Tag Archives: Seed Swap

Of Seeds, Stories,Swapping, and Soup

Zaad Ruilen

On Your Marks, Get Set, Swap

(c) A. Doherty 2012

Well, what a week it’s been. I have been busy with a lot of networking, about which I hope to be able to bring you more later. Today, I am on my way to the Food Guerrilla event in Rotterdam, which I

The week started (or last week ended, depending on your viewpoint) with the Seedy Penpals, Cityplot and Mediamatic Zaadruilen (Seed exchange) on Sunday. The day started out bright and crisp, a great day for a seed swap. We headed over to the Mediamatic Fabriek with bags full of seeds, and the hope that there would be enough variety to share.

Unfortunately for us, the heavens opened just before 2.00, when the swap was due to start. Although I was inside, and couldn’t see out, I knew from the sound that it was raining cats, dogs, and probably a few farm animals as well. I am sure that this put many people off, as the mediamatic events are usually very well attended. Nevertheless, quite a few intrepid people did make it, and brought a lot of seed to boot. It was great to make connections wit more people who want to grow and share seed, and to find out about all the initiatives that there are in town, or that people want to get off the ground.

ASEED were also there. They brought seeds, and they also gave a workshop on seed saving, and the importance of maintaining plant varieties that are being lost as we see more and more of our plants (particularly food) being grown from fewer varieties that are bred to look good or last well on our supermarket shelves, or be resistant to pesticides etc.

This issue is becoming increasingly more important as we see more and more laws passed globally that try to restrict the distribution of seeds, and concentrate it in the hands of a few companies, instead of using traditional methods of saving a portion of the harvest to grow the following year. This weekend in Vienna,  a group of NGOs are getting together to discuss proposed legislation in the EU that would become even more restrictive on the sharing and saving of seeds, and the issue of owning “intellectual property” of seed varieties and genetic strains. I think that it is important to push back about this, for many reasons, and look forward to being able to do a small part in the push to amend this legislation, and make it possible to continue to grow, save and share my own seed.

People came with their own seeds, some that they had bought, but many that they had saved themselves. I took a lot of seeds, but my favourite was the runner beans that I have grown from seeds that my Dad gave me. I love to share that story, and many people were interested, and took some for themselves. I also learned a few of the stories that other people told along with their seeds too.

Making the Rangoli

Seeds of Something Beautiful

As we were doing the event along with Mediamatic, we also included an artistic element. We made a beautiful rangoli from pulses. A rangoli are colourful Indian artworks usually made from seeds, coloured flour, rice or sand traditionally made by Hindu women to use as decorations at festivals. I also learned that the form has been used to plot out a farm and the rotation system, so that you had a visual representation of what should be planted where, that is easy to follow, even if you may not read. I think that is a lovely idea.

Rangoli made with pulses

Edible Art

Since they were edibles, we thought that we would share them with the people who came to swap seeds, so we made a Souper Seed Mix. We gave packages with beans or lentils, that we used in the rangoli, plus a spice mix. Obviously, there was no way that I was going to waste all that good seed. I figured that people could then choose to plant them, or eat them.

I tested this recipie first, using home grown Harlequin potatoes, but you could use any firm-fleshed potato. It turned out that the potato was the only seed of all of the ingredients that I used that did not appear at the swap, but I expect that this was more due to the time of year.

So, here is my Rangoli Soup. A few people from the swap have already tried this, and the reports have been good so far. It seems it id good, with or without the art!

Rangoli Soup

Seeds to Form a Souper Mix

Recipe: Rangoli Soup

Ingredients:

100 g dried beans, split peas or lentils

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp mustard seed

½ tsp nigella seed

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp tomato puree

Pinch chilli powder

1 clove garlic, grated

3cm piece root ginger, grated

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 bay leaves

2 sticks celery, diced

350 g potatoes, diced

2 carrots, sliced

250 g pumpkin, diced

300 ml vegetable stock

1 tin crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper

Chopped parsley or coriander

Method:

Soak the beans in cold water overnight. If you have lentils or split peas, you skip the soaking stage. In fresh, cold water, bring the beans up to the boil and then simmer until tender. This may take between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on the type of bean. Once they are cooked, drain the water off, and set aside.

In a dry pan, toast the spice seed mix, until they brown, and the mustard seeds start to pop. Grind them to a powder.

