Developing a Public Domain Seed Bank for the Ozark Bioregion
Project was begun in late spring of 2007.
Seed research plots were created and maintained at Elixir Farm and Oran Mor Farm. An additional area was fenced in the Alford Forest for additional seed plots surrounded by forest, to be cultivated in 2008. This additional fenced area was “spaded” and some rocks were removed, followed by seeding of a “cover crop” of rye and oats. This crop was “spaded” in October of 2007 and an additional cover crop of rye was planted at that time.
Seed plots at Elixir included 3 melon varieties, 2 cucumber varieties (one early spring, one late summer), 8 tomato varieties, 3 brassicas, a radish variety, a sweet corn, a pole bean and sorghum.
Where crops thrived, seeds were harvested and cleaned.
Seed plots at Oran Mor included spinach, leeks, kiwi, herbs (agastache and baptisia), sea kale, skirret, and wild hyacinth. Later plantings included: Malva crispa [cluster mallow], bergamot, and Japanese parsley, Hopi blue corn and Hopi white corn. Seed was harvested from successful crops.
The funds used in 2007 were allotted for part of the cost of fencing and irrigation and seed cleaning screens. Materials were purchased to allow fencing of the forest garden, and Elixir’s main garden.
Eleven varieties of seed were collected for the Ozark Seed Bank project. Eight of these showed excellent suitability to the Ozark Region, producing mature fruits and seeds with minimal need for irrigation or other inputs.
Information was collected on about 25 seed varieties. At least 6 of the varieties that were planted demonstrated poor suitability to the Ozark Region.
WORK PLAN for 2008
In 2008 we will be working with several new collaborators (we expect to have 10 new growers, as we intended in our project proposal). We intend to research another 25 varieties in 2009, and we expect excellent results from our new participants, some of whom have long histories of professional seed saving experience. We are especially glad that Bear Creek Farm in Osceola, Missouri will help with 4 tomato varieties in 2008.
Local newspaper coverage of the seed bank has attracted more interest in what we are doing (published at the beginning of March). More participants and volunteers from the Ava Garden Club and Ozark Permaculture Committee are demonstrating that there is local support and interest in building a local seed bank.
The project leader presented at the Ozark Area Communities Conference on October 6. Presentation attendance: 38 participants.
An Ozark Times article about the seed bank reached at least 6000 readers.
2008 Presentation plans:
* National SARE conference, Kansas City, MO in March 2008
* Baker Creek Seed, Spring Festival, Mansfield, MO in April 2008
* Sustainability Fair, West Plains, MO on May 11, 2008
Additional farm tours (3) and seed cleaning days (2).