The Seed of an Idea

Generally I begin my year in farm photography once the growing season has gained some momentum, fruit trees have started into bloom and asparagus stalks are lancing through their straw strewn beds. But this year I decided to switch things up realizing that my farm-photo storytelling was missing a key moment in the annual growth cycle - namely, the beginning - The Seeds

Really what prompted this interest was listening to an inspiring podcast about the great global seed bank on Svelbard - a frozen underground facility storing over 10,000 seed samples and designed to help us re-boot the world should nefarious or "natural" disasters wreak doomsday proportioned catastrophe upon our botanical world. I was hooked and wanted to explore how our local seeds were being stored, cultivated and exchanged.


I began my seed quest with Lee Carlton of Goldenrod Gardens in a greenhouse perched on the back of Beech Mountain. Like many farmers and gardeners she had a generous heap of seed catalogs lining tables for inspiration.

And her own seed vault filled with tried and tested cultivars.

Some seeds of course are culled from a previous year's harvest like these miniature indian corn cobs that Lee uses in her beautiful ornamental wreaths.

Lee carefully plucks each kernel from the cob at the root in order to keep them in tact for planting.

I love the way these gold and bronze colored kernels looked against the patina-ed copper basinet.

Lee then showed me a number of other forms of seed collected from the previous year's harvest like these Scarlet Runner beans.

I was amazed at how these Bottle Gourd seeds resembled a crusty sour dough loaf when I trained my macro lense on one up close.

And these Zinnia - the seeds are the green bits mixed in with the colorful dried petals.

Up close they look like little arrowheads.

Dill seeds.

Or these "Ruby Moon" Hyacinth Vine seeds.

Lee was working on a number of starter tray projects in the greenhouse.


A tray of baby Chard.

I had no idea about the delicate process of switching between starter trays. Here Lee is transplanting from a toddler to kindergarten sized tray.

I had to include this image too as I loved seeing these young Delphinium shoots peering from a wonderfully geometric tray.

Rain pattered on the greenhouse roof as Lee continued to organize and label the various sproutlings.

I am extremely grateful to Lee for showing her seed collection and starter greenhouse to illustrate the beginning of one local farmer's year.

Look out for Goldenrod Gardens at the Watauga County Farmers Market which re-opens Saturday, May 2.