PFF Tour Deeply Rooted
DEEPLY ROOTED, Thursday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., Covington Trailhead, 419 N. Hampshire St.
For nearly four decades, John Coykendall’s passion has been preserving the farm heritage – the seeds and stories - of southeastern Louisiana.
Followed by a Q&A with director Christina Meltonand Jan Biggs of the Covington Farmers Market
The Pontchartrain Film Festival Tour announces the Louisiana festival premier of
‘Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall’s Journey to Save Our Seeds and Stories’
St. Tammany, LA - The Covington Farmers Market and City of Covington have partnered with the Pontchartrain Film Festival Tour to present a free, outdoor screening of “Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall’s Journey to Save Our Seeds and Stories” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28 at the Covington Trailhead, 419 N. Hampshire St. In the case of inclement weather, it will be moved inside.
Director Christina Melton of Baton Rouge will be in attendance for a question and answer session after the screening. She produced the documentary for Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Melton will be joined by Jan Biggs from the Covington Farmers Market, where several farmers sell vegetables grown from local heirloom seeds.
Coykendall is native of Tennessee who has deep roots in southeast Louisiana. He is the Master Gardener at the renowned Blackberry Farm, which hosts extensive heirloom vegetable, flower and herb gardens on 4,200 acres in the Smoky Mountain foothills.
He didn’t set out to be one of the pioneers in what is known as the farm-to-table movement. Before he became one of America’s leaders in preserving heirloom seeds and farming knowledge, Coykendall studied fine arts in Florida and taught for a decade in Boston.
But a visit to meet a college friend’s family in Franklinton, Louisiana would forever change his life. There he met “old farmers who described old farming ways” Melton said.
For more than 40 years, he has filled journals with richly illustrated drawings of seeds, planting methods, farm implements and animals, and the stories of these family farmers.
Coykendall has taken some of the small quantities of seeds kept by these farming families and brought them back to Tennessee to cultivate for seed preservation. He then registers the seeds in the family’s name with the Seed Savers Exchange located in Decorah, Iowa.
Melton and her husband were on vacation at Blackberry Farm when they met Coykendall in a little garden shed on the grounds. When they found out they had a Louisiana connection, Coykendall offered to show them his journals.
“At that time, he didn't know how many he had,” Melton said. He had been “journaling and recording oral histories of the seeds saved and how they related to family history” for more than four decades, in more than 80 journals, she said.
“He has learned from the masters,” Melton said, the farmers in southeastern Louisiana “who had to rely on folk gardening tips, passed down orally from generation to generation.”
Melton said Coykendall is “a walking encyclopedia of knowledge, and preacher of the seed gospel.” She is “in the process of writing with him,” to bring the journals to book form.
The Pontchartrain Film Festival brings award-winning documentary films on tour through October, leading up to the sixth annual festival Nov. 3-4, 2017 at the Mandeville Trailhead Depot Museum. The tour continues with the northshore premier of “American Creole: New Orleans Reunion” directed by Glen Pitre, at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at the Dew Drop. The subject of the film is northshore musician Don Vappie, will be in attendance for a Q&A after the film.
The PFF Film Tour is an opportunity to bring documentary films and filmmakers into settings where there can be interaction with their audience and discussion of their films and the filmmaking process.
The Pontchartrain Film Festival is a project of the nonprofit Olde Town Arts Center. For information, visit www.pontchartrainfilmfestival.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pontchartrain Film Festival
PFF6 is Nov. 3-4, 2017
Mandeville Trailhead, 675 Lafitte St.