Widely used to add flavor to all sorts of delicious dishes in many different cultures, the onion is thought to be one of the oldest cultivated plants. Hunter-gatherer societies probably harvested and transported onions long before our ancestors started farming them. I imagine they would have been ecstatic to stumble across the onion grown in the SWS garden this summer. Our ancestors across the earth enjoyed the many wonderful properties of onions; they are easy to grow, transport, store, and preserve. Those juicy onions could quench your thirst and cure ailments like earaches, warts, and the common cold. The ancient Greeks drank onion juice, ate pounds of onions, and rubbed them all over their bodies before competing in the Olympic Games. Surely, this strategy would help a present day Olympic athlete win a gold medal.
While athletes were participating in the Olympic games in Tokyo this past summer, one onion in the SWS garden was doing its best to win a medal for being the largest onion ever grown in the school garden! Our onion tipped the scales at three pounds and the third graders drew signs and made cards for our large onion display in the school foyer. Our onion was a variety called Ailsa Craig. This heirloom variety was brought to the USA from the British Isles in 1887 and can grow very large, sometimes as big as volleyballs, making it a family-sized blooming onion.
Dr. Charlotte Rasmussen
Environmental Sustainability and Gardening Program