Photo: Pussreboots/Flickr.Gran. Blue jay cracking open a ground nut snack. Ground nuts are another name for peanuts.

BEAUSECOUR, Carriacou–September 26th, 2020–The Agriculture Division in the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs & Local Government has issued a press release to inform the public that a Chinese Agricultural Mission will visit Carriacou on Thursday October 1, 2020.

The Mission is to provide free training for farmers and gardeners in Groundnut Cultivation.

The Division is appealing to all farmers and gardeners in Carriacou to capitalize on the opportunity, and would like as many people as possible to show up to learn how to grow ‘groundnuts’.

But what are groundnuts? The term is commonly used as an alternative name for peanuts, so that is most probably what it is all about, but there are other types of groundnuts that are used for food.

Groundnuts were a staple Native American food which they taught the early European colonists how to use. That other groundnut is not actually a nut, being a climbing vine that is a member of the pea or bean family (Leguminosae) and distantly related to the soybean.

It can be found from Ontario and Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the western prairies to the Atlantic coastline. Groundnuts, Apios americana, get their name from the bulb-like tubers that grow from the root system. They may be tiny, the size of a pine nut, to as big as an avocado.

The outsides of growing groundnuts are brown while their interior, once peeled, is firm and white. The plant itself has pinnate compound leaves with 5-7 leaflets. Vine-like, the plant twines around the shrubs and plants of the forest.

Early settlers in Western Massachusetts considered groundnuts so economically important that the town of Southampton enacted a law prohibiting Native Americans from digging them on lands owned by the colonists.

The first offense was time in the stocks, and the second offense, in case the offender did not quite get the message, was punishable by whipping.

Groundnuts can be eaten raw but are usually boiled or roasted and then added to soups and stews. Mild in flavor, they are used much like a potato, though more nutritious. They contain three times the protein of a potato. They can also be stored much like potatoes in a cool, dry area for a lengthy period of time.

Which type of ground nut will the Chinese experts be teaching about? Just show up in Carriacou on October 1st, and all will be revealed.

Meantime the Facebook page of the Chinese Agricultural Mission in Grenada may be seen there.