the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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the honey locust contest revisited

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In 1926 J Russell Smith launched a contest to gather honey locust pods from across the country, the Savanna Institute are continuing what he started. 

Contest Details & Instructions

Step 1: Photograph the tree

Photograph the tree before the pods have fallen from the tree, although preferably after leaves have dropped. Include the entire tree within the photo. Prior to taking the photo, tack a standard 8.5×11″ piece of white paper to the tree trunk (scale reference). Include the ground. Use the highest resolution camera that you have access to.

Step 2: Collect 25 pods

Once the pods have fallen from the tree, collect 25 representative, dried (brown), whole pods off the ground and put them into one or more plastic grocery bags. The pods should be collected as soon as possible after they fall to the ground to prevent damage from animals. Be sure to choose a representative sample of pods – not the 25 largest! If possible, although not required, please also count the total number of pods that fell from the tree, as this will help calibrate their yield models.

Step 3: Fill out & print the entry form

Fill out the official contest entry form HERE, which includes basic information about you and the tree. You will be able to upload the tree photo here as well. This form will be submitted to the institute digitally, and you will receive a copy via email. Print a paper copy of your emailed entry to include with your pods.

Step 4: Ship your pods & entry form to the Savanna Institute 

Place your bag(s) of pods and entry form into a sturdy cardboard box. Ship your entry to:

Savanna Institute

Attn: Honey Locust Contest

1360 Regent St. #124

Madison, WI 53715

IMPORTANT: If submitting multiple trees/entries, ship each entry separately, using a different box for each. This will ensure that pods from different trees do not mix in transit.

Click HERE for the contest website where there are more details about the contest.


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seedy films

Misleading title perhaps… but for those of you that are curious about seed production, consider checking out this series of tutorials by Martina Widmer et Sylvie Seguin from the Coopérative Longomaï and the Forum Civique Européen.

Beautifully captured, this series takes you through all the stages of seed production for 32 different crops.

There are a ton of great books out there on seed saving, but it can be a bit of a challenge to find such consistent and well documented video tutorials.

And if you want a little more inspiration for why you might consider saving seed, have a look at this lovely post by greenhorns contributor Sophie Mendelson.

 


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the seed we need: there’s not enough

Portrait

Outside right now, in central Massachusetts, it’s 5 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s a thin crust of fresh snow on the ground, and the trees are brown and bare. But in the flood of seed catalogues that have been flowing into the farmhouse mailbox over the past few months, it’s summer. Peas are fat in the pod, the lettuce is in full flush, and eggplants hang heavy, shiny, and purple. All the grass is green. There are flowers everywhere.

It’s into this imagination land of color and warmth that we’ve been burrowing throughout the coldest season as we attempt to tease out a concrete organic crop plan from this fantasy of perfect bounty. But as with any fantasy, there are limitations to this one’s ability to deliver on it’s promise: our land is not perfect land, our soils are not perfect soils, we are not perfect growers, and the weather, inevitably, will not behave perfectly for our purposes.

Even more than the obvious disparities, however, these catalogues are limited in that they bely the true nature of their industry. Abundance, diversity, and choice: this is what we hope to achieve in the crop plan for this farm’s organic vegetable CSA, and that is what the seed catalogues are selling us. But the reality of the seed industry is not that. The reality of the seed industry is this:

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Consolidation is the name of the game when it comes to seed, and nothing suppresses abundant diversity and choice like the concentration of research funding and intellectual property rights into the hands of just a few. Despite the existence of a select number of seed companies that cater to the needs of small-scale, diversified, and/or organic farmers, and despite the considerable (and still growing) market for organic seed, the actual supply of attainable organic genetics is quite small. And without sufficient organic seed, the hardiness of organic agriculture starts to look—well, considerably less hardy.

According to the Organic Seed Alliance’s 2016 report, most organic farmers still rely on conventional seed because they can’t find organic versions of the varieties they need […] The result for farmers is not simply compromised principles and reliance on regulatory exemptions, but a reservoir of organic germplasm whose quality, in addition to scale, is inadequate to their needs.

The reasoning here is partly ideological, partly regulatory, and partly (the biggest part) due to the nature of seed, explains Tyson Neukirch, former head grower at the Farm School. Growing with organic seed means supporting the growth of the organic seed industry—an act of solidarity as well as self-interest. Increased demand ought to lead to increased supply of organic seed, and increased supply enables organic farmers to better comply with organic certifiers who are becoming more stringent with their requirement that organic-certified farmers use organic seed unless, as the USDA National Organic Program puts it, “an equivalent organically produced variety is not commercially available.”

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mountain west seed summit, santa fe, nm, march 3-4

glassgem

Mountain West Seed Summit
“Honoring Origins and Seeding the Future”
March 3 – 4, 2017
Santa Fe, New Mexico – Hotel Santa Fe

Join Seed Stewards from the Mountain West and beyond for three days of seed knowledge and networking in beautiful Santa Fe.

The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the McCune Foundation, presents a two-day summit and one-day field trip focused on training and inspiring seed producers across the Rocky Mountain region. The Mountain West Seed Summit will include presentations, demonstrations, hands-on activities, lively discussions, seed exchanges, art, music, and more!

Additional local partners include SeedBroadcast which will be capturing and sharing seed stories and hosting a seed poetry slam, and Squash Blossom which will be providing incredible local food and cuisine.


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is the world bank in with monsanto?

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ATTN: Organizations, academics, and activists!

California-based independent Think Tank, the Oakland Institute is calling for signatories to help put pressure on the World Bank to stop promoting policies that favor (and are deeply influenced by) agri-giants like Monsanta and Syngenta in ways that may support countries in passing laws that dramatically limit small farmers’ rights to save, sell, and exchange seeds. It takes no stretch of the imagination to envision the repercussions that this type of global policy might have on small food systems, the viability of small farming in developing countries, seed sovereignty in sustainable ag, and biodiversity worldwide. Continue reading


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help this rad lady plant 72 rare varieties of heirloom wheat, sunday sept. 11, colrain, ma

Eli-Rogosa

Heritage Wheat Planting Festival
Sunday, Sept 11 from 11 to 4, 4 pm potluck
400 Adamsville Rd, Colrain, MA
Join us for a community planting festival! I need help to plant 72 rare
varieties of landrace wheat, that include the almost-extinct ancient grains of Eretz Israel and Europe that I collected when working with the Israel and EU gene banks*. Many hands make light work. Each person will receive free heritage wheat seeds offered on growseed.org and the joy of being part of a network to restore ancient grain traditions.
*see: growseed.org/wheat.html and attached.
Contact: Eli Rogosa
website: growseed.org
author of ‘Restoring Heritage Grains’
published by chelseagreen.com
grains of ancient Israel


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mendocino permaculture’s 33rh annual winter abundance workshop

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Mendocino Permaculture’s 33rd Annual
Winter Abundance Workshop

Saturday January 30, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
at the Fairgrounds in Boonville

Just a little less a week now until the Mendocino Permaculture’s Winder Abundance Workshop! The event is free and fantastic! Head on over to the Facebook event page for a schedule of events, carpooling schemes, and volunteering information. Among other great offerings, the workshop hosts an extensive seed and scion exchange and sells over 500 different kinds of root stocks of fruit and plants specifically selected for the climate range.

Food and beverages will be available to purchase and organizers are asking everyone to bring their own ware for eating. For more information please call Barbara/Rob at 707 895-3897, Richard 459-5926, or Mark at 463-8672.