As awareness grows around issues of food and sustainability, people everywhere are waking up to the vital importance of seeds. Now more than ever, we need small, bioregional seed operations to replace the “one-size-fits-all” industrial seed system. To answer this need, Native Seeds/SEARCH has created Seed School.
Think “Seeds First”
Seed School is a groundbreaking 6-day course designed to help participants create new regional and sustainable seed production and distribution systems. Students walk away from this innovative educational program with the knowledge and inspiration to start their own heirloom seed company, organize a community seed-lending library, and train others in the art and practice of seed saving. Seed School is for gardeners, farmers, seed savers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, policymakers and anyone interested in turning the tide on the industrialization of our food and agriculture.
Why Seed School?
When our ancestral gardeners needed seed, there were no glossy catalogs to leaf through. They acquired their replanting stock through the time-honored practice of seed saving, a tradition dating back some 10,000 years. But today most farmers and gardeners purchase their seed from “Big Box” chains and corporate seed companies. This dramatic shift has taken its toll. Over the past century, we’ve lost an alarming amount of biodiversity among our food crops and become dependent on an industrialized agricultural system that puts profits above all else. Seed School encourages a return to the ancient art of seed saving to reconnect people from all walks of life with seeds—the source of all sustenance.
We envision a vast network of thousands of small, bioregional seed companies and community-owned seed collections replacing the disempowering and ecologically destructive industrial system. By taking ownership over our seeds once again and rejoining the ritual of seed saving, we are replenishing our dwindling biodiversity, building up beneficial crop adaptations, and strengthening food security where we live. This is the way to true sustainability... and to healthier, better-tasting food!
What You’ll Learn
This first-of-its-kind course teaches the practical, detailed information necessary to recreate the genetic foundation for a truly sustainable agriculture. Seed School’s focus is to dissect the current world seed situation, take a hard look at its implications, and then help students gain the skills needed to construct new seed production and distribution models for both profit-making and nonprofit institutions.
Classroom time in this permaculture-inspired program is balanced with hands-on activities, group work, and consulting time with our expert instructors. For our Tucson courses, a field trip to the 60-acre Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Farm offers students a unique window into a professional seed conservation organization at work.
Topics covered during Seed School include:
- Structure and History of the Seed Industry
- The Magic of Seeds
- Intro to Mendel's Genetics
- Selection and Evaluation
- Wild Seed - Production, Collection, Cleaning
- Seed Exchanges, Libraries, Businesses
Click here to download the full Seed School syllabus.
Click here to register for an upcoming Seed School session.
Not all instructors teach every Seed School. See individual course details for more info.
Bill McDorman is the principal instructor for Seed School and the Executive Director of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a 30-year-old Southwestern seed conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona. He is the founder of three seed companies and several nonprofits, and author of the 1994 book Basic Seed Saving.
Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan
Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally celebrated nature writer, seed saver, conservation biologist and sustainable agriculture activist who has been called “the father of the local food movement.” He is the author or editor of twenty-four books, including Enduring Seeds and Renewing America’s Food Traditions. Nabhan is co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH.
Joy Hought, MSc
Joy Hought has a unique combination of expertise including 15 years teaching and developing curricula in the arts and sciences; 2 years in public broadcasting; and a graduate degree in seed science, crop genetic conservation, and food systems.
“Unique, innovative, and necessary! Seed School fills in a gaping hole in the sustainable agriculture landscape.”
- Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden
“I learned more about what is real in a week at Seed School than I did in four years of college!”
- Jesse DeMoss, New Meadows, Idaho