The Duke Farms “Community Seeds” program is designed to mentor a group of gardeners throughout the entire growing season. Workshops will provide foundational knowledge, assistance with planning, and demonstration of seed-saving techniques. We aim to produce and save seeds of several crops, with the resulting seed harvest shared among all program members.
Series Dates, Topics & Locations:
April 4 @ 9:00am to 11:30am - The Art and Practice of Seed Saving: An Introduction to Seed Saving (Farm Barn Classroom)
This class provides the foundational information needed to successfully save seeds from garden vegetables and ornamentals. Topics include: taxonomy, botany, pollination methods and mating systems, seed development and maturation, isolation, population size, and harvesting and cleaning seeds.
April 4 @ 12:30pm to 2:30pm - Planning the Seed Garden (Farm Barn Classroom &Community Garden)
The Community Seeds annual planting plan will be discussed and crop specific seed-saving instructions will be given out. Seed stewards will be identified and assigned to each planting. Plants and seeds of cool-season crops will be available for participants.
May 16 @ 9:00am to 11:30am - Sowing Seeds: Seed Garden Planting Day (Community Garden)
All program participants will be asked to help plant seed crops in the Education Garden and in select Giving Gardens. Seed-saving tasks and timelines will be reviewed with each seed steward.
June 13 @ 9:00am to 11:30 am - Garden Smarter: Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners (Farm Barn Classroom & Community Garden)
This class will discuss the importance of variety trials and explain the basics of evaluating vegetable varieties. Participants will learn how to use and upload information to Cornell University’s Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website. Class participants will begin the process of evaluating varieties that are growing in the garden.
July 11 @ 9:00am to 11:30 am - Setting Seed: Pollination Methods and Mating Systems(Farm Barn Classroom & Community Garden)
Class discussion will focus on pollen flow and ways to manage pollination in order to produce true-to-type seeds. Techniques for controlling pollination (hand-pollination, caging, and blossom-bagging) will be demonstrated. Community Seeds plantings will be scouted for potential problems.
August 15 @ 9:00am to 11:30 am - Staying True: Variety Maintenance (Farm Barn Classroom & Community Garden)
Class discussion will cover rogueing and selection as critical aspects of saving true-to-type seeds. Seed crops will again be scouted for potential problems and seed quality, seed health, and seed-borne diseases will be discussed. In preparation for the next workshop, seed maturity indicators will be discussed.
September 12 @ 9:00am to 11:30am - Gathering: Garden Seed Collection Techniques (Community Garden)
This workshop will focus on different methods of harvesting and drying seeds. The class will discuss ripeness indicators and how to best gauge seed maturity. Once-over and staggered harvesting will be compared, and the differences between harvesting dry-fruited and fleshy-fruited crops will be reviewed. Seeds at the proper stage for collection will be gathered from the gardens, and some wet-processing of fleshy-fruited crops will be performed.
October 24 @ 9:00am to 11:30am - Thresh and Winnow: Cleaning Garden Seeds (Farm Barn Classroom)
This workshop will focus on different methods of drying and cleaning seeds. The group will clean seeds of various Community Seed harvests. Threshing methods (hand-shelling, stripping, treading, flailing) will be demonstrated. Equipment will be brought to screen and winnow dry-fruited crops. Methods will emphasize the use of tools and materials found in the common household.
Novemeber 14 @ 9:00am to 11:30am - Seed Swap, Season Review, and Planning for 2016 (Farm Barn Classroom)
This gathering is intended to give all participants an opportunity to review and discuss the successes and failures encountered throughout the season. Participants’ seed-saving logs will be collated to form the basis of Duke Farms Community Seeds catalog. Seed harvests will be shared amongst participants and distribution of excess seeds will be planned. Preliminary planting plans for 2016 will be drafted. Gardeners will be asked to provide feedback about the program and suggest changes for following years.
Cost: $120 per person for the general public ($100 per person for Community Garden Members).