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Community Outdoors

Heirloom seed expert to speak in Abingdon

April 16th, 2014 8:29 am by Leslie Grace

Heirloom seed expert to speak in Abingdon

Bill Best is the president of the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, Ky.

The Washington County Public Library, Abingdon, Va., welcomes Bill Best, author of "Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste: Heirloom Seed Savers in Appalachia," Saturday, April 19 at 1 p.m., at the Southwest Virginia 4-H Center.

Best is the president of the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, Ky. He continues a way of life Appalachian farmers have handed down for generations: cultivating an appreciation for the tenderness and fresh flavor of home-grown fruits and vegetables, teaching the process of producing and saving seeds from one season to plan in the next, and engaging the support of a like-minded community. Best has collected nearly 700 heirloom varieties of beans and has an extensive collection of heirloom tomatoes as well.

A major goal for his center is to demonstrate to the people of the region that farmers have viable options to off-farm jobs when they diversify and utilize the whole farm, including woodlots. Products this region can produce can compete with large-scale farms on the basis of quality. The heirloom market is a flower-in-the-bud stage, just waiting to blossom. The center wants to use its skills and information base (developed over many decades) to bring to the forefront the importance of quality heirloom fruits and vegetables. Another goal of the center is to educate old and young alike in the appropriate techniques of seed saving, cultural practices, food preparation, food preservation and entrepreneurship.

The talk is part of the Seed Savers Library, a partnership between the library, Appalachian WildSide and other organizations. The partnership is funded by the Raymon Grace Foundation.

For more information about the library, visit or call (276) 676-6222. The Washington County Public Library is located at 205 Oak Hill St., Abingdon, Va. Its four branches are located in Damascus, Glade Spring, Hayters Gap and Mendota.

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