Southern Seed School: June 3rd!

May 11, 2017 by

Saturday June 3, 9am-3pm

At the UF Field and Fork Teaching Farm, IFAS Research Drive

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Empowering small scale growers to improve regional agricultural biodiversity!

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could develop your own garden vegetable varieties? Or improve existing ones to better suit your preferences? Maybe even save enough of your own seed, so you don’t need to buy them each year? Well you can! Join us for a mini crash course all about seeds for southern gardeners and farmers. Learn about selecting the right varieties, conducting your own trials and experiments, and saving and improving varieties. You can do it! Local experts are here to help!

A small registration fee to cover our costs, includes a tasty local lunch and beverages!

REGISTER HERE!

Workshop Schedule (subject to slight change):
 
8:30-9AM check in and grab a coffee, water
 
9AM-9:20AM welcome and introduction 
 
9:20-9:45 Chris Wilson
CROP GENETICS 101 AND BIODIVERSITY
 
Agrobiodiversity is important for sustainable regional food systems, and amateur plant breeders (like you!) have an important role to play in shaping and improving the diversity of our regional crops. To understand how biodiversity works in crop plants, we’ll cover some basic population genetics like in-breeders vs out-breeders, homozygosity vs heterozygosity, and a few basic breeding methods. We’ll also explore how growing conditions like low-input and organic production play a role in shaping our plants.
 
9:45- 11:00 Chris Wilson (cont’d)
HOW TO SET UP VARIETY TRIALS
 
Gardeners and farmers love to try new things. We look for new varieties that will perform well in our climate, and have resistance to pests and diseases which are always evolving. The best way to assess whether something is doing well beyond anecdotal observations, is to set up a variety trial at your farm or garden. A properly set up trial doesn’t have to be laborious or tedious, and can be scaled to your needs and interests. Set up properly, they allow you to compare traits of a certain crop (i.e. vigor, production, disease resistance, pest resistance etc.) in a more scientific way that will produce useful information. 
 
11:00-11:10 BREAK
 
11:10 – 12:00 Melissa DeSa
SEED SAVING PT. I: FROM SEED TO SEED, GROWING THE BEST PLANTS FOR SEED PRODUCTION
As a matter of course, farmers and gardeners always used to save their own seeds. With so few of us doing this anymore, we’ve given up control of our food supply, letting decisions about what we’ll grow up to fewer and larger seed companies. This does not bode well for sustaining varieties with regional significance, or for overall biodiversity. When we save our own, we not only ensure our own future food supply, but start to shape the qualities of the crops that we desire. We can select for taste, vigor, shelf life, disease resistance and more! 
 
We’ll learn the basic concepts of plant reproduction as they pertain to seed production like inbreeding vs. outbreeding, population size, isolation techniques and cross-pollination concerns. We’ll discuss the significance of heirloom, hybrid and open-pollinated plants. 
 
12:00-12:30 LUNCH BREAK
 
12:30-1:20 Melissa DeSa
SEED SAVING PT II: HARVESTING, PROCESSING AND STORING SEEDS
Learn about dry vs. wet-seeded crops, how and when to harvest, extract, ferment, and winnow your seeds according to their specific needs. With a few hands-on examples, we’ll clean some seeds together. Finally, we’ll discuss the best methods for seed storage.
 
1:20-1:30 BREAK
 
1:30-3:00 Timothy Noyes 
BREED YOUR OWN VARIETIES!

Want tastier tomatoes? Milder mustards? Bigger pumpkins? Slower-bolting greens? Try breeding your own! The development of new varieties and landraces suitable for our area is imperative to keep up with the changing environment, disease and pest pressures our crops face, as well as the personal preference of the grower for qualities like flavor and vigor. Many of the seeds we have access to, are grown outside of our regional conditions, and therefore subject to very different conditions.  As amateur plant breeders, we can narrow in and select the best varieties for North Central Florida and improve them to fit our specific needs. You’ll come away from this talk with the inspiration and tools needed to go about improving your crops, just the way you want them to be!

3:00 Optional trip to UF student farm near the bat house to observe the garden.

Meet our presenters!

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