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Seed saving during a pandemic: Fiore Art Center’s September resident’s journey

Margot Anne Kelly is the Fiore Art Center’s virtual literary arts resident this September. Margot is from Port Clyde, where she is involved with a local food pantry and a community garden. With the current pandemic, she has been exploring how the community garden can grow fresh food for the local food pantry. “My plan was to write about seeds and seed-saving. Then, the coronavirus demanded a pivot.” She is still writing about seeds and seed-saving, but has now included the context of viruses and plagues, which has led her down a path that includes Renaissance frescoes, Roman goddesses, some mystery seeds from China, and even heirloom melons!

Along with the research Margot has been doing throughout the month, she has also been working on an essay titled “Germ Lines”. Here is a short passage from the piece:

“Though I’ve grown vegetables for years, I never focused so closely on these details; I don’t recall knowing cotyledon could look so unlike a plant’s true leaves. But the pandemic has transformed the world’s usual dimensions, contracting space and expanding time. At high risk for getting sick, I didn’t leave home from mid-March ‘til late May. Planning, planting, and tending to seedlings was a welcome diversion during those early months. And with grocery store shelves often empty, knowing we had food stored in seed form was reassuring.

Hear more passages and learn about Margot’s work over the past month at a Virtual Studio Day on Wednesday, September 30th at 6PM.  Margot, along with Jane Brox, 2020 Fiore Art Center juror and award-winning writer,  and Roberta Bailey, a freelance writer, fiber artist, farmer and seed-saver, to explore Margot’s research and for a Q + A. Join us for this lively discussion about seed saving, writing, and more! RSVP HERE.

From left to right: The garden’s nearly done for the year. All that’s left to harvest are a couple of stalwart tomatoes, some beets, and the carrots—which I’ll leave in until we get a real frost. And, of course, the apples from these trees; Image credit: detail from the ceiling frescoes of Villa Farnesina in Rome. The Renaissance master Raphael painted the frescoes and his assistant, Giovanni da Udine painted the festoons around them. Margot learned that researches have identified over 140 varieties of heirloom varieties in paintings such as these; Beans! Angie’s, Blue Boy, Cambridge, Double Hull, and Echo IV.

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