Learn to Save Seed at Molokai Workshop

July 25, 2012, 8:36 AM HST · Updated July 25, 9:02 AM
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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.  Courtesy photo, the Kohala Center.

By Reid Cairme (***Reid is a news/media intern, from Kamehameha Schools – Maui. Edited by Wendy Osher, News Director)

A workshop for farmers and gardeners on seed production and seed saving methods will be held Friday, August 24, and Saturday, August 25, in  Ho‘olehua on Moloka‘i.

The workshop is offered by Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative and will be held at Lanikeha Center and at the NRCS Plant Materials Center.

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.  The workshops also serve as a platform to develop island-wide seed networks.

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“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 Lyn Howe, Hawai‘i Public Seed workshop coordinator.

“A 1983 study conducted by the Rural Advancement Foundation surveyed 66 crops and found that 93% 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,” said Howe.

“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.

Taro propagation will be one of the topics of discussion.  Courtesy photo, 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 Extension, vegetable specialist;
  • Russell Nagata, Ph.D., CTAHR County of Hawai‘i Extension administrator, lettuce propagation and seed production specialist;
  • Glenn Teves, CTAHR Moloka‘i Extension Office, taro and tomato propagation specialist;
  • Ellen Sugawara, Co-owner and operator of Papohaku Biodynamic Farm; and
  • Nancy Redfeather, program director of the Hawai‘i Public Seed Initiative and the Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network, and co-owner of Kawanui Farm on Hawai‘i Island.

Paul Myers, a home gardener who attended the Kaua‘i workshop, said, “The Kaua‘i 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.”

The workshops are possible through the support of the CERES Trust and The Kohala Center.

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.

Five youth scholarships are offered to students in grades 11 through college interested in agriculture.  Scholarship forms are available online at kohalacenter.org/seedbasicsworkshop/molokai.html.  For more information, contact Howe at (808) 756-5310 or [email protected].

The registration and scholarship application deadline is August 19.

***Supporting information courtesy The Kohala Center.

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