Slow Food England Person of the Year

Created six years ago, the Slow Food awards are chosen by a public vote and in addition each national director chooses their Person of the Year. The 2019 Person of the Year for England is Paolo Arrigo of Seeds of Italy and Franchi Seeds. ‘It was Paolo's vision to build the silver medal-winning Ark of Taste Garden at Hampton Court Flower Show, and it is his philosophy to embed Slow Food values in all he does. The only seed company to attend Terra Madre, the only seed company endorsed by Slow Food as one of the last commercial custodians of a number of Ark seeds, and a huge supporter of school and community gardens’.

Paolo explains that ‘Franchi are still the only seed brand to have exhibited at the Slow Food Show in Turin with hundreds of thousands of visitors and 40% of them don’t speak a word of Italian so much so that I speak English there the entire week. In fact, we have done Salone del Gusto / Terra Madre three times over six years and amazingly despite there being a whole seed section there, have still been the only seed brand!

‘People never think about the provenance of seed when talking about food. Take the San Marzano tomato. They were grown by hand, picked by hand and canned by hand, but because the original varieties had very thin skin (and superb flavour), they cannot be harvested mechanically so new modern varieties are being used and the original varieties are on the Slow Food list of endangered veg, the ark of taste. It is so sad but this biodiversity is teetering on the edge of being lost forever. Some goes naturally, but to lose 94% in just a century ….’