The Introduction to Seed Saving workshop held in early May was an exciting educational opportunity for all participants of different backgrounds. The workshop provided valuable lessons for educators, community garden planners, backyard gardeners, to those staring a seed library. Education Coordinator Melissa Kruse-Peeples led the class, with the help of retail staff Laura Neff and Chad Borseth, and Executive Director Joy Hought. Some more NSS staff even joined in the audience!
Conservation Manager Nicholas Garber discusses seed anatomy with the participants.
Day one kicked off with an important question: Why do we save seeds? The class thought of multiple inspiring answers including the benefits of local adaptation, connecting the past to the future, seed saving as a means of cultural preservation, and the connections to healthy eating. This activity was followed by a seed identification guessing game, hands-on flower anatomy lessons, seed saving demonstrations, and a tour of the Native Seeds/SEARCH seed vault. The rest of the workshop consisted of more seed saving teachings, demonstrations, and hands-on processing of numerous types of seed! The students started fermenting tomato seeds from Melissa’s neighbor’s garden. Students enjoyed processing a wide variety of seeds saving activities such as shelling corn, picking chili seeds, threshing cilantro, and saving cotton seeds. Threshing and winnowing were among the most popular activities. The weekend was quite windy, which was great for winnowing the larger seeds, but it became so windy that the shade tent blew right over! Many activities with the small seeds were moved indoors.
Threshing of cilantro seeds.
Students came from all over the Southwest, including Arizona, California and New Mexico. Several librarians from the Pima County Public Libraries were there to gain knowledge to enhance the seed library programs there. Pima County has one of the largest seed libraries in the country with more people in the community getting interested. Community Seed Grant and Native American Seed Request participants also made up a portion of the class. Participants were interested in incorporating seed saving into their school garden projects and some desired seed saving skills to make their community projects sustainable over the long-term.
Students learn to process Chilaca chili pepper seeds
It was refreshing to see such a diverse crowd interested in brightening the future of seeds. Thank you to all those involved for such a fun and enriching experience! We can’t wait for the next workshop in September. Scholarships to cover the tuition fee are available to participants in our Community Seed Grant and Native American Free Seed program.