Make a paste with the seed powder, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic, ginger and tomato purée.

Gently fry the onion,celery and bay leaves in the oil, until they are translucent.

Add the paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well so that the spices don’t burn.

Add the carrot, potato, pumpkin, the cooked beans,  stock and tomatoes, and cook until the vegetables are tender – about 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some chopped coriander or parsley sprinkled over the top.

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Seeds Just Got Real!

I am very happy to announce that Seedy Penpals is going to be live at the Mediamatic Ruilen (exchange) exhibition.

This Sunday, 4th November, I shall be there in partnership with the wonderful Cityplot crew, with a load of edible and beautiful seeds that you can grow to eat, admire, save and share.

Doors open at 2.00 pm, and you can come and swap seeds of any kind, share growing tips, and tell us your growing stories, seed folklore or something lovely about your plot, whether it is a balcony, moestuin, or a field!

Why Swap Seed?

  • We all buy fewer packets of seeds, but can grow more varieties of plants
  • Less seed is wasted if you cannot plant it all in time
  • Sharing seeds allows us to preserve more varieties, especially heritage types. Recent developments in the Dutch and international seed business have led to a concentrated market and, with it, a diminished variety of available seeds.
  • We can help create wildlife habitats at home, allowing us to benefit from the beauty of flora and fauna sharing our spaces, and allowing these plants and animals to continue to thrive.
  • Fresh food and flowers will last longer for you.

What to Exchange?

  • Seeds will be exchanged on a “bring some, take some” basis. You will need to label your seeds with the common name (e.g. runner beans, or aster) and the variety if you know it (e.g. “Scarlet Emperor” or “Ostrich Plume”). It is also important to mark whether the seeds are Open Pollinated or F1 hybrids, so that others will know if they can save the seeds and get a true plant next time. If you are unsure, then we will be there to help, just bring along the original seed packet if you can
  • You can exchange flowers or edibles, and even tubers, bulbs and plug plants if you have any (although we know it is a bit late in the year for many plugs)
  • You are also encouraged to share growing tips about the seeds – do they like shade, or full sun; do they like a lot of water, or will the Amsterdam sky provide you with all they need; when to plant them?
  • We also have the facility to share stories about your growing space, folklore about your seeds, photos of your plants (if you can bring them digitally, or e-mail them to me), so you can bring them along, or write them down on the day if you like. We will also accept stories and photos in exchange for seed, if you don’t have any spare seed.
  • We will be creating a beautiful Rangoli with a few of each ruilers’ seeds throughout the day.
  • There will also be a Souper Seed Mix available for you to take away. You get to choose if you would prefer to grow these, or cook with them

More Information

The seed swap will take place on November 4, from 14.00 to 17.00 in Mediamatic Fabriek, VOC-kade 10. You can trade free entrance for a chore like an hour of barkeeping or half an hour of vacuum cleaning. Otherwise it’s € 5,- for a membership including free entrance for a month. Children half price.

The Mediamatic Fabriek is behind the Parool building in Amsterdam Oostelijke Eilanden.

The seed swap is part of Ruilen, an exhibition, events and online marketplace from October 20 till January 6. Open from Wednesday through Sunday, from 13.00 to 18.00.

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Seedy Cuttings and Other Updates

Seedy Penpals Blog Badge

The last Friday in the month is here and now is the opportunity to update you all on progress in the Seedy Packet Patch, but I have also been doing a lot of other stuff with seeds this month that I thought that I would share.

This month has been busy for me. I’ve planted some of the amaranths and some radishes that I got as part of my first Seedy Packet. Unfortunately, I only managed to get these in this week, and there has been very little sign of sprouting so far. I will spare you a picture of bare earth, but there will be green and lovely photos next time, I promise.

We’d love to hear about any updates that you have too, so please share any posts in the linky below, in the comments, or contact me or Carl for a guest post, like Gillian did to share her Seedy Packet

News of Seedy Penpals has been spreading. I think I have probably mentioned this a lot, but I am really enjoying seeing the wider effects swapping seeds online can have. I have seen new friendships form, and other links being made. Loads of people have said very kind things about the scheme. Thanks for being wonderful penpals, for the duration of the first swap, and beyond. I hope that the community will continue to grow and support each other.

