The indigenous cultures of the Andes used and domesticated a wide variety of native species as crops. Perhaps the most famous is the potato. Historically these crops were important components of the Colombian diet and in the south of the country several remain so. Here in Antioquia only a few are currently in wide usage. The book “Lost Crops of the Incas” is an excellent source of information on the subject.
Our finca in the Santa Elena area is within a climatic zone which supports many of the ancient crops. As time goes by I will search out growing stock of these crops and plant them. Recently I found tubers of Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) and bought 3 to plant at the finca. These have now sprouted and are growing well (03/09/09).
I also plan to plant the papa criollo (Solanum phureja). These are very popular here in Medellin and are delicious.
Another of these heritage crops that is still on the market here in Medellin is arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza). This is another very tasty root crop in the carrot family. It has a very rich, nutty flavor that is great in soups and stews.