13th Biannual Kaua`i Community Seed and Plant Exchange
Saturday, April 19th 2014 Noon-5pm
Waipā Foundation in Hanalei
Welcome to the seed and plant exchange! Whether you are a season veteran or brand new, we’re sure that youʻll have an enjoyable and rewarding experience. This is truly a community created event, and we want you to know how much we appreciate your effort and generosity. Over the years we’ve co-created a system for the day that really works well, as volunteers plug in where they are inspired and called. Here is our basic schedule for the day:
• 10am-noon ((Setup and preparation))
• 11am ((Volunteer Meeting))
• Noon-2pm Arrival and check-in of seed & plant material
& talk story with other gardeners & farmers
• 2pm Pule (Group blessing)
• 2-3:15pm Seed & Plant Exchange!
• 3:15-4pm Presentations
• 4-5pm More talk story time and begin cleanup
• 5:30pm Cleanup completed
Setup and Preparation
Beginning at 10am, we set up tables and benches, information booths, and other event infrastructure. If you would like to volunteer during a portion of the event, try to make it to the 11am volunteer orientation meeting. This is when we get to meet our fellow teammates and firm up our coordination. Being a volunteer at the exchange is one of the most enjoyable parts of the day for many.
Arrival and check-in of seed & plant material & talk story with other gardeners
For those of us bringing seeds, cuttings, or potted plants to share, please arrive with ample time to unload your offerings and get them submitted to the exchange with assistance from our plant material check-in stewards. You will be supplied a blank information card to fill in for each variety you have brought to share. Try to supply as much information as you can about the variety, including common and botanical names, location and season grown, growth habit if not obvious (for example herb, vine, shrub, tree), and anything special or notable about the species or variety, including flavor, color, size, medicinal or cultural uses, your contact if desired, etc. The check-in stewards will help to confirm that your seeds and plants are free of pest and diseases (see Preparing Seeds, Cuttings, Plants for more information). Your offerings will be received and placed in the appropriate areas for the exchange–generally seeds and cuttings inside or under cover, and potted plants outside. Bringing plant material to share is encouraged but not required to participate. Once you have checked-in, visit the educational booths, get some food, and enjoy the company of other gardeners and farmers who’ve come to the exchange: connecting with others who share our passion for growing is a key aspect of this event.
Pule (Group Blessing)
At 2pm, the sweet tones of a harmonic bowl will signal that it’s time to pause our conversations and join hands in a circle of appreciation and heartfelt thanksgiving for the invaluable gift that the plants give to us. Aloha `aina (deep love for the land and its bounty) is our unifying purpose as we send our prayers to the seeds and plants that are about to join our `ohana (family). Then, at the sound of the bell and with great exuberance, the seed and plant exchange begins!
It has been described as a plant potluck party–now is the time to fill your baskets with a wealth of locally adapted plant material for growing at your home, school or workplace. Seed envelopes are available for a nominal donation. Make sure to mark down the information contained on the check-in cards including the date…you’ll be glad you did in the months and years to come, when you want to be able to identify the precise qualities and suitability of that variety for your intended use. We have 3 general requests about your gathering of seeds, cuttings, and plants at the exchange:
1. Please wait until after the group blessing is given to take seeds & plants. This gives everyone a fair and equal chance to share in the abundance that’s been brought to share. It also allows us to bless all the plant material with our good intentions and gratitude, and these blessings are part of what you receive when you take seeds and plants home.
2. Take no more that 1/4 of each offering. In actual practice you may be taking much less than that. However when supplies are running low, 25% of what’s left may only be 3 seeds of a particular variety. We also want to encourage you to save seeds from your grow out of the variety, and with some plants it’s better to have a population rather than only a couple of individuals, so it may be appropriate for you to take a higher percentage of seeds that remain. In general, help yourself to a smaller amount of potted plants and vegetative cuttings so that there’s enough to go around.
3. Take only what you will grow. In our enthusiasm, it’s tempting to gather as much plant material as we can, spurred on by visions of a massive garden that can accommodate all our new leafy friends. This enthusiasm can easily exceed what’s realistic, and plant material gets wasted (don’t feel bad, it’s happened to all of us at one time or another!). What we’re asking here is for you to make an honest assessment of your ability to plant out what you receive. The seed and plant exchange is for activating our planting activities now, not stashing seeds away until the end of the world arrives. That said, seeds that are properly dried and refrigerated can last for several years, and we encourage you to care for your seeds so that they can be the source of bountiful harvests for many seasons to come.
At each seed exchange, we are treated to a speaker or two that share their particular perspective on seed saving or some other aspect of ecological agriculture and land stewardship. It’s always worth staying after the main hustle and bustle of the exchange to enjoy these presentations and honor the speakers for sharing their expertise with us.
