19 June, 2011

Starting Seed School

Starting Seed School

Belle Star (the cute one on the left) and Bill McDorman, lead instructor, take our class through some thought provoking exercises for the evening.

Late this afternoon, 20 some students met our instructors, in the Native Seed/SEARCH facility in north Tucson to meet and set our intention for the coming week.  It was an interesting day in Tucson.  First of all, the high was about 101F and in the afternoon some tree-bending (hot!) winds came through.  When we went into the building about 5:00, the sun was shining and it was a gorgeous, if scorching, day.  When we came out, we were amazed at the landscape; the sky was gray and overcast in a way that did not seem natural.  Many of the students in this class are from, or have family living in, the areas of Arizona that have huge wild fires burning through and the thought went naturally to 'smoke!' but it was from the wrong direction.  Finally, we deduced it was dust kicked up by the wind.

We got there at 5:00, had a meal of some homemade soup Bill had put together, including big beautiful Red Runner beans and a lot of other home grown vegetables, corn bread (yum!) and a lot of fruit.  We took a tour of the facility.  The highlight of the tour for me was the 600 square foot refrigerator!  I have worked in many restaurants in my life all of which have a walk-in cooler and some had walk in freezers, but I've never been in one this large.  It was exciting all the more because it was filled with seeds!  Most of the seeds in the cooler part are seeds folks will buy in the coming months - the freezer holds long term storage seeds that represent valuable lines of seed to be preserved.
In this photo, corn seeds are held waiting to be dispensed into packets and sent to customers of Native Seed/SEARCH - I have always encouraged people to order from mail order seed houses for this reason - the seeds are kept under ideal circumstances until they are packed for you.  Buying from the local Big Box you get seeds that have been on the showroom rack for how long and under very questionable circumstances.  My local OSH moves their seed rack out into full sun everyday until they sell the seed or return them for credit - after a month, the viability of the seed is greatly degraded.

We spent time learning about one another - I loved that we were to tell our names, the name of the watershed where we live (I'm Ballona Creek), the amount of rainfall we get per year (the Los Angeles average is about 13", I was amazed at how many in the room had single digit rainfall per annum!  Gave me a new perspective!).  In this class there are folks starting seed banks, libraries, companies and all kinds of enterprises! There are students from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Mexico City! We range in age from the twenties to sixties and represent many different walks of life.  

My intention is to blog nightly until Friday, I hope to present some of the knowledge learned in seed school here in this blog.  I see we have several night sessions in addition to the day session, so I don't know if that'll hold, but I'm going to commit to that schedule for now.  


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