| The Southern Seed Legacy (SSL)
originated in response to the notable absence of the American South in
the nation-wide grassroots effort to save heirloom seeds. What is
an heirloom seed? Also known as landraces, folk, traditional or indigenous
varieties, heirlooms have been defined in the journal Theoretical Genetics
as "geographically or ecologically distinctive populations which are conspicuously
diverse in their genetic composition both between populations and and within
them individually" (Brown 1978).
During the research phase, the project uncovered active and viable seed saving networks (both of individuals and organizations) throughout most areas of the South. This was especially true of southern varieties of vegetable, fruit, ornamental, and other useful domesticated plants. The SSL seed bank holds approximately 300 seed sample accessions of nearly as many different named varieties collected in our field research or donated by SSL members. We are discovering through our memory banking research that many of these heirloom seeds and plants serve as artifacts of larger cultural expressions (cuisine, folklore, community values, social customs), that they serve as connections to ancestry, identity, and what it means to be Southern in a globalizing world. The aim of this project has been to collect, record, and disseminate this legacy of knowledge providing a resource for all Southerners to draw on for business or pleasure.
Southern seed legacy photo gallery
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