Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Is it me, or was that place a little seedy?

Have you ever tasted a really amazing tomato from the farmers' market or your neighbor's back yard? Ever wonder how to save seeds from it and grow your own? Okay, sure, I don't have food plants in my backyard plot *yet* -- I just (re)weeded it and loosened the soil this morning -- but when I do, I want to know how to save and share some seeds from the heirloom varieties I'm hoping to grow. Last night I learned just that while meeting a number of other sustainable food and community building types at a workshop at the Emergence Community Arts Collective. The process is a little more sophisticated than simply smearing a hunk of tomato on a paper bag (which was all of the guidance I'd previously acquired on the subject), but I am happy to say that it wasn't as difficult or mysterious as I'd feared. In fact, it was pretty fun.

A few days ago my friend Arkady mentioned a free seed saving workshop that was being given by Ecolocity -- a transition town activist group based here in DC -- with the help of a small Washington Parks and People grant for materials (but alas no money for the instructors, who do the work out of the goodness of their hearts). After an intro talk about the importance of saving seeds that might've been subtitled "Top 10 reasons why Monsanto sucks" -- sing it, sister -- the workshop leader got down to the business at hand: how to save our own seeds for planting the following growing season. With our packet of info that included step-by-step instructions and tips for harvesting and storing the tiny treasures, the motley crew of participants split into three smaller groups to collect seeds from tomatoes, peppers, and watermelons. I chose tomatoes, partly because I'd heard they were the most challenging and partly because I have tomatoes on my countertop right now that may be contenders for seed saving. (And, okay, also partly because I was hoping to nibble on the leftover heirloom beauties once we removed the seeds. I'd stopped for a beer at Meridian Pint en route to the gathering and was feeling a bit peckish: the tomatoes looked the most delicious and substantial of the three options.)

I like hands-on learning, and this was exactly the kind of practical experience I was hoping for. Slice, scoop, ferment, rinse, dry, store. I made the rounds, ultimately departing with a jar of fermenting tomato seeds, a baggie of freshly harvested pepper seeds, and a bellyful of watermelon. I can't wait to start my first batch of these seeds next winter on my windowsill. In the meantime, I look forward to attending other workshops that Ecolocity is planning in coming months, including one on canning (so I can enjoy tomatoes and apples and such through the winter) and lasagna composting (to build richer organic soil, and for which my parents' back yard may be my test plot over the winter, heh heh).

For those interested in getting a copy of the instruction packet or list of additional resources on seed saving, drop me an e mail and I'll see if I can send you a scanned copy -- it seems like a pretty open-source kind of group. Or you can contact Ecolocity directly via their website or facebook page. Now should you be looking for a few *recipes* for the remains of your post-seed-harvested veggies, definitely shoot me an e mail. Anytime. I can think of about 26 for fresh tomatoes off the top of my head. Caprese salad with fresh basil... bruschetta with fennel fronds... gazpacho... roasted tomato and mint salsa... grilled cornbread crust pizzas... tomato corn salad... curried eggplant and tomato saute.... Oh look, it's time for a snack!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Arkady told me about your blog and I'm so glad you covered our workshop! I also love the title of your blog.

    As for the workshop handouts, I've actually just posted them here on our website:

    Please let me know if you have any questions!


Thanks for your comment! Just making sure this isn't spam.... Thanks for your patience. :)Ibti