Southern Foodways: Southern Seed Legacy
Southern Foodways appears on Fridays as part of our collaboration with the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization based in Oxford, Mississippi, that "documents and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the American South." Dig in!
It's cold today and snowing (or about to snow) here in Mississippi. We don't get snow that often. In fact, if this forecast becomes reality it will be the first real snow Oxford has seen in five or six years. Truth be told, I'd enjoy a little snow, sort of.
The Ole Miss students are heading out of town for spring break. March Madness is upon us. My yard is full of daffodils. The tulip trees have bloomed and the rest of the trees aren't far behind. And, just yesterday I bought my first seed packet. So forgive me if I can't get completely happy about the snow. I'm ready for spring. I'm ready for a garden.
If you've been flipping longingly through seed catalogues; if you already have some tomatoes growing in your sunroom or on your window sill; if you got completely optimistic and went ahead and planted a little lettuce, then you're probably ready too.
Here's a little something to keep you warm while winter sends its last (hopefully) shot across the bow. The folks at the University of Georgia through a project called Southern Seed Legacy are saving seeds and banking memories. Visit them and learn about all sorts of heirloom fruits and vegetables. Be sure to linger over the oral histories of the men and women who have been planting these seeds and harvesting their bounty for generations.
Also, if you're into that sort of thing, they've got tons of tantalizing pictures of plants in bloom. Gardening pornography if you will, all the bugs and rot and weeds airbrushed out with perfect dream worthy fruits and vegetables left behind.
So, curl up with your computer and dream. Maybe next week it will warm up and you'll be able to start digging and planting.
About the author: Melissa Booth Hall, a Southern Foodways Alliance staff member, grew up in Middlesboro, Kentucky, just a few hundred yards from the Cumberland Gap. Her culinary education began at age four, when she was allowed to stand on a chair in front of a gas stove and make fried pies. She has Centre College and Chase College of Law to thank for her everything-else education. A lawyer by training, she recently figured out a way to turn her passion for food into a paying job.