Talk Story and Cleanup
Many hands make light work, and many hearts make the work play. Breaking down tables and benches, sweeping, collecting up compost, recycling and trash–all the things needed to return the event site to a pristine condition–is achieved easily and joyfully with your help. We’re still feeling the glow of the seed exchange; new friends we’ve met and good friends we’ve reconnected with; new ideas and growing techniques we’ve learned and can’t wait to try ourselves. The inspiration we now hold carries us through the next six months, as we make good on our commitment to regenerate these seeds and plants we’ve received, and bring the abundance to share once again at the next seed & plant exchange!
The exchange is an all-volunteer event, and your kōkua (assistance) is welcome and needed. There are a variety of tasks that you can play both during the lead up to, and during the actual event. These include:
- Picking up rental tables and benches in Kapahi and delivering to event site
- Hanging posters and handing out flyers
- Packaging seeds at the Kaua`i Community Seed Bank
- Promoting the event on your social media network
- Day of event
- Set up tables, seating, tents, booths
- Set up signage and banners near the road
- Directing parking and plant material drop-off
- Welcome Team: Invite attendees to sign contact list, write name tags, general orientation
- Seed & Plant Check-in team: helping with filling out plant material information cards, receiving seeds and plants, screening for infested, diseased, or invasive species, organizing seeds, cuttings, and potted plants with labels on tables or other areas
- Regenerations information & merchandise Booth Team
- Cleanup and Breakdown Team: compost/recycling/trash disposal, sweeping/mopping/cleaning, stack tables and benches, take down signage and banners, load vehicles
- Return rented tables and benches to Kapahi
To volunteer before, during, or after the exchange, give us a call at 652-4118.
Preparing Seeds, Cuttings, and Plants for the Exchange
It’s essential that we share our treasured plant varieties with each other, and equally important that we don’t pass along unwanted and sometimes harmful pests, diseases, and GMO-contaminated crops in the process. The first line of defense is to educate ourselves about these problematic organisms so we can identify and deal with them. Seeds should be removed completely from pods or fruit, and be free from insect damage or mold. Sometimes mold is seen as a white or sooty powder, but even if it is not visible, your nose will tell you if the seed is moldy. If so, a bath in half water, half 3% hydrogen peroxide (the kind from the grocery store) for 5 minutes will usually deactivate the mold spores. It may help to rub the seeds together while in the liquid to get them clean. Then blot them dry with a kitchen towel and let them dry in a well-ventilated place. Discard seeds with broken seed coats or holes, and rub off any egg cases that may be attached to the seed coat (most commonly seen on beans like pigeon pea). Cuttings are best made soon before the event, so they don’t dry out or lose vitality (yes, there are always exceptions in nature, like gliricidia or cassava cuttings which can last for months before they are planted if stored properly). Discard any cuttings with dark spots on the stem (disease) or insect entry holes. Taro in particular should be sanitized in a 10% bleach solution and should not come from an area where Apple Snails are present. Bananas need to be free of Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV), and banana corms paired down similar to taro huli to prevent corm borer and nematode spread. Keep cuttings well-ventilated but also moist, removing much of the leaves on the cutting to avoid them drying out. Potted plants present multiple challenges, as pests may be not only on stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit, but also in the pot/under the soil. Ants of various types are a growing threat to our gardens and farms and spread pests, so the best course of action is to move the plants you intend to bring to the exchange to an isolated area a week before the event. Place a few sticks with peanut butter in the pots and in a day you will know if ants are present in your pots. Ants can be dealt with on a pot-by-pot basis by submerging the pot in a bucket or other container of water for 10-20 minutes. Confirm that the ants are vanquished by flipping the pot upside down and removing the pot from the root ball and visually inspecting it. Pest and Disease identification and treatment information is readily available on the web, notably from the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture. One excellent resource is here. Invasive species is a subjective term based on context, for instance tomatoes are listed as invasive in Hawai`i because wild cherry tomatoes compete with native plants for space in coastal habitats. However we should be informed about serious invasive weeds that threaten the delicate balance of our native plant communities and watershed health and make sure not to spread them. hear.org is an excellent resource for specific information about invasive plants and animals in Hawai`i. It’s all of our kuleana (responsibility) to keep these invaders to a minimum. GMO seeds are produced commercially on Kaua`i, so it is possible that the seeds we save here have been ‘accidentally’ contaminated with genetically-modified crops. If you live near the biotech fields, the following crops could be contaminated so best not to bring them to the exchange: corn, soybean, and sunflower. Papaya is also genetically modified in Hawai`i; however papaya tends to self-pollinate and is such an important food security plant for us that we are once again allowing papaya seed at the exchange. for more information on GMO crops in Hawai`i and what’s being done to address the problem go to hawaiiseed.org
The Kaua`i Community Seed & Plant Exchange is a free event, yet actually represents a tremendous amount of coordination and teamwork to pull off. We also have costs to cover like assorted materials, equipment and venue rental, printing, and seed packing, just to name a few. Your financial contributions keep this event happening. Donation jars are located on the seed tables and at the Regenerations booth, where you can also get a tax-deductible receipt if you wish. Thanks in advance for your generosity!