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Heritage Seeds: Tradition in Farming

Ranelle and Emily

We recently visited one of our vendors, Kasper Creek Farm. Along our tour, I asked Ranelle Kasper, “why do you do what you do?”

Throughout the farm tour, Ranelle spoke of her mother, the woman who inspired her to farm, and her family history in farming.

At one point in the tour, Ranelle took us down into the cellar. There, we discovered rows of mason jars filled with the reds, greens, and purples from jarred tomatoes, pickles, jams, and jellies.

Amidst the stocked shelves, Ranelle reached for one jar in particular, which seemed to have a special significance.

She unscrewed the lid of this mason jar and pulled out an aged and yellowed cloth. The cloth looked brittle, and had many dark speckles on it. Ranelle then explained to us the significance of these extraordinary “speckles” which were actually seeds called hillbilly tomato seeds. These old tomato seeds were once a gift from her mother thirty years ago. Ranelle explained how seed drying on a cloth was one common way farmers used to collect seeds for planting. Even today drying seeds at home from tomatoes in your garden, for many people, proves to be a more affordable alternative than store-bought seeds.

At one point, Ranelle told us about the time she tried to “revive” the seeds to see if she could grow a plant that was once her mother’s. Unfortunately, the seeds have reached their expiration and could not be grown successfully.

While the seeds in Ranelle’s mason jar may never grow into plants prolific of hillbilly tomatoes, they perhaps hold a more powerful significance, nonetheless. These “heritage seeds” continually serve Ranelle a reminder of her childhood – the times spent on her mother’s farm – a time for her when farming was a necessity. To Ranelle, the seeds are her motivation to “do what she does,” and they represent a tradition in farming that she now upholds on her own farm, Kasper Creek. 

Posted by Emily