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Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste

Heirloom Seed Savers in Appalachia

Bill Best

Publication Year: 2013

The Brown Goose, the White Case Knife, Ora’s Speckled Bean, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter — these are just a few of the heirloom fruits and vegetables you’ll encounter in Bill Best’s remarkable history of seed saving and the people who preserve both unique flavors and the Appalachian culture associated with them. As one of the people at the forefront of seed saving and trading for over fifty years, Best has helped preserve numerous varieties of beans, tomatoes, corn, squashes, and other fruits and vegetables, along with the family stories and experiences that are a fundamental part of this world. While corporate agriculture privileges a few flavorless but hardy varieties of daily vegetables, seed savers have worked tirelessly to preserve genetic diversity and the flavors rooted in the Southern Appalachian Mountains — referred to by plant scientists as one of the vegetative wonders of the world.

Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste will introduce readers to the cultural traditions associated with seed saving, as well as the remarkable people who have used grafting practices and hand-by-hand trading to keep alive varieties that would otherwise have been lost. As local efforts to preserve heirloom seeds have become part of a growing national food movement, Appalachian seed savers play a crucial role in providing alternatives to large-scale agriculture and corporate food culture. Part flavor guide, part people’s history, Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste will introduce you to a world you’ve never known — or perhaps remind you of one you remember well from your childhood.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-xiv

...involving her college course “Botany and Botanical Arts.” in an “mystery” seeds that they were challenged to cultivate, observe, greenhouse who was at a loss over how much to water the plants; human civilization! Planting a seed—horticulture—prompted our early ancestors to abandon a nomadic life of foraging to take up ...

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pp. xv-xvi

...years ago in 1911, at the time of her death in 1994, just four weeks before her eighty-third birthday, she was still busy trading Having said frequently that she would wear out rather than rust out, Mother had kept gardening as long as possible, always saving seeds for the next season and making sure she had plenty to share....

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pp. xvii-21

A few years ago, savers of heirloom seeds were thought to be a little bit eccentric or worse. After all, everyone knew that the America’s gardeners and maintaining an abundance of varieties Gardening fell out of favor with many Americans as “super” markets made available more selections than most people had ever ...

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An Introduction to Heritage and Heirloom Seed Saving

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pp. 1-15

...bean seeds in its craw as she was dressing it for a meal. the beans were planted, grew to maturity, had a good Xavor, and became one sentially the same tale was also told about the turkey Craw Bean: a wild turkey had been shot for food, bean seeds were found in its sometimes just called the turkey Bean. Both beans are among the ...

Part One: Heritage and Heirloom Seeds

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pp. 16-33

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pp. 18-74

...pyramids. When kept in airtight jars, they have been found to be many Indian tribes, who saw them as the three sisters, for their growth habits were symbiotic, with the cornstalks providing support for the beans; the beans providing nitrogen for the corn, winter squash, and pumpkins; and the squash and pumpkins providing ...

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pp. 75-94

Unullnulle nullanull , tomatoes were not particularly prominent historically in the diet of southern Appalachian people. Harriette Arnow, in her splendid book Seedtime on the Cumberland, discusses beans on 15 pages of her 449-page book. she goes into great detail worth with respect to other foods commonly grown by the settlers ...

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pp. 95-104

...was born and raised, we had our favorite apple varieties, which in-cluded the June Apple, Northern spy, Yellow transparent, Winter Banana, and Horse Apple. We also had numerous sweet apples that grafted. still, the nameless varieties were good for drying and other, was the earliest and smallest, and we always ate them fresh. ...

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pp. 105-113

...mill to have corn ground into cornmeal. the mill was several miles downstream from our house after several creeks had run together grind corn. the elevation of the land at that point was suitable to locate the mill: the raceway where the water ran lost altitude the mill owner would take his pay by keeping a portion of the meal ...

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Candy Roasters

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pp. 114-115

...for jack-o’-lanterns and sometimes for cattle feed, but few grew it has a sweet Xavor and is used for making pies, candy roaster butter, and candy roaster breads and can be used in combination have originated with the Cherokees, and can weigh more than fiffty pounds. With the advent of refrigeration, portions are now often ...

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pp. 116-120

...are somewhat whitish and very tender. they can be eaten without of Zirconia, North Carolina, about his great-grandmother Rosie These little white pickler-type cucumber seeds were passed down after the Civil War. She in turn saved the seeds and passed them seeds were planted in “hills” or small mounds, usually Wve or six ...

Part Two: Seed Savers

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pp. 121-143

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Seeds, Family, Community, and Traditions

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pp. 123-129

...electric light. it is mostly underground, so the temperature is fairly constant, and with the light oV, it is quite dark. there one can still far back as the 1970s, still looking as though they were canned dur-ing the past summer. And until recently her freezer still contained traditions die slowly, and the canning traditions of the south-...

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Keepers and Distributors of the Seeds

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pp. 130-189

...to the thousands of individuals in the southern Appalachians who dutifully plant, tend, harvest, eat, preserve, and save seeds of the heirloom and heritage varieties of vegetables, grains, and fruits of the region, there are many who have our edible plant genetic heritage for future generations. the fol-...

For Further Reading

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pp. 191-192

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444627
E-ISBN-10: 082144462X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821420492
Print-ISBN-10: 0821420496

Page Count: 220
Illustrations: yes, photographs
Publication Year: 2013