Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall's Journey to Save Our Seeds and Stories
About This Episode
For more than 40 years, John Coykendall — a renowned seed saver, classically trained artist and a master gardener at Blackberry Farm resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee — has been preserving the seeds, traditions, oral histories and foodways of a small rural farming community in Louisiana. Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall's Journey to Save Our Seeds and Stories chronicles how Coykendall has tracked down and safeguarded rare and heirloom varieties of crops historically grown in the region and safely returned them to the descendants of farmers who described them to him decades earlier.
Since 1973, he has been visiting Washington Parish, Louisiana, illustrating and documenting the oral histories, farming techniques, and folk tales of elderly farmers and backyard gardeners in volumes of moleskin notebooks detailing an agricultural way of life that is at risk of loss across our nation. Using a mix of historical photographs of the region and its residents, the film traces his work and time spent in the Parish. Through his deeds, John hopes to inspire others to view these rare seeds and stories as grounding us to the earth and rooting us both to our past and our future.