We are wrapping up and writing our final report of the season. Our last meeting with 2012 gardeners was on Nov 15th–we used all the dried flowers from the year and made wreathes. It was a fun day, and a day to talk more about next year. Almost everyone wants chickens so we have a lot of research to do to make this a successful year–we don’t want to be overrun with baby chicks that are not getting cared for, or leave people without means to feed their birds.
Appalachian Farmer’s Market Association (AFMA) hosted their annual community seed swap in Bristol, VA which was a chance for us to hunt out some heritage varieties from this region and to learn more about the science of seed-saving. For instance, we had planned to grow some local bloody butcher corn for seed, but learned that for adequate biodiversity and seed stock health you should save seed from 100+ corn plants. We may not have enough room to do this, so it’s food for thought…other plants, such as beans, require about 20 plants for proper seed saving. So much to learn…if only I could activate that large chunk of my brain I do not use….perhaps there’s a plant for that.
A professional and passionate seed saver, Jack Woodworth of Opposum’s Bottom Farm in Scott County, VA, brought a plethora of seed to the swap. He also brought with him his seed portfolio–he grows seed for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and has pictures and growing info on all the different varieties he produces. He gave us seed for several tomato varieties, one of which originated in Scott county and one which originated in Lee county!
My steadfast garden volunteer Jody and I ruminated on how we could share the responsibility of seed-saving for the program with all our gardeners. To space out all the tomatoes and such enough, which require 25 feet between varieties at least, according to Jack, potentially we will assign different people to grow a row somewhere on their property of certain varieties so we can get enough seed stock to reduce the amount of bought-on seed for 2014. I’m super excited about creating a co-operative-type seed bank and getting all these people working together and saving for one another. It really will increase community ownership of the program.
We also received some Cantaloupe varieties, one from Tennessee and one strangely from Alaska. I’ve heard cucurbits are pretty fiendy cross-pollinators so I am not sure how well we will do with saving melon seed but I will look into it.
Coming soon–details of our Whole Farm Planning Class.