g. to keep an overview of the multiplication sites and of available fresh seeds, to stay in contact with gardeners, to make crop descriptions, etc. However, the conservation work by these private gardeners and farmers is done on a voluntary basis only.

This landrace is beloved by several gardeners who appreciate a sugar snap pea of autumn sowing for early harvest in spring. Therefore, basic conservation is done by several gardeners incidentally in addition to the use of the crop. However, if it is necessary at any point to make a selection in the whole population, let’s say for plant health reasons, additional efforts by professional partners would be needed.

Seeds are available from Sativa Rheinau and from seed savers within the ProSpecieRara network.

Case study provided by ProSpecieRara, Switzerland.