Product development – Rare vegetable varieties from the Kamptal valley

Topic area
Agriculture and forestry, incl. value chain

Disaggregation level
Climate protection
Short supply chains
Nature conservation
Local amenities

Project region
Lower Austria

Local Action Group (LAG)
LAG Kamptal

LE– Programming Period
LE 14–20

Project period
04.03.2016-28.02.2019 (geplantes Projektende)

Project costs overall
102.974,17 €

Subsidy from LE 14-20
66.418,34 €

EN - 19.2.1. Umsetzung der lokalen Entwicklungsstrategie

Project initiator

Short description

ARCHE NOAH owns a seed bank of several vegetable varieties that are still of little market relevance, but of future importance in terms of diet diversification. Especially during the winter month many people are seeking for tasty alternatives to potatoes.

In order to make the rare vegetable varieties available to a large number of consumers, some progress within the fields of variety development has to be made. Furthermore, a marketing network (organizing events for restaurant owners, caterers etc.) will be established during this project. 

Point of departure

Plant-based food products have increasingly become important in Europe within the last years. The production of rare vegetable varieties can be seen as an interesting future prospect for small farmers within the LEADER region Kamptal valley. With this project the ARCHE NOAH association addresses exactly those small farmers.

ARCHE NOAH owns a seed bank of several vegetable varieties that are still of little market relevance, but of future importance in terms of diet diversification. The major project aim is to finally develop “new products from old vegetable species”. Ultimately we would like to support and promote the development of a more diverse vegetable production (+ enriched variety i.a. of seasonal farm products) and to increase the value creation in the medium term.

Especially the species variety among winter vegetables shall be extended (i.a. also for “Veggie box” providers) throughout this project.


The project operator does not generate any revenues.

Targets and target groups

Major targets:

  • Development of new products from a selection of old vegetable varieties; Support and promote the preservation of agricultural diversity as well as the adaptation of certain species to the changing climate conditions.
  • Increase the knowledge on rare vegetable species; Enhance the value creation on small farms in the medium term.
  • Support and promote the Kamptal valley’s position of a so called “Vielfalts- und Saatgutregion“; Contribute to the enrichment and diversification of the regional cuisine by launching promotion events with the regional gastronomy and by networking.

Specific project goals:

  • Effect the preliminary work related to the production’s up-scaling (participatory process involving farmers and representatives from relevant businesses in the Kamptal valley); Make the seed varieties commercially viable; Develop a market for rare vegetable varieties.

  • Make the project findings available for concerned parties; Promote the Kamptal valley’s pioneering function in terms of the recultivation of rare vegetable species;  Perform awareness raising, networking and public relation activities, especially inside but also outside the region à Involve relevant stakeholders into the product development already at an early stage; Develop sales channels; Raise awareness of the value generated by the cultivation of rare vegetable varieties;

Project implementation and measures

·         Project development activities targeting old vegetable varieties

·         Species conservation; Perform cultivation and selection trials on pilot plots (Month 1 to 34)

·         Conceptual design, planning and realization of cultivation and breeding trials at vegetable farms within the region, at the horticultural school in Langenlois, at the ReinSaat KG and at the gardens of the ARCHE NOAH association.

The following species are being worked on:

·         Chervil (Chaerophyllum bulbosum): The delicacy with long history in Austria has almost disappeared from the local cultivation. Several restaurant owners and cooks have been recovering the delicious chervil for the modern gastronomy. All the same its availability in Austria is still limited at the moment. This can be attributed to the previous negligence of breeding and cultivation activities.

·         Sugar snap pea (Pisum sativum): This pea species can be eaten whole and can be prepared in many ways (e.g. as salad etc.). Most sugar pea species that are currently offered at our supermarkets are mainly imported from Central and South America as well as from Eastern Africa.  Their organoleptic quality is frequently reduced throughout the long way of transportation. It can be assumed that the domestic production of sugar peas has got big future potential in Austria. Furthermore, the sugar pea can be seen as an attractive addition to the existing product range, as they can be grown already in early spring.
·         Small fruited pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.): In recent years, it has been shown that there is an increasing demand for medium and small sized pumpkins (household-friendly size).  The currently available product assortment just represents a tiny part of the obtainable varieties, forms and sizes. Currently there is a strong need for pumpkin varieties adapted to dry regions (f.ex. the Kamptal-valley).

