Category Archives: Seed Saving
We stole a couple of days from the garden to travel across to Whidbey Island and then to Bainbridge Island to visit Suyematsu & Bentryn Family Farms. These community commons have a very interesting history starting in 1928 with the Suyematsu family.
This guided walk and talk was organized by Tilth Producers of Washington
Betsey Wittick who runs Laughing Crow Farm explained how some of the collaborations work: the 6 farms formed a Guild to help them work cooperatively. They buy equipment together and share an irrigation system. Their shared farm stand enables them to work out who is growing what so that they are not competing with each other. They take turns to manage the farm stand and take a percentage of the sales. An shared internship program also allows interns to work with the range of different farmers and participate in a variety of practices.
She also grows beautiful raspberries!
Brian MacWhorter of Butler Green Farms has much experience of working collaboratively since he lived in a commune in the 1970s. He said that although farmers have a tendency towards independence, the Guild forces them to work together. Its not always easy and difficulties can arise between personalities. But as long as everyone understands that co-operation is better for business, there is strength in numbers…
We would love to work more collaboratively with the small farms on San Juan Island – a multi farm CSA cooperative, group buying of fertilizer, and sharing equipment for example… The Greenhorns have published a great resource on Farming Cooperatively: www.thegreenhorns.net/guidebooks/cooperativefarming/
Educulture is another wonderful project at Suyematsu and Bentryn Family Farms. Local schools have access to plots for children to grow and learn in the field.
Back at our farm, new woofers Isaac and Sarah have been holding the fort. Getting the tomatoes planted and …
Seeds collected in the fall have dried out in the round barn.
These green bean seeds are very satisfying to clean… foot stomping to release the beans from their crunchy shells.
Kentucky Wonders and…
Overwintering Cabbages are still going strong…
…and our Fava Bean cover crops, planted in two experiment beds (one tilled conventionally and one not tilled) have sprouted.
Amy is doing a Micro-dairy course run by Candace Jagel at WSU Extension.
A very comprehensive course that included a trip to Heritage Farm, to see their dairy set up and to meet their new milking cow, Rose. We dream of adding a few milking goats to the family in the future.
In the meantime we are getting to know these gorgeous girls at Talking Horse Farm. They are a rare meat breed and are living under manager Rob Waldron’s care for this season.
Waste is a sin against nature, a curse of modern life…reusing, mending and recycling must be regarded as great sattvic virtues. Satish Kumar, Spritual Compass
Amy ran a paper-making workshop for the community as part of the Family Art Day organised by Islands Museum of Art. A technique she learned many years ago.
Old, used pieces of paper are torn and blended in a food blender. The pulp is mixed with water in a bowl then a deckle (mould) is used to collect a thin layer.
The top part of the deckle is taken off…
…and the part with the mesh is flipped onto a cloth and then gently pressed with a sponge to make the pulp stick and come away from the mesh.
Voila! Now leave in the sun to dry and the paper will easily peel off the cloth.
You can add threads, petals and even seeds to create beautiful effects.
This could be a lovely way to distribute seeds saved from the garden.
I spent many years of my youth foolishly searching for something I ‘should’ have been doing. Instead, I should have entrusted everything to the flowers blooming in the meadow. Even if people do nothing at all, the grasses and the trees and the songbirds will live on…. I have finally learned that, although nature does not reach out to people directly, people can always approach nature and seek salvation that way. Masanobu Fukuoka, Sowing Seeds in the Desert
Our invitation to Larry Korn (editor of The One Straw Revolution) to be a key speaker at our weekend of workshops, coincided perfectly with the launch of his latest work: Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert.
Wwoofers and volunteers worked hard to create a beautiful environment for the workshop, including flower art by Whitney…
… in the newly cleaned and renovated round barn.
Larry joined our temporary community for meals (prepared by volunteers), bonfire and conversation.
He emphasized the philosophy of natural farming and shared tales and images of his experiences with Fukouka. When the visionary Japanese farmer told him that his soil yielding a thick crop of barley had not been ploughed for 25 years, Larry thought he had discovered “the holy grail”.
Videos of all the inspirational presentations will be posted later.
Krista Rome lead us beautifully though the various steps of threshing, winnowing and using screens to clean locally grown grains and beans.
Lots of work for many hands and feet! A great communal activity.
Her fantastic manual is available at www.backyardbeansandgrains.com
Tools of the trade, including Japanese hand sickles, like the ones used on Fukuoka’s farm (we love them!) were demonstrated by the highly skillful Errol Speed.
Passionate about every kind of hand tool. He lead us through the complete process of transforming sod-covered ground into a bed without tilling. From sharpening your scythe to using the broad-fork. Errol’s tools can be purchased at his store on Orcas Island www.smithandspeed.com
Seed Saving and honoring the life cycle of a plant is a crucial aspect of working with nature. Ana Manilof from Lopez Island has been selling seeds through her company Green Heart Gardens for a number of years. She quoted from one of our favorite books: Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth:
The seeds that gardeners hold in their hands at planting time are living links in an unbroken chain reaching back into antiquity… Whenever gardeners begin to save their own seeds, they also become part of an ancient tradition.
Ryan Drum from Waldron Island, talked about another ancient tradition: foraging and healing with plants.
He managed to find an incredible amount of beneficial wild plants to discuss, just sitting in one spot in the garden. This is because we do not excessively eliminate weeds as part of our natural farming processes. These wild plants help keep the soil and crops healthy. Including Shepherds Purse, that Ryan told us can be used to stop heavy bleeding. What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. Ralph Waldo Emerson
We finished the weekend with a presentation from RP, who has been volunteering at the farm. A former Phd student in applied chemistry who wanted to warn us of the dangers of the newly developing nano-technology field.
Lots of information and new ideas to digest during all the delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. On the menu: oatmeal and muffins, local poached salmon, BBQ beef from Talking Horse Farm, fresh garden salad, grilled zucchini and leek, couscous and chick pea taboule, borscht, home made bread and ratatouille with brown rice. Dining was accompanied by the lovely gypsy band OPA. We were all too busy eating, conversing and dancing to take any pictures. Thank you to everyone who contributed their head, heart and hands to this very special event.