Sowing the Joy of Heirloom Seeds

Diane at Hershey

Pep Rallies and Seeds

Diane at the Milton Hershey School

Recently I returned from speaking in Pennsylvania at a Slow Food Harrisburg Farm-to-Table dinner. Next door was Hershey. Milton Hershey’s legacy is remarkable and delicious, but the legacy he left that impressed me more than milk chocolate was the Milton Hershey School. The school was founded and endowed more than 100 years ago by Milton and Catherine to fulfill their vision of helping children reach their dreams. Today the school is a year-round home for 1200 children. I met with the school garden club who were very quick to point out they were there because they wanted to be, not because they were required. The story of how Seed Savers Exchange also began with only a vision was inspiring to them. Seeing the joy and hope that seeds bring to a group of students was just as inspiring to me.

"Seed Rally" at the Ben Franklin School

I then traveled to neighboring Ben Franklin School where I spoke at a general assembly of the Math/Science Academy — an experience resembling a pep rally for seeds. I spoke for about 15 minutes and opened the floor to questions.  Hands were raised all over and unfortunately time ran out before I could answer them all. Their thoughtful questions ranged from “Is a tomato a fruit or vegetable?” to “How do you save seeds from a banana tree?” (I’ll admit I had to look that one up!). Math/Science Academy teacher Judd Pittman later wrote, “Our students were really excited about your visit, which has also sparked a lot of conversation. The students have enjoyed looking at the catalogue and are excited about the seeds you left for the school garden.”

I am thankful to be part of an organization that offers hope and solutions.  Witnessing the excitement of young people holding a pack of seeds for the first time and understanding the living connection of our past to the future is one of the most rewarding feelings.