Ancient Seeds

Descendants of ancient watermelon seeds were cultivated by the Jordan family and shared with third graders this fall. This seed story actually begins in the last century —and across the country. In the late 1920s, plant expert Art Combe was exploring a cave in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. He found a small clay pot filled with watermelon seeds believed to be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years old stored by Native Americans in the area. Combe planted some of the seeds he found and the fruit the plants bore were small and crook necked, but very flavorful. Over decades, these seeds were cultivated and seed-saving preserved and propagated this particular type of watermelon. Fast forward to last summer when Upper School science teacher Steve Compton obtained some of the seeds descended from those found in the cave and gave them to Associate Director of Admission Samantha Jordan ’01 and her family who planted them. Sam and her son, Tommy ’ 32, shared some of their watermelon harvest with Tommy’s classmates in third grade earlier this fall. The students learned about these heirloom seeds, and Farmer Tim Mountz used the opportunity to teach the students about seed saving and heirloom plants. Finally, they all got to see the “big reveal” when the watermelon from the Jordan’s garden was cut open, and they all got to share in tasting it. Students reported that it was “very sweet, even though it was light pink inside.” When the tasting was complete, third graders collected the seeds from the watermelon to continue the seed-saving process for this unique variety of watermelon. Enjoy the gallery here!