Thanks to Michelle at Veg plotting, I reached out to a gardener, who also runs a postal seed exchange; Patrick at Bifurcated Carrots. He was very generous with some tips on the practicalities of seed exchange in an international setting, and he wrote up a lovely post about Seedy Penpals. On top of that, he is practically a neighbour, so I hope to meet him very soon, and discuss all things seedy (not a euphemism, honestly)!

Last week, I found out about Cityplot. I got in touch with them (there seems to be a general theme of Seedy Penpal stuff making me braver. I’ve been reaching out in more directions than a party of octopuses on a fairground ride), and funnily enough, Ann got back to me straight away to say that she had heard of me and Seedy Penpals through Bifurcated Carrots, and she’d intended to get in touch. I love the serendipity of things like this.

I booked myself on the Cityplot Seed Saving course, run in conjunction with Urban Herbology, and from the conversation  I had with Ann, things seem to have snowballed (in the very best way).  Last Friday, I found myself meeting up with Jennie and a bunch of other enthusiastic people, and heading off to a little patch of wilderness on a burdock seed forage in preparation for the workshop on Sunday.

Burdock Plant in Autumn

Urban Warrior

Harvesting seed from a very irritating plant, covered in bandanas and swimming goggles is a very quick way to unify a group of strangers, let me tell you.

Burdock burrs, ready for picking

Prickly Customers

We all donned gloves to harvest the driest of the burrs from the plants in the patch, before having to wear more protection whilst we shook , stamped on and rubbed the burrs to encourage them to release their seedy treasures. Our unconventional attire seemed to get a lot of interest from passing dog walkers and cyclists. Some of them came and asked us why we were all covering our faces; they went off happy that we were doing no harm, and were just protecting ourselves from the prickles that cover the burrs. We did have to explain ourselves to some parks police, and the actual  police did a slow drive by a couple of times. Nothing that a friendly explanation couldn’t quickly clear up, but left us amused.

Collected Burdock Seed

The Seeds of Our Labour

It was all worth it, and we had collected and winnowed enough seeds for the workshop, plus we all got extra to take home with us. It is edible, but quite bitter. I am experimenting with bread, and I am also sprouting some, so I hope that will appear on a salad post sometime soon.

On Sunday I headed to the seed saving workshop, where there were a lot of new faces, most of whom were fairly recent gardeners, but with some more experienced people. We learned about seed harvesting for both domestic and wild seeds, discussed open pollinating, and the importance of  seed saving and sharing. It was a good mix of theory and practical work, as we headed out to the kitchen garden of the restaurant, which is maintained by Cityplot, to look at different seed type and how to save them. There were plenty of envelopes and seeds to take for all. It was really fun, and was accessible to all abilities.

I guess you are wondering what we did with all that burdock seed? Well, we made a tincture and have instructions of how to mix it, and filter it to make it usable  Everyone who attended the workshop went away clutching their tinctures, which are powerful skin and liver cleansers and a warming tonic for people who feel the cold. This was entirely new to me. I love to forage for food. I am greedy. The herbal and health side of things is not really my speciality at all. It was great to meet with new people and acquire new knowledge.

Cityplot hold a number of other workshops including vermiculture, and growing exotics. Urban Herbology run a number of similar workshops and foraging walks. If you are in Amsterdam, I really recommend them, you’ll have a lot of fun, and learn useful skills.

Also through meeting Ann, I learned that a local arts group, Mediamatic, are having a “Sharing Exhibition” and were looking for examples of sharing. I went along to tell them about Seedy Penpals. One thing led to another here, and Cityplot, and I are looking at ways we can do a seed swap as part of this art project. So, Seedy Penpals could be going from virtual to physical for a couple of months in Amsterdam.

Don’t forget that you can join Seedy Penpals anytime, and that the next swap will be taking place in February. See here for more information, and to sign up. I’d also love to read about any progress your seeds have made, so let me know more.

Disclosure: I was not paid to promote either City Plot or Urban Herbology, and neither was I asked to write about them. I paid for the course, and mention them here because it was something that I enjoyed, and is relevant to seed sharing. I think that others may enjoy their courses and get a lot from them too.

However, I have met like-minded people, and we are looking at ways to collaborate in the future on foraging and cooking, as well as the art project.  I hope that they will become friends too.



 

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