The original idea for the project came from Dr. Owen Glyn Smith who works at Plymouth University. He has had a long career in horticulture and biodiversity including time with HDRA in their Heritage Seed Library. Since 2009 he has been independently working with new and unusual roots and tubers and publishing his work on his blog Radix under the pseudonym Rhizowen.
As well as providing the inspiration Owen is our chief scientist and also propagates, tends and prepares thousands of seedling oca plants which are the raw material sent out to our members.
Manda Gwinn manages 9 hectares of land in northern France for biodiversity and wildlife and has a large kitchen garden where she aims to be self sufficient in staples while trialling various exotic and marginal native foodstuffs. Oca has been part of the rotation since the turn of the century.
Her responsibilities within the Guild are primarily to manage the social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and to help out with other tasks as they arise with the small team.
Dr Ada Grabowska-Zhang is a lecturer in Biological Sciences at Brasenose College and a postdoctoral researcher at the Edward Grey Institute, Oxford.
She is a keen gardener with a strong interest in plant breeding and is helping Ocabreeders with experimental design, database construction and statistics.
Sienna Gray is a final year PhD student, studying the transcriptomics and genetics in aquaculture. She lives on a smallholding working towards self-sufficiency and hopes to use her interest in adaptation and fitness to live in the Scandinavian wilderness.
After discovering the unusual world of Oca, she is excited to be involved with the Guild’s project and hopes to contribute to the breeding efforts an promoting the work to a wider audience.
Sienna is our Membership manager and will helping with data analysis.
Alison Tindale runs a small online nursery, The Backyard Larder, where she propagates and sells perennial vegetables. She is interested in planet friendly food production and would like to see easy perennial vegetables growing in every urban garden. With her husband she grows fruit and vegetables on two allotments and she gets excited about any self-sufficiency experiments which lead to crossing items off the shopping list. She loves the way the Guild has given her the chance to be involved in collective plant breeding and looks forward to the day when we produce the first day-length neutral oca variety.
Alison looks after the Ocabreeders’ twitter feed.