SSE Convention [long]

The Seed Saver's Exchange 2003 campout and convention, 7/18-20/2003.
First, this is an entirely subjective view from an entirely subjective guy. Other folks may have attended an entirely different convention. You have been warned. Up front: I have always (having attended two of these, I'm an "old hand" now) found the "honored guests" to be very accessible, and anyway, I think a large part of the benefit of these things is the "cross pollination" effect between us commoners. You _may_ find a garlic bias here...
Decorah wasn't as hot as last year, which they tell me is unusual, so the camping in a lovely meadow at the foot of a limestone cliff was wonderful, though I can't understand why some folks pitch their tents right next to the sani-john. There are several motels in Decorah itself, and a number of folks stayed there. Wimps.
Lots of workshops on various topics. I went for the "demanding" walk through the expanded valley.... Heritage Farm was able to acquire an adjoining 700 acres, most of which is completely free of buildings, power poles, cell phone towers, etc. If you overlook the corn peeping over one ridge and the fence confining the ancient White Cape cattle, it looks just like it did hundreds of years ago. Walks through an ancient orchard and up the both sides of a valley were beautiful as well as good aerobic exercise... I'll only admit to falling on my keister twice (once helped by a fallen tree in the grass), and point out that there were people even slower than me. Not many. Well, one... Dan Busey, the apple grafting guy, is already trying out how to map out that old orchard and figure out what the trees might be. In some cases, he's found records of what was in such. The really big deal about the expansion is that some seed production that now needs caging plants can be done in isolation there.
William Woys Weaver was the keynote speaker, talking about his passion for food history and how various plants figured into the various societies. Wonderful stuff, and a list of things I absolutely have to try that give me powerful incentive to take good care of myself. There's several lifetimes of things to grow and try! Chatting later, he admitted that his garden in Pennsylvania was rapidly turning into a jungle, and I made the obligatory "So Martha Stewart isn't allowed?" comment. The reply, "Actually, she wants to shoot a piece there..." Martha hasn't asked to cover _my_ garden, even as a "what not to do" segment.
Great talk by Fred Schneider, U of ND Anthropology Professor on "Native American gardening and the Oscar H. Will Seed Company." Much better than it sounds, with lots of information on where our modern corn came from, and more additions to the "must grow" list.
I've never been a melon enthusiast, but Amy Goldman pretty well convinced me I should try. Hmm... maybe that "back 40" plot could grow some melons?
Deborah Madison talked about "The Joy of Making Big Connections," which really came down to why what we do is so important in a day when a few big companies clearly want to dominate the world seed and therefore food supply. She's one of the contributors to "Slow Food." Something else to read and digest, right after I till up some new plots!
John Swenson on garlic... held in the loft of a barn in which SSE's garlic crop was hanging to cure... not a vampire for miles! I met John last summer, so the urge to kiss his feet has subsided just a bit, but it's a little daunting to hear "Oh, those wild garlics grow two feet deep in dry stream beds in Russia; we had to settle for taking some topsets, because we couldn't dig down to the main bulb." Tidbit of the day: The main healthful ingredient in garlic, allicin, is made only when the bulb is crushed or chopped, and is quite short-lived. None of the available pills have a useful amount of it. If you really want to get with it, eat a raw clove or two a day. If your friends object, get new friends.
I'll not spend too much time on Saturday night dinner which was excellent or Sunday breakfast (off-premises) which was iffy, but I surely didn't grow hungry, even though I should once in a while. The barn dance was a good antidote, with live music of the country, swing, and what a friend once called "gluebrass." (That's anything with a five-string and a mandolin). I was in a lot more cheerful mood this year than last... time does indeed go on.
This is already longer than I intended, so I'll skip over a visit to Spillville just down the road (Some musician spent a year there; finished up a symphony a few folks have heard of), and the seed swap sessions which I resisted (NOT!). Well worth the trip; when I get pictures up, I'll post a much shorter message with the link.
Yours in bad breath,
Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at www.albany.net/~gwoods Zone 5/6 in upstate New York, 1200' elevation. NY WO G
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Gary Woods wrote:

SSE, eh?
Bill
--
Zone 5b (Detroit, MI)
I do not post my address to news groups.
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