CORE: Unraveling the Stories Behind Our Seeds
One summer during the 1950s, Graham Collier of Tennessee planted all the seeds he had of his family’s heirloom slicing cucumber. Little did he know, none of the plants would survive that summer’s drought...
...with no crop that year and no seeds in reserve, the family thought the cucumber was lost. The Collier’s daughter, May, writes “He and mother believed that the cucumber line was gone forever. It was a sad day! However, miracle of miracles, next year a volunteer plant came up!” Graham caged the plant to protect it from birds and carefully tended it throughout the season. This single plant saved the variety from extinction.
Prior to January 2012, SSE knew none of this information about Cucumber 62, ‘Collier’. Seed Historian Sara Straate obtained this story and more through conversations with the children of Graham and his wife Margaret. The cucumber was originally grown by Margaret’s parents who obtained the seeds circa 1910 from a migrant community traveling through the area. Possessing an exceptionally thin, white skin, the Colliers used it for fresh eating and pickling. This cucumber was the family’s favorite and the only one they grew.
This narrative is an example of how the Collection Origins Research Effort (CORE) is enriching the documentation of SSE accessions. Yet, with thousands of varieties in our collection, much work is yet to be done. Read more about the CORE Project here.
We urge individuals who have previously donated seeds to SSE to contact us. Your information may enhance our understanding of a variety’s origin, history, or cultural and familial ties. Please contact Sara Straate at firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred) or by calling 563-387-5655.