‘In Praise of Plants’ is a project to record varied rituals and celebrations involving food plants throughout the year
– from the giant leek championships of northern England to the ancient, deeply spiritual ceremonies held across Asia or the Andes in honour of potatoes and maize to celebrate the harvesting of rice; from Germany's Onion festival to Mexico’s ‘Night of the Radishes’ - as a means of exploring both what these plants mean to the people who grow or use them and what factors are affecting their cultivation or availability today.

Using each celebration as a starting point, 'In Praise of Plants' aims to record local people’s stories, the wider cultural and economic background of each plant’s use as well as any threats it may be facing today.

Though a large number of food plant festivals have a distinctly commercial feel or may involve produce grown or brought in from elsewhere, many still reflect a deep pride and passion felt by people for plants that have been grown locally for many generations in particular regions.

I travelled In October 2019 to Sicily to the Sagra della Mostarda e del Fico d’India, a celebration of the prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) grown in the region of Militello in Val di Catania.

You can read here about the Prickly Pear Festival.

The photos on this page were taken in October 2019.

Francesco Le Favi Prickly Pears (Opuntia)
Prickly Pear expert and grower Dr. Francesco Le Favi
Notice of Sagra della Mostarda e del Ficod'india 2019 Millitello from the Church of the Calvary
Azzenda of Francesco la Favi Prickly Pear plants on Francesco's azzenda
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Illuminations before festival w
Anna eating Mostarda with two women from Militello Horse parade at the sagra
Horse parade at the sagra Horse parade at the sagra