·         Rare cabbage varieties for wok (Brassica spp.).: There are several cabbage species (Broccoletto, Choy sum, Kai-lan,…) that could be additionally offered during the winter and spring months.

·         The selected varieties belong to four relatively different but for the vegetable production sector very important botanical groups. The gathered knowledge and experience as well as the generated results will serve as basis for future projects and contribute to their successful realization.

The research targets and the detailed cultivation plan will be defined in collaboration with the project partners, in order to ensure the project’s practical relevance. A special research focus will be set on frost tolerance (pea, cabbage), sprouting/ shooting resistance (cabbage), taste and nutritional composition (pumpkin, chervil).

·         Accompanying research work & cooperations (M7-M34)

Wherever possible and practicable the cultivation trials will be involving students performing a relevant dissertation (Schönbrunn), master or bachelor thesis (BOKU).

The practicing Austrian research institutions (with focus on vegetable cultivation) in Schönbrunn and Wies act as important interfaces between the relevant parties (e.g. coordination of cultivation trials, determination of yearly targets etc.) à synergetic effect.

·         Realize gastronomy/catering workshops and tastings for the regional and supra-regional restaurants and food businesses of interest (M1-M34).

·         Advertising of the regional vegetable delicacies at the “Koch.Campus-Workshop” at the ARCHE NOAH garden kitchen in June 2016 (M1-M5). One additional workshop will further be held in 2018 (M31-M34).

The “Koch.Campus-Workshop” can exclusively be accessed by its members, journalists, cooks and restaurant owners from the LEADER region Kamptal valley, producing farmers and graduates from regional tourism schools.

Three more tastings will be performed together with different kitchen teams from the top gastronomy (Steirereck, Hayat, Gastwirtschaft Floh). In this way the participants and professionals can discuss about the vegetable’s preparation and exchange personal experience (Krautwerk, M11-M22).

Exchange of knowledge and further training:

·         Development of skills in terms of production and marketing of vegetable delicacies as well as variety development and seed cultivation. “Field days” and training courses for the participating farm businesses will be performed (M1-M32).

·         So called “Field days” will be launched at the so called “advisory businesses” (Gärtnerhof Ochsenherz, Krautwerk). Common field surveys and professional field evaluations (guided by specialized horticulturists) on the farms in the Kamptal valley will be performed. In this way the farmers are provided with valuable knowledge and know-how on the specific cultivation methods and marketing techniques for rare vegetable varieties.

·         Workshop on seed cultivation and selection (Gärtnerhof Ochsenherz); Workshop on processing and preservation techniques for vegetables (Krautwerk); Field trips (e.g. “Visiting chervil growers”; Project meetings (M2, M10, M22, M34).

·         Presentation and discussion of the project results on a yearly basis. The meetings can also be seen as an opportunity for the mutual exchange between all project partners (collaborative learning).

·         In this way the existing knowledge and the experiences that have been made within the various project fields can be communicated efficiently and a regional network can be established. Publication of the factsheets (M23-M33).

·         Development of factsheets for practical working for a selection of vegetables.  Major topics: issues of production, storage and marketing.

·         Creation of product specification sheets for restaurants, caterers etc.

·         Creation of recipe sheets for the final consumers (“Veggie boxes”, Farmer’s markets etc.).

·         Awareness raising activities, public relation work and event management (M2-M34).


The ARCHE NOAH show garden (M2-7, M14-19, M26-31)

·         Continuous presentation of a wide variety of plants and products in the ARCHE NOAH garden-kitchen along the entire outdoor season.

·         Professional marketing within and outside of the region: Performance of workshops for and with the producers, restaurant owners/ gastronomes; Targeted media activities.

·         Performance of three workshops for the schools from the region: The workshops aim to communicate the importance of plant variability to the young generation in an understandable and illustrative way. (M20,M21,M27)

Publications (M1-M34):

·         Project folder

·         Project presentation throughout “ARCHE NOAH” communication media (via our newsletter and the magazine we can address and inform about 200.000 people)

·         Project presentation in professional Austrian journals (Gärtnerrundbrief, Bio-Gemüsefibel, BioAustria Zeitung, etc.)
·         Detailed project presentation and further publication of the project’s major results via the ARCHE NOAH website The production factsheets, product specification sheets and the recipe sheets will be published on the website as well.

A final project structure plan will be elaborated for submission.