What I did this summer [long]

There are a few (very few) pictures here, just pictures in a folder; nothing fancy. My abject apologies for not taking more. http://home.earthlink.net/~garygarlic/images/SSE2010 / First of all, the Seed Saver's Exchange www.seedsavers.org has been around for 35 years, starting as a small group of like-minded loonies who thought saving seed from old vegetable varieties, many not available from commercial sources, was a Good Idea. As will happen with such ventures, it grew steadily over the years, eventually settling at a farm near Decorah, Iowa. [Warning: I digress. A lot] Northeast Iowa is NOT what most folks think of as "Iowa," I..E. Zillions of acres of corn and soybeans, though there is a lot of that. The topography is rolling limestone hills, more like Minnesota, which is just next door to the north. Since the beginning, SSE has been holding a campout convention in mid-July, and I've been attending since I retired in 2002. There are always seminars on subjects of interest, speakers, demonstrations, and most important, a couple hundred of the aforementioned loonies to talk with (now called "networking"). Years ago at a seminar put on by RCA on broadcast video gear (you were warned, right?) the instructor said he felt eighty percent of the education happened in the coffee breaks. And so it is at SSE. The speakers were great: Diane Ott Whealy, co-founder of SSE, Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale, Inc, Dr. Kenneth Street, heirloom seed hunter and subject of a NatGeo special "The Seed Hunter" There were classes ranging from how to grow and list heirloom seeds in the SSE yearbook to how and why to graft vegetable plants. For the past couple of years, there has been a kids' program, since there are many more younger folk attending, and a fresh atmosphere that I hadn't seen the first years. Typical moment and mini-digression: I was on a tour of the new seed processing building (SSE gets about 60% of its income from retail seed sales now), admiring the new pneumatic seed envelope packing machine, when I noticed a familiar looking fellow in the tour group. I thought, "I know I've never met him, but he looks very, very familiar." Looked at his name tag: "Rob Johnston, Albion, Maine" Which most of us will recognize as the founder of Johnny's Selected Seeds. He's also a member of the board of SSE, which I consider a Good Thing. I sat and chatted a while with John Swenson, amazing garlic maven and researcher into ancient foods. I brought a number of packets of Rutabaga and Daikon seed that I've been raising for a while for the swap table, and noted with pleasure that they all disappeared fairly quickly. Brought home some "Hutterite soup beans" to add to the garden next year, and resisted as best I could the "kid in the candy store" syndrome at that swap table. There were hay wagon rides out through the pasture that house a herd of ancient White Park cattle- after the last round of acquisitions, Heritage Farm is just under a thousand acres- and a popular Sunday morning birdwalk. For the first time this year, the campout was open to none-members as well; probably a good thing, since heirloom gardening is more infectious than late blight. Attendees can camp on the grounds as I did (The early Sunday morning Thunderstorm was .erm...interesting), stay at local motels, or get inexpensive dorm rooms at nearby Luther College. Kudos to Patti my dear partner for putting up with this obsession, and even encouraging it ("Honey, is there enough Basil for me to make some more pesto?"), even while she isn't thrilled that plants grow in dirt, much of which travels with me in a little pigpen cloud. In these days of more and more of our food supply being controlled by ever fewer and bigger corporations, I feel the Seed Saver's Exchange is an absolute necessity to ensure that the foundations of our food remain in diverse private hands. Parallels to "Fahrenheit 451"come to mind from time to time, so you can call me "Macomber Rutabaga." Thanks for listening. Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at home.earthlink.net/~garygarlic Zone 5/4 in upstate New York, 1420' elevation. NY WO G
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Thanks for the report of concerning your summer and seed savers Macomber Rutabaga. I'd like a follow up in about 5 or 10 years. Have a feeling 10 years may offer a tipping point for appreciation of some traditional ways of gardening. However I may be delusional. I've not met anyone under 30 years of age with an interest in gardening. So your post is inspiring. It is something Ingrid and I do and my father did. Show by example is sort of impacting my oldest and we keep giving them plants and occasional fresh vegetables. Gut says my canning equipment may be called to duty. ;))
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
What use one more wake up call?
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