By Deborah Taj Anapol
With food prices skyrocketing and interest in sustainable, organic agriculture growing, Seed Exchanges attract a growing number of local farmers and home gardeners. Whether you are an experienced gardener or new to digging in the dirt, now is the time to start saving and sharing your own seeds. Chances are, where ever you live, there is an annual seed exchange near you.
Seed Exchanges offer the opportunity to talk with people who are already growing their own food, discuss all the “how to’s” and receive free seeds, roots, or cuttings saved by local gardeners.
The key words to remember for seed storage are “cool, dark, and dry.” In Hawaii, seed absolutely has to be kept dry, and either frozen or refrigerated or the viable life of the seed is very much shorter.
Nancy Redfeather organized the first Kona Seed Exchange in 2003 with the help of her students because she recognized the need for people to start growing more food and improving and saving open-pollinated food crops. This year, in cooperation with The Kohala Center, she organized a state wide symposium on seed saving. “We can’t wait for the government,” she says. “Home gardens provide the highest quality food possible, increasing our health, reducing our food costs, providing exercise, helping to raise soil fertility and heal the land.”
Redfeather is concerned that “Ninety-five per cent of all open-pollinated vegetable varieties that were grown in 1900 had been lost by 2005. That is a huge loss for future food diversity!”
Open pollinated seed, unlike hybrids or GMO seed can be grown, selected, and saved for replanting. “Not many people do it anymore,” says Redfeather. “If we lose this skill then all seed would have to come from the mainland, and we are vulnerable to any disruptions. In order to become more food self-reliant we need to relearn how to grow many different kinds of foods.”