Progress report for LS21-351
We will create an online course to promote seed-saving among Southeastern farmers. The course will utilize high production value videos and social-media tools to increase farmer engagement and build a community of seed savers with a focus on Southeastern climate and economy. We will publish content across many social media channels as individual members of the Southeast Seed Network, a voluntarily coordinated association of farmers and researchers across the Southeast.
Our course curriculum will cover seed-selection techniques for preserving and developing regionally adapted cultivars. Videos will take an explicit systems perspective, noting that the same ecological forces which entail that diverse gene pools create more resilient populations also entail that distributed networks of seed growers create a more resilient food system. The course will highlight both the sustainability benefits and economic opportunities associated with seed-saving.
Educational outcomes depend as much on the quality of the learning environment as the quality of the curriculum, so we will put emphasis on creating farmer to farmer relationships. We will create a digital classroom across multiple online platforms for farmers to gather and exchange techniques. Ultimately, making our seed systems more sustainable isn’t about developing a certain technique or variety, it’s about building a community of farmers.
While the course will be designed by the Utopian Seed Project, we will rely on close collaboration with many Southeastern seed institutions. The Organic Seed Alliance will assist in curriculum development and distribution. Common Wealth Seed Growers will provide expertise on breeding and propagation. We will work with regionally integrated seed growers for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Sow True Seed, and other Southeastern seed projects (42 tab 1). We will partner with several Southeastern farming organizations to distribute our content to an audience of well over 100,000 growers (42 tab 2).
The most important metric of success for the project will not be the raw number of growers reached digitally, but the number of farmers our curriculum motivates to become active members of the Southeast seed network. Every step of the project features opportunities for farmer feedback and collaboration. Our curriculum will be optimized for digital distribution to reach a large audience, but also optimized for engagement, so that the ultimate outcome of our educational work is farmers talking to one another. Our content will serve as a jumping off point for the deeper kind of peer to peer self motivated learning required to grow and maintain a truly sustainable seed network.
- Use social media tools to create a learning community of farmers that facilitates peer-to-peer interaction and the growth of local seed enterprises.
- Create effective seed saving video tutorials for major Southeastern crops, covering cultivation methods from planting to harvest and seed storage.
- Promote farmer adoption of seed selection methods to produce cultivars adapted to the Southeast.
- Contextualize seed-saving as an ecosystem service essential for a sustainable food system in our social networking and curriculum.
- Promote equity in Southeastern seed systems. Equity entails greater representation for marginalized Southeastern farmers, free and open distribution of genetic material, and easy access to agricultural knowledge.
In the first year of this grant, Communal Studios have traveled across the southeast interviewing and filming seed savers and farmers. The focus has been on six crops: Collards, Corn, Okra, Southern Peas, Squash, Sweet Potatoes. Final filming and editing are currently in progress. The interview subjects cover a range of interviewees:
|Ira Wallace||Southern Exposure Seed Exchange|
|Edmund Frost||Common Wealth Seed Growers|
|Angie Lavezzo||Sow True Seed|
|Clif Slade||Slade Farms|
|Mehmet Öztan||Two Seeds in a Pod|
|Silas Childs||friend of Mehmet|
|Owen Taylor||True Love Seeds|
|Amirah Mitchell||True Love Seeds|
|Stephen Smith||Roughwood Seed Collection|
|Nate Kleinman||Experimental Farm Network|
|Jon Jackson||Comfort Farms|
|Amy Rose Foll||Virginia Free Farm|
|Jovan Sage||Sage's Larder|
|Thi Mai Phuong Phan|
|Haylene Green||West End Community Urban Garden|
|Jamila Norman||Patchwork City Farms|
|Bobby Wilson||Metro Atlanta Urban Farm|
|Melissa DeSa||Working Food|
|Joe Durando||Melissa's friend|
|Terry Zinn||Florida Wildflower|
Rebekka White and Hank Bass
|Britiah Walker||Serenity Community|
|Four people||SPROUT NOLA|
|Yams||NDN Bayou Food Forest|
|Dove Stackhouse||Sand Mountain Seed Bank|
|Megan Allen||Care of the Earth Farm|
We are developing a curriculum of southeast focused seed saving videos. We are currently editing 6 crop specific episodes which will be bookmarked by an introduction and a conclusion episode. Each crop specific episode will be accompanied by a technical how-to PDF on saving seed for that crop. The videos will be distributed widely through promotional partner networks, social media and conference showings.
Educational & Outreach Activities
The first half of this grant has been interviewing and filming farmers. We are currently editing the education material into a accessible curriculum and will begin outreach efforts towards the end of Summer 2022. We currently have first drafts of each of the six crop specific videos.
Note: we have been sharing 'work in progress' snippets and videos along the filming journey on social media to begin generating interest.
We have not yet achieved the project outcomes and are still creating our educational resources.