Preserving Our Roots: Saving Seeds and Farm Heritage

Saturday, Sep. 21st: 1:30 - 2:30 pm Festival Tent John Coykendall
Included with Admission

Back in the days when John Coykendall should have been paying attention in school, he was instead looking out the window and sketching pictures. “Art and gardening are blurred together for me.” Coykendall shares. “I can’t tell where one stops and the other begins.”

The Blackberry Farm master gardener is also a master storyteller. Take a journey with Coykendall, with seeds starring as the main characters. Representing so much more than the potential to sustain human beings as food, Coykendall shares that seeds embody the living history of the people who cared for and tended to them. Learn how our ancestors grew, prepared and safeguarded seeds, and how they shared and served them at the table.

Attendees will learn how to save seeds and document their stories as a way of passing down family and farming heritage. The classically trained artist will share a selection of his own journals and sketchbooks, which beautifully chronicle seeds and the crops they yield, as well as narratives of the struggles and joys of tending the garden, travels and dreams.

John Coykendall

Master Gardener, Blackberry Farm
John Coykendall

For nearly twenty years, John Coykendall has been the man behind the rows of heirloom tomatoes, beans, and corn at Blackberry Farm, the lavish epicurean resort in Walland, Tennessee. The seasoned master gardener and Tennessee native is a classically-trained artist who draws inspiration—literally – in more than a hundred sketchbooks from his explorations across Europe, the South, and southeastern Louisiana, where he has traveled each year for more than four decades.  Through painstakingly-recorded journals, Coykendall chronicles oral histories about farm life in an earlier generation, logs searches for rare seeds, and creates illustrations of the pastoral landscape in which he works.

Coykendall has collected not only great secrets for growing, but also seeds from the most successful gardens in the world. In his presentations, he imparts the knowledge learned from decades in the garden, and shares some of his collection of centuries-old heirloom seeds. He is the subject of the public television documentary, Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall’s Journey to Save Our Seeds and Stories.