All about Mandy Barber and Julien Skinner – the Incredible Vegetables team!
Perennial vegetable growing on Dartmoor with Incredible Vegetables
Incredible Vegetables is an experimental vegetable growing project and a research space dedicated to useful perennial edibles and future food crops and a perennial vegetable nursery set up and managed by Mandy Barber and Julien Skinner. The polyculture space includes a biodiverse mixture of perennials, self sowing annuals and plants for pollinators. Over the last ten years it has evolved into a significant botanical reserve of important perennial food crops, protecting them for the future, many of which we will all need to rely on in years to come. We undertake small plant breeding projects, for example with perennial Nine Star broccoli and a Hopniss (Apios americana) trial currently underway.
The research we are doing is absolutely essential. Mixed plantings of perennial crops and woody shrubs not only safeguard and enrich soil ecosystems, but help to draw down and store carbon from the atmosphere, a vital function to help combat climate change.
Buy perennial vegetable plants & seeds from our shop
We raise perennial vegetable plants, seeds and edible tubers for sale in our online shop. We use organic no-dig methods and practice permaculture principles. As a team of two people, we are only able to grow limited quantities of plants for sale, but every year we diversify our plant stocks and what we are able to offer. We aim to provide perennial vegetables to gardeners and growers that are difficult to source in the UK that will allow people to start off their own perennial vegetable garden. Currently we are growing many perennials to produce our own seed stock for rare perennial edible plants.
Our customers include agro-forestry projects, keen permaculturists and home gardeners. Income from our plant sales is invested in our perennial crop research which we do without any funding, extending our perennial vegetable nursery as well as sourcing new edible perennial varieties to grow. Your purchase enables us to carry on our vital work and to teach others about what we do.
We use 100% compostable and recyclable packaging – cardboard, re-purposed newspaper, plant based bags and paper packing tape. Wherever possible we send plants bare rooted to avoid sending any plastic plant pots to customers.
Talks & Events
We give talks about growing perennial vegetables at permaculture and garden festivals, conferences as well as small groups and transition town networks. We also teach horticulture students about perennial vegetable growing and have links with School Farm CSA and Schumacher College in Dartington, Devon.
“You are right, perennial kale is fantastic! Thanks so much for the cuttings. I am a convert to having a corner of perpetual kale in the patch!”
“As the evening sun back lit the plants at Incredible Vegetables, I felt I was standing in one of the most important gardens of our time. Wildflowers working alongside an abundance of edimentals and perennial vegetables. A ‘food glade’ to rival the aesthetic of our greatest plant designers.”
– Jon Davies, garden designer, London Glades –
“I love your website and the work you’re doing. What you’re doing is exiting, useful, and one day will help to replace and enhance what human kind has damaged.With that our natural friends will return and we’ll be better for it.”
“Mandy, thank you. I am delighted with this plant – it is so strong and healthy and exceptionally well packaged – all done with loving care obviously. I shall look forward to having more plants from you.”
“Plants all arrived lovely and are growing well. I just wanted to say i was very impressed with the quality of the cuttings.. and its been a pleasure dealing with you. And I look forward to any purchases in the future.”
“The kale cuttings you sent survived the winter and are thriving. Thank you Mandy Barber you are the super hero of edibles, loving your work!!”
“I bought some Skirret seed’s off you last year. Well they grew and yesterday some got cooked and this message is just to say, they were delicious. Looking forward to a lot more next year. Thank you.”
“The Taunton Dean cuttings arrived a short while ago and never have I seen healthier looking cuttings! They are now firmly ensconced in some nice compost and are having a good drink. I even loved the packaging, which will be composted.”
“Hi I just wanted to let you know that I sowed half of my Caucasian spinach seeds and every single one grew, absolutely amazed, thanks for the seeds and keep up the good work.”
“Just to let you know that the lovely healthy looking plants arrived. Your plants are simply outstanding, every single tuber and plant are growing amazingly.”
“The plants arrived safely, I did not expect such magnificent specimens! I didn’t think I would be successful at stratification etc but I now have a whole bunch of Hablitzia seedlings sprouting after following your excellent advice.”
“Just to say, the Daubentons Kale is in the ground and looking well – thanks to the lovely damp compost encasing its roots…you do a good job at your end, I can tell by the way you package. Will be back for more of your wonderful perennials.”
“Thank you so much for all the vegetables, they really are incredible. I’m sure I’ve never before seen a healthier rootball than the one that arrived with our happy looking daubentons kale, and seeds and tubers are thriving thanks to all the useful information provided.”
“Thank you so much for sending such wonderful, healthy and very large plants. They are beautiful !! You packaged them so well and they arrived so quickly – I couldn’t get to the post office till the following day but they were absolutely fine. They’re now potted up and sitting in my ‘cold’ greenhouse while they adjust. ”
“Thanks for everything, the info sheet was great. I planted the cuttings the day they arrived and have just multi sown the 9 star in seed trays. All very exciting, we’re now planning our perennial area.”
Incredible Vegetables is based on a 5.5 acre field on the edge of Dartmoor. The land is collectively owned by a small group of growers. Ten years ago it was non-diverse sheep pasture. Today, between us, we have an acre of polyculture vegetable garden, an evolving meadow, 2000 native trees and an acre of forest garden. The field is awash with diverse species of insects, birds and other creatures. We have introduced small areas of water to attract frogs and toads and sown many native wildflowers and plants for pollinators. Many of the edible perennials we grow double up as plants for pollinators and wildlife. It has been amazing to see how a polyculture develops over time, it has been a process of part design, but mostly letting go, allowing the plants to find their own spaces. This creates something quite beautiful and attracts all kinds of life, a big lesson in just letting things be.
‘Incredible Vegetable’s productive paradise on what was previously sheep pasture in the hills of Devon is one of the most inspirational places I’ve visited. Gazing over the surrounding countryside of monotonous fields as far as the eye could see, I remember imagining a future climate friendly polyculture in a place one wouldn’t think it possible!’
Stephen Barstow, Author of ‘Around the World in 80 Plants’