Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 38

GEORGIA Gardens

By Helen Newling Lawson

Seeds with a history
The seed-saving movement
takes gardeners back to basics

COURTESY UNIVERSI
OF NORTH GEORGI TY
A

ISTOCK.COM / CHRISTIAN MEYER DESIGN

A

growing number of visitors are coming to
the Hickory Flat Library in Canton with no
intention of checking out a book. They are
there to borrow from the seed library.
This community resource, a project of the Cherokee County Master Gardeners, localizes the work of
national seed-saving organizations like Iowa-based
Seed Savers Exchange to preserve and prolong the
legacy of heirloom vegetables.
Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated-meaning that their seeds will produce plants with most of
the characteristics of the parent plant.
The idea of exchanging heirloom seeds has
proven so popular that two more seed libraries have
opened recently in Cherokee County-at the Rose
Creek Public Library in Woodstock and the Ball
Ground Public Library in Ball Ground. These new
seed-sharing programs join others hosted at libraries
throughout the state, including the Gilmer County
Library in Ellijay, the Jefferson Public Library in Athens and the Perry Branch Library in Perry.

Continued on page 40

38

Georgia Magazine

May 2020

COURTESY HICKOR

A basic principle of libraries is that you return
what you check out. Similarly, many seed libraries
ask participants to grow their plants to maturity,
collect new seeds and donate them back to the
collection.
Through projects like these, tiny seeds grow into
bigger discussions about sustainability, heritage,
conservation and biodiversity. But for families that
have handed seeds down for generations, the conversation is much more personal.
Becky Griffin of Holly Springs feared she would
be the last of her family to grow the Jonah bean,
a variety that can be traced back at least as far as
her great-great-grandmother. Like many heirloom
varieties, Griffin's bean is better-tasting and better
adapted to the local climate than modern versions
bred for mass production and long-distance
shipping.

Y FLAT LIBRARY

From tiny seeds, big programs grow

Top: The University of North Georgia's (UNG) Center for Appalachian Studies preserves the area's heirloom seeds and oral history through the Saving Appalachian
Gardens and Stories (SAGAS) project. UNG students Merritt Hammock (left) and
Kennedi Horn harvest lettuce in the SAGAS demonstration garden's greenhouse.
Above: From left, Librarian Rhonda Broome, Master Gardener Gerald Phillips,
Cherokee County Extension agent Josh Fuder, Librarian Deborah Johnson and
Master Gardeners Lynn Knotts and Susan Franklin show off the new seed library
at Canton's Hickory Flat Library.



Georgia Magazine - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - May 2020

Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 4
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