Seed School Online is a culmination of Bill McDorman’s 30 years in the seed movement inspiring people everywhere to rejoin the ancient ritual of seed saving. In 2010 Bill and his wife Belle Starr developed a six-day training called Seed School which has graduated more than 600 people from around the world. Seed School Online, a seven-week signature course, is an attempt to make the training available to everyone, wherever you may be. Since September of 2010, we have graduated over 600 students in our six-day and one-day Seed School program. Bill has been inspiring people to save seeds for over 30 years. Just before launching Seed School, he realized he had become the person he was looking for when he got started 30 years ago. He was starting his first bio-regional seed company and a mentor was nowhere to be found. Now the resources and support have been coalesced in Seed School Online. You will meet others, hear their stories and find out how they took their seed knowledge to the next level by starting small seed companies, seed libraries or exchanges. Technical guidance and even hands on experience (really in an online series?) will have you scurrying to your garden where the knowledge gained will be put to use. And of course you will be completing a very important cycle. Adding seed saving into your activities brings you full circle in connecting with a crucial part of the growing process. What could be more satisfying? Over the seven weeks we have together we will dive deeply into some inspiring topics. Have no fear. Even genetics will be unpacked in a way you might just understand. Ready to join this exploding evolution? We look forward to guiding you through this life-changing experience.
Where Are We?
In order to understand why seeds are so important, we need to review the global circumstances surrounding seeds, where we have been historically, where we are today and where we hope to be in the future. Once we create a context to the seed movement and the patenting of these tiny gems of life, you will start to understand the issues we are encountering in farming, our food system and in countries around the world. This information can be liberating. At the same time this new awareness can be shocking. Have no fear! The spirit, magic and power of the seeds themselves will save us. We will spend a good chunk of time anchoring into the power, the art, the science and craft of seed saving. You will feel empowered as you start to understand your place in the process.
So Now What?
Now that we know what we know, what is next? We’ll uncover the hierarchy of the modern seed industry. Do the seed companies we buy from actually grow their own seeds? How do I find the best local company that can start me on my seed saving adventure with good open-pollinated seed stock? As you are learning the structure of modern seed enterprises, you will also get a primer on basic seed terms and how to navigate around choices that will work for you. This will include a recap of high school biology by way of Mendel’s Genetics. No seed steward will be left behind! There will be plenty of time for Q&A. After we learn how colors, characteristics and traits happen genetically, we will show you how to select your own seeds and evaluate them for the things you want to encourage. How exciting!
The practical aspects of seed saving will be covered by focusing on pollination, breeding, harvesting, storage and germination. We really love our pollinators. You will become one. The idea is to get your mind down into the stigmas, styles and anthers of this fun and food producing activity. You will join the ranks of beneficial insects, wind and hitch-hiking seeds. Spacing and hedge row ideas, q-tips and small paint brushes will all end up in your new tool box. Let’s say you prefer to spend your time hiking in the wilderness, yet still want to join the seed saving tradition. One of the most satisfying parts of seed saving can be harvesting seeds from wild plants. We’ll cover the rules, give you some specific tips on which plants to find, and show you how to time travel to both identify and collect seeds on the same outing!
Home seed saver, small bioregional seed company, seed library organizer, seed educator, what’s it going to be? How will you share your seeds and what you learn? What is your responsibility? How do we become good seed citizens? Stories from other successful seed stewards will help provide the inspiration and structure for you to take your next steps. Resources, handouts and links will allow you to choose the right path and continue on the path to success. You will be able to move your seed wisdom and expertise into your backyard, your community and the world.
- The Spirit, Magic and Power of Seeds
- Your Questions
- History and Structure of the Modern Seed Industry
- Basic Terms
- Intro to Mendel's Genetics
- Selection and Evaluation
- Germination Testing
- Wild Seed
- Collection Rules
- Collection Techniques
- Seed Enterprises
- Seed Exchanges
- Seed Libraries
- Small Seed Businesses