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Seed Swap Recap

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 October 2013 at 11:12

For those of you who couldn't attend the annual seed swap at the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center, you missed a real winner.

Although there were only ten formal traders, i.e., those who set up on tables, there were innumerable informal swaps, trades, and give aways. Literally hundreds of heirloom vegetable varieties changed hands.

Just guessing from the crowds that passed our table, I'd say at least 150 people attended. They came from at least eleven states, and from as far away as New York and Wisconsin.

Some of the highlights, in no particular order:

Bill Best, SMAC Honcho, had copies of his long awaited book, "Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste" on hand. I'm about ¾ through mine, and it’s a must have for anyone interested in southern Appalachian heirlooms in general, and beans in particular. Published by Ohio University Press, signed copies are available from the SMAC website (http://heirlooms.org). Go to the What’s New section, and look at the May entry for details. And while you’re there, check out the selection of heirloom bean and tomato seeds.

Speaking of books, Friend Wife and my books on colonial cookery went over very well. There’s a lot of interest in old-time cooking, so our “A Colonial Virginia Book of Cookery,” and “A Colonial Virginia Book of Cookery Second Table” appealed to many attendees, who went home with copies. If you’re interested in one or both of them, let me know at historicfoodways@hotmail.com and I’ll send you the details.

Renewing the old AHSC (Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy) group cook-out idea, I grilled burgers and chicken for former members. That, along with pass along dishes, was a real hit. In fact, many of the other attendees wanted to participate, and, had I been prepared to do so, I could have sold food quite successfully.

Rodger Winn, a former AHSC member, brought the belle of the ball. He recently tracked down what had thought to have been an extinct watermelon variety. Called “Bradshaw” after the family that’s grown it for eight generations, it’s an incredibly sweet, white-seeded melon. Rodger will be carrying on the breeding of this superb watermelon, and will be offering seed once he’s built up stock. BTW, if you’re looking for an event to attend in the summer, check out Rodger’s annual tomato tasting.

Most of all there was the exchange of information. This has been a hallmark of this event as well as its AHSC predecessor. As important as the seeds were the numerous discussions about varieties, and culturing, and pest control, and….well, you get the idea. What we had was a free-wheeling, living encyclopedia of heirlooms growing. Whether you were a rank beginner or an old hand, if you didn’t learn something of value then you just weren’t paying attention.

The SMAC seed swap is held the first Saturday in October each year. If you have any interest in growing heirloom veggies, you really should plan on attending.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 October 2013 at 11:28
Sounds like a great time was had by all, Brook - the more I get my feet wet where gardening is concerned, the more I am a believer in the "heirloom revolution," not out of any snobbery, but ebcause it seems, to me, the best way to get the best produce. Along with that, it appeals to the historian in me....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 October 2013 at 23:47
Brook Book! ().()
Yeppers - I am emailing right now!

Sounds like a wonderful festival Brook, where can I see photos please?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 October 2013 at 00:36
Anne, I just responded to your email.

As per photos, I dunno if anyone will be posting them. Sorry.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 October 2013 at 00:41
There is one problem with heirlooms, Ron. Now that they've become mainstream lots of people who don't understand them have jumped on the bandwagon. As a result, just as with organics, you hear a lot of claims being made that are falacious at best. 

The fact is, there are hybrids that, when grown properly, are just as flavorful as the typical heirloom. And there are heirlooms whose taste leaves much to be desired. 

Basically, however, heirlooms bring two things to the table: superb flavor, and the safety that comes to the food supply through biodiversity. Plus, of course, the wonderful stories that attach to so many of them. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 October 2013 at 00:55
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Plus, of course, the wonderful stories that attach to so many of them. 

------dons, nostalgic-staring-into-the- fire-eyes---------

Yessir, that is the truth - cold, stale porridge would taste great with good friends at a friendly hearth.
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