Local seed keepers gathering for February swaps

By Cody Hooks
Posted 2/7/19

Two seed events are coming up: the San Luis Valley Seed Exchange and Mountain West Seed Summit.

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Local seed keepers gathering for February swaps


When some people plan their gardens for the year, they pore over stacks of seed catalogs, ordering a variety from every corner of the world. But some simply walk into their closets and cupboards, peeking inside old jars and bags where locally adapted seeds wait to be planted again and see the light of day. Before the heady rush of the growing season hits, farmers, gardeners and other seed keepers are gathering in the region for two seed-oriented events this month.

The first is the San Luis Valley Seed Exchange, happening Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 9-10) in Moffat, Colorado, at the Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa.

This is the ninth annual seed exchange in the SLV and will include a traditional seed swap. But it also has a special focus: hemp.

Colorado farmers have been developing a hemp industry for the past several years, even before the most recent federal farm bill legalized hemp and hemp production across the country. The seed swap will have speakers, a roundtable and demonstrations related to hemp production in Colorado.

Caren Kershner, director of the Colorado Industrial Hemp Coalition, had this to say about the importance of saving and sharing locally adapted hemp seeds in the region: "Hemp is grown across the planet under many different conditions and for a multitude of reasons. Selecting a cultivar that has proven merit in a similar environment can save a farmer time, money and heartache."

The southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico is a unique, high desert area that contains a wide assortment of microenvironments. The range of temperatures, availability of water and composition of the soil are all factors that influence the growth of any crop. In order to optimize the variety of microclimates available, a variety of seed is desirable," said Kershner.

The SLV Seed Exchange will also feature Micah Roseberry and Miguel Santistevan, two Taos farmers with a special attention to seed saving.

"(The) exchange will include hemp products, seed, clones and flower. Please note, this is hemp only and will not include marijuana," read the website.

Visit slvseedexchange.com for more information on the seed exchange.

The second seed event this month is the second Mountain West Seed Summit. The two-day conference is happen Feb. 22-23 at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.

"Growing and sharing local seeds is more critical now than ever because of climate change," said Nan Fischer, owner of Sweetly Seeds in Taos and an organizer of previous seed swaps. "Local seed is acclimated to local conditions, but those conditions are now unpredictable. I think seed savers need to collect seed from the hardiest plants that made it through the worst and widest variety of weather events."

The seed summit will have speakers, demonstrations, networking, a poetry slam and, of course, a seed swap, featuring farmers and seed savers from around the Mountain West.

"The theme 'Reunion of the Radicles' focuses on the radical aspects of the seed movement that challenge the dominant agricultural paradigm to create more just, abundant and ecologically healing seed and food systems," according to the website. The summit puts a special focus on indigenous perspectives and networking.

Registration ends Feb. 20. Visit rockymountainseeds.org for more information.


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