Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall's Journey to Save Our Seeds and Stories Previous Broadcasts

KQED Plus: Fri, Nov 17, 2017 -- 11:00 AM

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. The documentary 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. A Tennessee native, the 73-year-old Coykendall is a true Renaissance man and a celebrity in a growing movement that places a premium on farm-to-table cuisine and locally sourced, organic and heirloom food. He is a classically trained artist who studied at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida, and worked as an instructor at the the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He is also well-known for his sketches of the pastoral landscape in which he works. 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.

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