Winter Book Reading Club

The first meeting for the Seed Saving Network’s Winter Reading Club will be on Thursday, Dec. 12th at 7:00, in the Sustainability Library, upstairs at the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington. We will be reading Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties by Carol Deppe. We’re encouraging people to buy their copy at the Creamery, as they special ordered a bunch for us.

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Virtual Seed Bank!

The Hilltown Seed Saving Network now has a Virtual Seed Bank so we can list seeds to share, search for local seeds we need, or even just share information about what we’re growing, what works and what doesn’t.

Visit the Virtual Seed Bank, sign up and take advantage of this great community resource! Not sure how to use it? Download the user manual, watch the video, or email Rose or email Coureton for assistance.

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Seed Exchange Coming Soon!

The Hilltown Seed Saving Network is pleased to announce its second annual Fall Seed Exchange, on Saturday, November 23rd at the Community House, 33 Main Street, Cummington.  Learn to save your own garden seed, get answers to your seed saving questions, and exchange seed that you’ve saved with your friends and neighbors!

Please note that you don’t have to bring seed to come to this event.  We welcome people at all levels of experience, including those who have never saved seed before.

In fact, this year, the main event will be preceded by an introductory seed saving workshop from 12 noon to 1pm, taught by Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm.

The seed exchange itself will run from 1:00 to 4:00 pm (see the detailed schedule of events below), and will include a fun and interactive preview of our plans for next year.  And, of course, there will be plenty of time to browse and help yourself to the dozens of home grown varieties of tomatoes, beans, kale, wildflowers, and many other crops.

This year, you can come to the Community House as early as 10:30am to drop off seed.  We ask people to refrain from taking seed until 2:15pm; this will give us time to organize and display people’s contributions.  There will be exhibits, presentations, and yummy food to keep you entertained while you are waiting!

Also, we encourage everyone who is bringing seed to the event to list it online using our Virtual Seed Bank here: http://seednetwork.herokuapp.com.   Once you have registered (a quick and easy process), you will be able to browse varieties that other people in the Hilltowns are saving, and bringing to the Seed Exchange.

The suggested donation for this event is a sliding scale of $5 – $10.

For more information, visit hilltownseeds.wordpress.org; or contact Sadie at 413-634-5013, or Michael at 413-358-6919 or alterman@speakeasy.net.

Schedule of Events

12:00 to 1:00  For beginners or those who want a refresher:  Take our introductory seed saving workshop, with Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield.   Tevis is an experienced and knowledgeable seed-saver, whose farm operations include producing seed commercially for Fedco Seeds.

1:00 to 1:30  Arrive, drop off seeds, have a snack, schmooze.  Check out a seed sprouting exhibit, as well as informational booths of the Non-GMO Working Group, Raspberry Hill Community Garden, Master Gardeners, and more.

1:30 to 2:15  Gather for a presentation about our plans for next year, including our Winter Book Group, which will read and discuss Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties by Carol Deppe.  We are planning for this part of the afternoon to be fun and interactive, as well as informative.

2:15 to 4:00  Finally!  Have a go at the seed tables–last year, there were four large tables filled dozens of varieties of many different garden crops and wildflower species.  HSSN members will also be around to answer seed saving questions.

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Summer Workshops

Seed Saving: Beets & Brassicas, Sunday, June 30th 2pm-4pm.

This workshop will give an overview of seed saving practices and theories, with a focus on two families of crops: chenopods and brassicas, both of which are dry seed crops, and are often biennials.

Saving your own seed doesn’t have to be intimidating. Relying on commercial sources of seed prevents you from accessing many varieties that may be ideal for your farm or garden. In addition, saving seed allows you to become a breeder, selecting for traits that are important to you that professional breeders may not be thinking about.

We will look at and talk about several different seed saving projects that we are doing this summer, including beets, chard, arugula, and turnips. We will look at a few different seed crops in different stages of growth, to see how different plants mature. Overwintering, selection, isolation, and harvest and seed cleaning methods will all be discussed.

This workshop will be given by Tevis Robertson-Goldberg at Crabapple Farm, 100 Bryant Street, Chesterfield.

Suggested donation: $10

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As you grow, keep seed saving in mind!

While you’re growing this summer, don’t forget to save up seed for this fall’s Seed Exchange!  It will be on Saturday, November 23rd, 2013, at the Cummington Community House, 33 Main St., Cummington, MA.  Bring your seeds and see what your neighbors have been growing.  It’s a great time to share seeds and knowledge about what’s working and what’s being adapted to our local climate.

And as you start to store up your seeds, don’t forget to list them in our new Virtual Seed Bank.  Whether you have enough to share or not, it’s a great way for us to organize our efforts and share knowledge as a community. The Virtual Seed Bank was developed by volunteer code developers Lou Franco and Beryl Hoffman along with web designer Rose Wessel at the Hack for Western MA Hackathon this summer.

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Garden Variety Forum

Hilltown Seed Saving Network presents

A Garden Variety Forum

Sunday, February 3rd 1-4pm

Cummington Community House

33 Main St, Cummington, MA

Moderated by Tevis Robertson-Goldberg, Crabapple Farm

Forget the snow, Think Spring! It’s time to think about what we’re going to put in our gardens this year. Garden catalogs present us with many options – but how do you choose? This is going to be a community discussion of what vegetable varieties we have found that work best in our gardens. No one can try growing everything, but we can learn from our neighbors. Share your favorites, as well as what didn’t work out. Learn from someone else’s mistakes, and find out about a great variety that you’ve never tried. Feel free to bring your favorite seed catalogs.

We will focus on open pollinated varieties that we could save seed from ourselves, especially ones that are particularly well adapted to our area. We’ll discuss what tastes best, what has the best disease resistance or is the earliest to ripen or is most productive – and where to find the seed (or seedlings). Expect to hear many opinions, because everyone’s experience is different!

We’ll begin at 1pm with an introduction to seed saving, why it is important, how to save seed from a few crops, and how to learn more. We’ll end the Garden Variety Forum by collectively identifying what crops are the most important to our community to save seed from, and discussing ways to collaborate over the season to come on seed saving and general gardening efforts.

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Seed Exchange!

The Hilltown Seed Saving Network is pleased to announce its first annual seed exchange.  Learn to save your own garden seed, get answers to your seed saving questions, and exchange seed that you’ve saved with your friends and neighbors!

The seed exchange will take place on Saturday, November 17th from 1:00 to 4:30pm at the Cummington Community House, 33 Main Street, Cummington, Mass.  Suggested donation: sliding scale $5 – $10.

For more information, contact Michael at 413-358-6919 or alterman@speakeasy.net.

Schedule of Events

Times are approximate.  In between events, there will be time for people to exchange ideas with friends and neighbors who are saving garden seed, browse a selection of free seeds, and learn more about related projects such as the Heritage Grain Conservancy.

1:00 Welcome from Ed Stockman, biologist, organic farmer, and activist with the Hilltown Non-GMO Working Group

1:30 Seed saving workshop with Tevis Roberston-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm, an organic farm in Chesterfield.  The workshop will be aimed at beginners, but will include new material not covered in Tevis’s June 30th workshop.  Tevis is an experienced and knowledgeable seed-saver, whose farm operations include producing seed commercially for Fedco Seeds.

3:30 Panel discussion and seed-saving Q&A session.  This is your chance to get answers to all your seed saving questions from a panel of experts!  We will also consider the importance of seed saving efforts in the Hilltowns in the context of regional seed production and food security issues.  We are privileged to be joined for this discussion by CR Lawn of Fedco Seeds and Eli Rogosa of the Heritage Grain Conservancy.

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