Seed Saving for Kids Provides Framework for Self-Sufficiency, Local Food Production & Nature-Based Education
Spring’s first garden green can often seem like a miracle, but it’s really the fruit of fall’s labors – quite literally. As the growing season winds down, the chillier weather makes way for seeds – rather than endless home-grown foods – to become the center of farmers’ and gardeners’ attention. Learning about all things seed-like is a science exploration that can help children to deepen their understanding of where their food comes from, the anatomy and reproduction of plants, and the specific traits that distinguish one plant variety from another. Additionally, a look at the role that seed saving plays in modern farming and gardening can provide eye-opening insights for older children about the corporate monopolies that control the vast majority of the American seed (and pesticide) market.
As plants dry and turn brown, it may seem to a nature novice that they’re dying a slow, painful, and undignified death after a summer of glorious growth. Before they’re smooshed unceremoniously by snowbanks sometime in late fall, however, these plants have done something very important: spread seeds for the coming spring. Or, at the very least, they’ve produced fruit that has allowed humans to collect and save seeds, so as to grow the plant again in the next growing season. Not only is seed saving a means of achieving self-sufficient food production (or semi-self sufficient, depending on the scale of your operation), it’s a way to preserve the many obscure varieties of plants that have been cultivated by humans for generations. Today’s seed supply – including the hundreds and hundreds of varieties preserved by seed banks – includes only a small fraction of the thousands of varieties once cultivated for food.
By learning to save seeds, children can take an active role in helping beautiful, delicious, and fascinating varieties of fruits and vegetables stick around – in our gardens, on our plates, and in our bellies – for generations to come. And in doing so, they’ll get lots of solid hands-on experience with gardening, plant anatomy, and proper seed (and perhaps food) preservation techniques. A handful of upcoming community events offer valuable opportunities for families to learn about seed saving and to participate in community-based seed saving projects. In attending an event (or two, or three), families are sure to learn skills and information, and will be able to build a foundation of knowledge upon which to begin their own seed saving practices. Additionally, local organizations, Backyard Seeds and Hilltown Seed Savers, are local resources for seeds and seed-saving information, educational programs, and support for beginning seed-savers.
For further seed-related learning, check out these titles: