I've been ruminating on perennial food plants for the past few days. I'm in charge of planting the vegetable garden at Natureworks, and guess what? I haven't done it this year. I haven't been there much, and when I am there, I don't have time. But it looks ok. That's because the rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, and herbs that come up year after year. Perennial food plants. Sure, there are gaps where annual vegetables would usually go, but the garden looks ok and we get some harvest without doing anything.
And that's the key. Will your food plants come up without you doing anything? What if your main gardener gets hurt, or is too busy, or your annual vegetable seedlings die for some reason? You won't have vegetables. But if you base your garden around things that you plant once and will produce for years, you can be guaranteed to have some food.
Perennial vegetables are built for resilience. Diverse perennial vegetables are build for extra resilience because if one of them has a bad year, the others will feed you.
Just a few perennial vegetables off the top of my head:
Good King Henry (it's a leafy green)
Turkish Rocket (another leafy green. It might reseed and become invasive? I'm not sure about this one)
Fruit trees and berry bushes
Some varieties of kale and collards will overwinter in New Haven without protection and in colder climes with row cover or plastic on them. They are excellent spring greens. Later in spring they flower and go to seed, so you attract bees and then get more seed.
Cilantro and dill are not exactly perennial, but if you scatter their seeds in the fall, they will come back next year.
So, though I often get dreamy about tomato varieties, this year is reminding me how important it is to focus on food plants that will come back year after year.