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.