Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 40
and history. Students interviewed residents of the surrounding area
to create an artistic representation of their seed-growing traditions.
Rosann Kent, director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at
UNG, remembers her students asking, "Why can't we eat these heirloom varieties?" The next phase of the project developed from there,
with students planting and sharing seeds from their own demonstration garden.
The SAGAS project also documents cultural history by interviewing seed donors about the gardening traditions and foodways of
Southern Appalachia. UNG students believe that these reminiscences are as important to preserve as the genetic diversity of seeds.
Students at the University of North Georgia created this
oilcloth storyteller quilt to preserve the wisdom of local
elders who shared seeds for crops like okra, tomatoes and
Continued from page 38
"My bean seed was given to me by my aunt
Tillie," Griffin says. "She received them from her
mother, who got them from her mother and so on.
My Jonah beans are more of a bush bean than a pole
bean. I generally grow enough for my family to enjoy
and to put up a few canned jars. Of course, I save
seed year to year."
Growing, saving, sharing
Seed Savers Exchange came to the Jonah bean's
rescue. The nonprofit network that collects, produces and sells heirloom seeds made the variety
available through its catalog to gardeners nationwide. Griffin was so grateful for help in keeping her
family's legacy alive that she framed the catalog
listing and hung it on her wall.
Students at the University of North Georgia
(UNG) in Dahlonega have been working to preserve
seeds and stories like Griffin's through their Saving
Appalachian Gardens and Stories (SAGAS) project,
a multidisciplinary effort that combines art, biology
Even if you are the first person in your family to grow vegetables,
you can reap the benefits of seed-saving. Josh Fuder, cooperative Extension agent for Cherokee County, advises that you should not use
hybrid varieties (sometimes labeled "F1") for seed-saving.
"Hybrids, which are crosses of different varieties, produce seeds
that revert to characteristics of one of their parents," Fuder says.
"Instead, look for seeds described as 'heirloom' or 'open-pollinated.'
Collect seeds from multiple, healthy plants to keep the gene pool
Just as growing requirements vary from plant to plant, the process for collecting seeds is different for each vegetable. There are two
basic seed-collecting methods: wet and dry.
The seeds of dry vegetables are considered easier to collect.
Beans, which fall into this category, are often suggested for first-time
seed collectors, as their seeds can be left to dry in the pod.
Wet vegetables include tomatoes and cucumbers. Some have
seeds that can be saved at the same time the vegetable is harvested for eating. Others must be left on the plant for as long as a month to ripen.
To keep seeds from sprouting or spoiling before the next planting season, store them in a dry, dark and cool place. An airtight container in the
refrigerator works well in most cases. Consult the resources listed below for
in-depth information about saving and growing seeds from specific
varieties of plants.
As Griffin points out, we keep the heritage of seeds alive by growing
them. Joining the tradition lets you add your own chapter to the seedsaving story.
Helen Newling Lawson is a freelance writer and Master Gardener in
University of Georgia Extension Bulletin 1486, "Variety Selection
and Seed Saving for Organic Growers," bit.ly/ugaseed.
Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, Iowa. (563) 382-5990.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Mineral, Va. (540) 894-9480.
Renee's Garden, Felton, Calif. (888) 880-7228. reneesgarden.com.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Petaluma, Calif. (707) 773-1336.
For a list of seed-sharing libraries around the state, the country and the
world, visit bit.ly/seedex.
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COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF NORTH GEORGIA
Georgia Magazine - May 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - May 2020
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
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 5
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 6
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 7
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - 8
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Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - May 2020 - Cover4