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Appalachian Studies Center to participate in Foxfire's 50th

A group of students and faculty from the University of North Georgia (UNG) Appalachian Studies Center will perform "Every Seed Has a Story" as part of the Foxfire 50th/30th Anniversary Education Conference. The performance kicks off a year-long partnership between The Foxfire Museum and the center in which students will create and design arts-based content for Foxfire’s interpretive program.

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These broadsides were created by students involved in the Saving Appalachian Gardens and Stories project, an interdisciplinary project with the departments of visual art, biology, and the Appalachian Studies Center at UNG.

The unique presentation that combines storytelling and folklore with research on seed preservation and ecology is a perfect fit for Foxfire, an organization that started as a magazine to document folk life in Southern Appalachia by an English teacher at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Rabun Gap, Georgia.

The UNG presentation is based on research conducted by Appalachian Studies Center students and faculty members that began by simply collecting heirloom seeds and details of their origins from community members.

"This interdisciplinary project, a unique synthesis of biology, storytelling and visual art, provides students and community members with reciprocal opportunities to engage in the local food system through cultural literacy," Rosann Kent, director of the center, said. "Undergraduates not only practice seed banking – collecting, growing, saving and sharing germplasm – but also memory banking, or saving related ethnocultural knowledge and foodways. As students learn to listen deeply and intentionally, they bridge the gap between old and young, academia and wisdom."

From a story based on the folk practice of planting crops by moon phases to a harrowing tale of a snake bite while processing corn, "Every Seed Has a Story" shares stories about decades of daily life in north Georgia. In addition to the Reader Theater performance, Dr. Chris Dockery, associate professor of art education at UNG and the Georgia Humanities Scholar for Foxfire, will lead a conversation on arts-based research.

The Appalachian Studies Center has collected more than 150 heirloom seed varieties as part of its Saving Appalachian Gardens and Stories (SAGAS), an interdisciplinary project with the departments of visual art, biology, and the center, which is a unit of the College of Education. SAGAS defines heirloom seeds as those that are 50 years or older, have never been bought or sold, have been passed down among family or friends, and are from the Appalachian region.

Through travel grants from the Appalachian Teaching Project, the original research project has expanded to include involvement in local farmers' markets and libraries to promote local food and agro-biodiversity through seed swaps and educational activities.

In addition to the "Every Seed Has a Story" presentation, UNG students and faculty have shared their research through traditional papers and unique art projects, including a "communograph."

The presentation is scheduled for Friday, June 25 at 7 p.m. in the Rearden Theatre at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School. Tickets are free, and can be obtained through the festival website. Other anniversary events include a folk festival, musical performances, and visual arts and historical exhibitions.

The Appalachian Studies Center, which was designated in 2005 by the Georgia General Assembly as the state's official center for the study of Appalachia, is located in the Vickery House on UNG's Dahlonega Campus and can be reached at 706-864-1540.

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