Learn why and how to save seed at Molokai workshop

| July 25, 2012 | 1 Comment

The Kohala Center News Release

A workshop for farmers and gardeners on seed production and seed saving methods offered by Hawaii Public Seed Initiative will be held Friday, Aug. 24, and Saturday, Aug. 25, in Ho‘olehua on Molokai. The workshop will be at Lanikeha Center and at the NRCS Plant Materials Center.

Kauai workshop participants harvest brassica seeds grown at Regenerations Garden in Kilauea.

Registration and scholarship application deadline is Aug. 19.

The cost of the workshop is $50 for both days, which includes a seed manual, a catered lunch on both days, and a tour of the Plant Materials Center. For more details and online registration information, visit kohalacenter.org/seedbasicsworkshop/molokai.html.

Five youth scholarships are offered to students in grades 11 through college interested in agriculture. Scholarship forms are available online at the website above. Contact Lyn Howe, Hawaii Public Seed workshop coordinator, at (808) 756-5310 or seedproject@kohalacenter.org for information.

Cutting taro for huli.

The two-day workshops, offered on all five islands, are designed to create a beginning working knowledge of seed production, botany and biology, plant selection, seed harvesting, cleaning, and saving various types of seed as well as develop island-wide seed networks. These workshops are possible through the support of the CERES Trust and The Kohala Center.

The workshop includes lectures and hands-on fieldwork so participants can practice harvesting, selecting, cleaning, and storing fresh seed. Fieldwork focuses on growing lettuce and tomato and on seed and taro propagation. Strategies to account for differences in elevation, weather patterns, and rainfall will be discussed.

Among the presenters sharing their knowledge are:
• Hector Valenzuela, Ph.D., College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Relations (CTAHR) Extension, vegetable specialist;
• Russell Nagata, Ph.D., CTAHR County of Hawaii Extension administrator, lettuce propagation and seed production specialist;
• Glenn Teves, CTAHR Molokai Extension Office, taro and tomato propagation specialist;
• Ellen Sugawara, Co-owner and operator of Papohaku Biodynamic Farm; and
• Nancy Redfeather, program director of the Hawaii Public Seed Initiative and the Hawaii Island School Garden Network, and co-owner of Kawanui Farm on Hawaii Island.

“By learning to save seed, farmers and gardeners can help to halt the loss of diversity in our food supply experienced over the last century,” said The Kohala Center’s Howe.

“A 1983 study conducted by the Rural Advancement Foundation surveyed 66 crops and found that 93 percent of varieties are extinct. More than 300 varieties of corn existed 80 years ago; now only 12 varieties remain. Tomato varieties have dwindled from 408 to 79; peas from 408 to 25 — and the list goes on. Large corporations have bought out many seed suppliers; and this consolidation of seed, combined with the loss of knowledge of seed-saving practices, has resulted in the disappearance of thousands of varieties of heirloom, open-pollinated seeds,” Howe said.

Paul Myers, a home gardener who attended the Kauai workshop, said, “The Kauai seed workshop demystified the basics of gathering my own seeds and empowered me to imagine a greater involvement with our garden. Bringing this knowledge and these friendships back to the garden has invigorated our daily work with enthusiasm and the knowledge that we are not doing this alone.”

For a firsthand account of the Kauai workshop, see “The State of Seed” in the Hawaii Homegrown Food Network newsletter at http://hawaiihomegrown.net/reports/288-thegardentalks-the-state-of-seeds.

A workshop will be held on Hawaii Island on Nov. 3 and 4 at Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook with optional farm field trips on Nov. 5.

Category: Biotechnology and Monsanto, Business, News, Sustainability

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