Dr. Walton Summer

Walton Sumner is a family physician and health services researcher, currently experimenting with low cost, highly sustainable farming on a small farm in Missouri, USA. Areas of active interest include restoring trace mineral content of played-out soil using compost made from waste leaves and spent coffee grounds; trace mineral retention, water conservation, and waterway protection; lodge-resistant amaranth varieties and planting techniques; amaranth pest management; amaranth companion crops; small scale seed harvesting and processing methods; and biochar generation from amaranth chaff. The neighbor’s cat is assisting with pest management.

Dr. Sumner has diverse public health and clinical interests, including various nutrition topics such as obesity prevention and management, and food security. Achieving nutritious, affordable, and local food security will be important if the crowded world gets hot, dry, or short on affordable fossil fuels. Amaranth and related plants have unusual potential for addressing these challenges. Amaranth is a relatively drought tolerant annual, grows well in heat, and produces nutritious leaves and seeds that require little processing. Amaranth plants can produce useful amounts of food at scales from single large pots to big farms. A few varieties are especially promising for home and community gardens: these permit repeated manual leaf and seed harvesting. The most particular eaters around almost always enjoy popped amaranth. The plant once supported large indigenous communities from Central America to the North American southwest. Although the amaranth renaissance that has been expected since the 1970’s has yet to begin, this genus remains as promising and relevant as ever to health and nutrition.