The Seed Ambassadors Project

Bringing Biodiversity Back

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Seed Swaps for Everyone – “How To”

The world could always use more seed swaps and here are a few tips for organizing your own Seed Swap. (Thanks to Kim in central Virginia for the e-mail prompting this blog post.)

The folks at Seedy Sunday Brighton have a whole page devoted to hosting a seed swap. Food not Lawns also has a bit about organizing one.

The first thing is to get some friends involved, because it can be a lot of work (organizing, set up, clean up, promotion, etc.). If you don’t know anyone that will help you, post some fliers at garden stores or your local natural foods store, or maybe even the community garden bulletin board if your community is lucky enough to have one.

We have seen a few ways seed swaps can be organized. You have to decide which is best for your group.

Seedy Sunday Brighton has a central table, and when people come in, they give their seeds to the table, then volunteers organize them for redistribution. This way seems overly centralized and impersonal to me, but it works for them, and it may be necessary to do it this way at an event that draws upwards of 1,000 people. They also charge a small entrance fee to cover their expenses and require either a straight across swap of seed for seed or 50 pence for a seed pack, partly because “people don’t value that which is free.” At every other seed swap I have been to, everything is free.

A second way is to set up tables and have people stand near their stuff, so they can explain it to others that might have questions. This is what we do at the smaller fall seed swap.

A third way, which is also good, is to set up tables and have designated areas for different types of plants: flowers, herbs, tomatoes, etc. this is what we do at our large spring seed swap.

Most seed swaps descend into a sort of chaos even with the rough framework, so you could just have some tables and have people toss their seeds wherever they land. Then it’s a real treasure hunt!

Some other tips:

* If the group is 30 people or less, it is nice to stand in a circle and have people introduce themselves and what they’ve brought. This gives the swap more of a community vibe.

* If you know any seed geeks or old gardener types, be sure and personally invite them to help ensure there are some good seeds there.

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Seed Saving Zine – 4th Edition

Here is the 4th edition of our Seed Ambassadors Project Seed Saving Guide.

“A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty”

Seed Saving Zine 4 hand out (3.8 MB PDF) This handout formatted version is your best choice for printing and reading if you do not have one of those fancy zine staplers.

Seed Saving Zine 4 duplex (3.5 MB PDF) This zine formatted version is for printing in a duplex printer and folding into a Zine. That is why the pages seem to be in a weird order. If your printer does not have duplex ability you can print it one page at a time, flipping each page over to print the back side.

Seed Saving Guide 4th edition


Enjoy your seed saving adventures

Seed Ambassador demos now on YouTube!

Want to know more about how to save and process seeds from the plants on your farm or home garden? Check out our step-by-step instructional videos on our  YouTube channels:

We have Sarah starring in a short video on how to save and process mustard seed, a strategy which can also be used on other Brassicas.

We also have a short of Andrew demonstrating tomatillo techniques for a captive audience during a live seed saving workshop at Skinner City Farm in Eugene. The demo shows how to save seed from tomatillos, a process which can also be use on eggplants.

Lastly we have a more recent video demonstrating catnip seed saving.

Subscribe to our seedy YouTube channels to be notified about all newly posted videos. Thanks for tuning in!

Winter Cropping Workshop

Over 35 people turned out for the 6th annual Winter Cropping Workshop at Food for Lane County’s (FFLC) Youth Farm in Springfield.

Nick Routledge talks winter croping

Workshop presenters Ted Purdy, FFLC farmer; Andrew Still of the Seed Ambassadors Project; and Nick Routledge provided a wealth of information about the right conditions for growing good tasting and fresh vegetables—roots and greens—all winter long.  The three fielded questions from the audience about growing regionally appropriate varieties that provide enough calories for gardeners to feed themselves on a 100 mile diet even throughout the April/May hunger gap.

After the workshop a lively seed swap provided excellent varieties for getting a winter garden started.

Andrew Still (looking at the camera) gives away seeds

Andrew Still (looking at the camera) gives away seeds

Thailand 2009

This month we took a short trip to Thailand, where we combined family time with my dad (who lives there), with some Seed Ambassadorizing in a small village called Nong Ta Klong in Buriram Province, in the northeast.

View Sideshow in Full Screen
– We recommend changing it to 5 seconds per photo.

On a previous trip to Thailand we had made friends with Loong Yoot, a brilliant and inspirational man whose motto is to “teach by not teach.” Loong Yoot received a scholarship to study Permaculture in Australia many years ago, and has spent the past eight years riding his bicycle around his home country teaching people by example about sustainable living. In a country where most structures are made of resource consumptive wood or cement, he teaches people to build adobe structures for community learning centers and other uses. In a culture where consumerism and materialism are rapidly stripping both rich and poor of their sense of self, he shows that another, simpler way of life is possible and in many ways preferable. Loong Yoot’s workshops bridge the class divide by bringing the rural poor together with elite city folk searching for a new way of life, and enable travelers to develop meaningful connections with people and places in that elusive “off the beaten path.”

The last time we were in Thailand (early 2004), we spent five weeks working and learning with Yoot in a village close to the Cambodian border. This time, due to a limited time frame, we spent only three days.

Po Tongbai, the former village head man of Ban Nong Ta Klong, had already started a bit of a “Center for Sustainable” in this increasingly dry region when he dug three large ponds on his land a few years ago. Some questioned his sanity, but his family and friends now enjoy fresh fish year-round, and his family has a lush, irrigated garden in the dry season. But the invitation to build an adobe structure, to invite people from near and very far away to learn about living a less resource-consumptive life, was initiated by his daughter Noi. Over the course of three weeks, dozens of people will come to Po Tongbai’s land to have fun, make connections, and learn by doing.

In the short time we were there we made many bricks and built two walls of the structure; learned how to make rice noodles in the traditional way; did a teensy bit of gardening; ate lots of delicious food; and gave a seed saving workshop. We brought some international seeds with us to share with the villagers, and in return some of the women in the village walked us around and gave us seed for many beautiful food and flower plants, some of which might even mature seed for us here in Oregon. We are thrilled to grow their authentic Thai holy basil, an edible species of cleome (spider flower), and Loong Yoot’s edible ball-shaped loofa from the northern mountain regions, among others.

Thank You Organic Allotment Friends

I wanted to thank Howard Sooley for the nice words he wrote on the Organic Allotment blog recently. Another thank you to Alan Jenkins and the other OG Allotment folks for keeping up the good work and making us want to be in Europe every time we read your posts.

We miss their enthusiasm and kindness. Their very active blog is one of my favorites for regular reading online.

Please read their recent Seed Saving post, it makes me warm inside. Which is convenient as it is snowing now in Oregon and it isn’t going to get above freezing for 3 days.

Here are some fall and winter photos. (I recommend opening the slide show full screen and setting the speed to 5 seconds.)

Stay warm and happy winter time from the Seed Ambassadors Project.

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