August 9, 2012

Seed Walk at the Community Gardens

Last month I wrote about seed lending libraries in the Bay Area and Sacramento, and wondered whether anyone in Davis had ever approached our own library about creating such a resource here. Well, they aren't at the library, but it turns out there is in fact a fledgling seed saving group in Davis, called the Davis Seed Savers Alliance. It was started only a few months ago and is headquartered at the Domes on campus.

The group doesn't have an Internet presence yet, (update: they now have an active Wiki page here) but is spreading the word via email, word of mouth, and traditional paper flyer (posted at the Davis Community Gardens and UCD Experimental Gardens). Last Thursday, the alliance hosted a "Seed Walk" at the Community Gardens, which I found out about when a gardening friend forwarded me an email announcement of the event (thanks, Susie!)

Red poppy seed pod

The day was ridiculously hot, but the seed walk started at 7pm just as the sun was going down, so it was actually pleasant out there. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, so the only pictures you get are post-walk shots of the seeds I collected. (I'll have to profile the Davis Community Gardens themselves soon; driving by the gardens on 5th street they don't look like much of anything if you're not paying close attention, so I had no idea how beautiful the place actually is.)

Larkspur seed

The seed walk started with introductions and a lesson in making a seed saving envelope using plain paper and a particular folding technique. Then we walked out into the garden. The organizers had gotten permission from a number of plot owners to harvest seed from veggies and flowers that had gone to seed, and there was a surprising variety to choose from.

Seeds collected, drying out and sealed in packets

There were lots of veggie seeds available, but since I have most of what I need in that department I focused on flowers. As we wandered the plots, I collected seed from red poppy, Bachelor's button, larkspur, Sweet William (dianthus), and several colors of hollyhock. I also collected some dino kale seeds, and happily accepted a packet of mustard that one of the other participants had collected from her own garden and wanted to share. I brought a stash of the small coin envelopes I use to save seed in my own garden and used those to collect the goods.

Bachelor's button (cornflower) seed

The seeds I came home with were a wonderful gift from the Davis Community Gardens plot owners, but the best parts about the evening were meeting other area gardeners, getting a chance to tour the lovely and diverse Community Gardens, and finding out there's a group of people committed to seed saving and sharing in Davis. The Davis Seed Savers Alliance is starting off with a bang with the goal of hosting weekly workshops on seed collection. There's another one planned for this Sunday, this time on how to save tomato seeds.

Here are the details:

WHAT:  Tomato Seed Saving Workshop

WHEN:  Sunday, August 12, 10:30 a.m.

WHERE:  Experimental College Gardens (on UCD Campus) next to the toolshed in the middle of the garden

WHY:  To teach people how to save tomato seeds using the fermenting method. There will also be an opportunity to see the Davis Seed Savers Alliance seed library and learn how to check out seeds. Appropriate for both beginning and advanced gardeners.

COST: Free

Questions should be directed to the Davis Seed Savers Alliance through their email at

Happy seed collecting!

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