Food Security and Seed Saving

5-Day Workshop with Kay Baxter (from NZ’s Koanga Institute) at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm, NSW, Australia

In our changing and unstable world, the question of food security is becoming increasingly relevant. Our ability to grow healthy food locally and sustainably is dependent in many ways on the quality of our seeds. It has been a focus of the Koanga Institute for many years to support home gardeners with the skills needed for self reliance, and understanding the process of saving high quality seed that is well adapted to local climates is fundamental to this. Almost all seed available commercially today is grown by large companies either in Europe or the USA. This leaves the home gardener extremely vulnerable to global instability if they are not saving their own seeds. Genetic diversity in our food crops has been lost on a drastic scale due to the industrialisation of our food production. The incredible diversity we once had, with thousands of genetically unique varieties, has been reduced to a tiny number of varieties that have been selected for their suitability to commercial applications (not the requirements of a home gardener).

The Koanga Institute holds a significant and valuable collection of NZ heritage seed (vegetables, herbs and flowers), and has international recognition for their unique work in the field of seed saving and seed production. The founder of the Institute — Kay Baxter — has been dedicated to saving these seeds and making them available in NZ. Over the past 30 years, Kay’s work for the Institute has ensured the survival of more than 800 NZ heritage seed lines, many of which are now available to members and home gardeners. A major focus of our research in the past few years has been finding ways for home gardeners to increase the nutritional density of their produce, adapting biological agricultural methods to suit home gardeners.

Very few soils have the complete balance of minerals required to grow produce to support optimum human health. This is not such an issue while we have food available to us from many parts of the world, but as we look towards self reliance (be it on a family scale or a local community scale) human health will suffer if these deficiencies aren’t addressed. Once the minerals have been balanced, then it becomes possible to manage the recycling and regeneration of these nutrients.

As community based organisations develop skills and networks that foster local sustainability and community self reliance, the question of seed saving becomes increasingly important. While seed saving is not difficult, there are many things to take into account if you are serious about ensuring food security, and the survival of specific varieties.

This 5-day workshop will give you the skills and understanding to grow and save your own seeds, and to ensure that the seeds you save will be high quality, for longevity and with the potential for optimal nutrition. Whether you are planning to set up a seed bank for a larger community, or would like to address food security for your immediate family, here you will find the skills and resources required. Processes taught are very low tech, and could be adapted to suit any situation, including rural villages without electricity or technology.


Course Outline

Genetic Strength and Biodiversity

  • what seeds to choose
  • plant guilds
  • open pollination, hybrids and GE
  • heritage seeds
  • local adaptation
  • planning for climate change

Nutrient Dense Food, Strong Seeds

  • getting the minerals back into the right relationships
  • supporting microbiology
  • managing nutrient cycles
  • growing soils – addressing the carbon cycle
  • testing and analysis
  • techniques for long term self sufficiency in the garden

Seed Production

  • saving true seed, keeping varieties pure
  • timing and planning
  • perennials and vegetative reproduction
  • strengthening genetics
  • determining selection

Seed Processing

  • harvesting
  • cleaning and drying seed
  • appropriate storage techniques
  • records, and labeling

Storage and Future Use

  • adaptation and environment
  • accession numbers
  • insurance seeds
  • community seed banks
  • seed exchange and networking.

Find out more and book here!

One Comment

  1. If there is a publication associated with this workshop, or one that might come out of it, I would love to receive a copy. Please let me know the cost.

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