Anyone who thinks the study of heirloom seeds has no practical application clearly hasn't yet perused his or her copy of the Seed Savers Exchange catalogue. This spring's edition happens to include two rare seed varietals cultivated in Hamilton's own 1812 Garden.
Cups potatoes and Katie Wheeler calico flint corn are the two varietals that have been cultivated on campus. The cups potatoes are descended from pre-1770 tubers that survived in the Beamish Museum in Durham, England, and represent one of the oldest surviving European and North American potato varieties. Katie Wheeler is a grinding corn that was originally collected from Iroquois Nation seed savers.
Spawned by the course Food for Thought: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Food, currently taught by Associate Professor of Russian Frank Sciacca and Professor of Biology David Gapp, the 1812 Garden is a re-creation of an early 19th-century Central New York kitchen garden that offers historical and cultural perspectives on sustainability. Seed Savers Exchange describes itself as "a nonprofit, member-supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations."