Friday, November 28, 2014

Iroquois Corn and the beginnings of a Seed Story Library.

Iroquois corn kernels from the original Haudenosaunee variety.

SeedBroadcast is honored to be partnering with the Sustainable Studies program at Institute for American Indian Arts to activate an interactive Seed Story Library. This vision was spearheaded by Annie Haven McDonnell who is core faculty of the Essential Studies Department and the Chair of the Campus Climate Committee.  Annie invited SeedBroadcast to collaborate on a series of Seed Story workshops to introduce students to the importance of not only saving our traditional seeds but also saving the stories that are encapsulated within them. The process has begun and the students will be collecting seed stories from their communities and working with the campus library to create the IAIA Seed Story Library.
On one of our recent visits to the campus we met with James Thomas Stevens who is the Chair of the Creative Writing program. James is a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, his Mohawk name is Aronhiótas ,"Where the sky goes up." James graciously shared some of his heritage flint corn along with his story of the resilience of the Iroquois people and this ancient variety of corn  after the destruction of Iroquois villages and crops during the"Burnt Earth Campaign" of 1779.

Both James and Annie are creative beings in their lives, teaching, and they have received many well deserved accolades for their poetry. They are inspired by culture, a deep love of nature and concern for the land they seek to protect.  They observe, listen and truth tell.
 Annie's poem "Seeds"  can be found in the SeedBroadcast Spring agri-Culture Journal
SeedBroadcast is looking forward to our continued collaboration and partnership in 2015.
It is an auspicious beginning !

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SeedBroadcast agri-Culture Journal, Autumn 2014

The latest SeedBroadcast agri-Culture journal is hot off the press. It can be found in printed form at various locations around the nation and on the web at this link:

Thank you to all our contributors for making this a diverse and poignant edtion.

Next deadline for submissions is February 2nd, 2015.

Contact us at

Friday, August 1, 2014

Open call : SeedBroadcast agri-Culture Journal.

SeedBroadcast agri-Culture Journal is a bi-annual collection of poetry, inspired thoughts, essays, photographs, drawings, recipes, How-to’s and wisdom gathered together from a national call out to lovers of local food and seeds.  This journal supports collaboration and the sharing of seeds, stories, resources, and inspiration within local communities and between individuals, while also providing pollination through diversified regional, national, and international internet-media networks.

SeedBroadcast agri-Culture Journal 

It is also available in print at various locations and directly from the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station. If you contribute you will receive a stack of printed copies.

                       Contribute! Participate! Propose!

Send us your seed inspired poems, images, photographs, recipes, articles about your work, provocative essays, calls for seed action!
The deadline for the next edition is August 31st 2014.  
Please send your inquiries, proposals, and contributions to

Images should be 300 dpi and include a short bio.

We are looking forward to your contributions.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Seed Stories from the New Mexico Land Office

 Here are Seed Stories from several of the fourth graders who attended the special planting celebration for Earth Day at the New Mexico Land Office.

SeedBroadcasting at New Mexico Land Office

The New Mexico Land Office hosted a special planting celebration for Earth Day in April. This event brought together the State Land Commissioner, Ray Powell, Tesuque Pueblo, Agricultural Director, Emigdio Ballon, Jade Leyva and the Community Seed Mural, SeedBroadcast and the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station, and over 75 fourth graders from several Santa Fe Public Schools. This cross generational spectrum would spend the day sharing the knowledge of ancient seeds, cherishing the beauty of seeds, making sound waves with local seed stories, and in general and with specific intention planting these seeds of wisdom for the future.

During the event, Camilla Romero, who works at the Land Office in Accounting, was spending her day outside in the circular landscape beds along the building. She worked with all the fourth graders to create a healing garden of culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, and local vegetables, while discussing the uses of these plants and their history. This demonstration garden is meant to inspire curiosity about plants and our relationship to them through acknowledging the botanical culture which heals, nourishes, and brings such diverse beauty to the world.

Here is Camilla’s Seed Story:

Seed: A Collective Voice, Community Seed Mural completed in 2013 was on view in the Land Office Gallery for all to view, while at the front of the building the newest seed mural was underway with students helping to secure seeds to the color coded boards.

Right along Old Santa Fe Trail, the main street in front of the Land Office, a small rectangular urban garden was underway with the three sisters, which is an indigenous polyculture of corn, beans, and squash. Leading this project was Emigdio Ballon who is a plant geneticist and teacher. He spoke with the students about the importance of these ancient food crops and their cyclical relationship with people from seed to seed. The students then worked with Emigdio to plant the small rows of blue corn and squash.

SeedBroadcast had a particularly special time with the groups of students during this whirlwind Seed Story shindig. These kids were filled with great ideas and a knack to tell stories. Many contributed fantastic drawings of seeds, favorite plants, gardens, and botanical ecology to the SeedBroadcast bulletin board, while others put down a few notes on the marker board inside the van.

Seeds were the highlight of the day.

There is something special in the air when you ask a kid if they would like to take seeds home to plant and they mob you with gleaming eyes of excitement, ready to head home with a handful of seeds and get to work in the dirt. Beans, corn, melons, peas, sorghum, cilantro….and others ended up in the pockets of fourth graders to be planted somewhere in a Santa Fe backyard and be shared in bounty through a child’s love of possibility. Many of the students chose varieties or types that they liked to eat, but several had a discerning eye towards something more…there was something about the seed that spoke to them and said take me home.

A very special thanks and shout out to Max Otwell who came by to help out in the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station. Without you it would have been extreme seedy madness. Thank you!

Monday, June 30, 2014

SeedBroadcasting at Pollinator Day, Albuquerque BioPark

Young seed researcher.
Pollination is the process by which pollen is transfered from the anther (male part) to the stigma
(female part) of the plant, there by enabling fertilization and reproduction. This takes place in the angiosperms, the flower bearing plants. (Definition taken from Wikipedia  Only about 10% of flowering plants are pollinated without the assistance of animals this is called Abiotic pollination and the most common form is by the wind.  The more common form of pollination is Biotic which requires pollinators. There are about 200,000 species of pollinators most of which are insects.

One of the discovery stations at the BioPark
 On the summer solstice the Albuquerque BioPark held its Pollinator Day providing many discovery stations and experiential exhibits to inform visitors of the importance of these pollinators to keep our eco-systems healthy and resilient.

Paika with her seed drawing            The BioPark Pollinator Garden

SeedBroadcast was invited to participate by Tallie Segal the education co-ordinator who shared her time and stories with us.

Tallie explained to us that the BioPark is actively saving the seeds of the Sacramento prickly poppy which is an endangered species and the New Mexico beardtongue, an important host for rare Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies. The park has a designated seed bank area for this conservation and works in co operation with the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service, the state of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico to re-seed native habitats.
Exploring how seeds move!

Tallie also provided SeedBroadcast with three enthusiastic interns, who helped to facilitate the running the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station by helping visitors to access the archive of seed stories on the IPads, to looking up and printing seed saving information, helping kids to explore the diversity of seeds and adding to the SeedBroadcast drawing wall, thank you Dominique, Brandon and Renne. Brandon and Renne also shared their own seed stories:

As flowers attract the pollinators, SeedBroadcast attracts the people who are willing the share their seeds of wisdom, then we share this wisdom to keep the cycle alive and resilient. The following is one of these wonderful wisdom stories and if you have not visited the Albuquerque BioPark you should.

Friday, June 20, 2014

SeedBroadcasting at Westcliffe Seed Library

The last stop on the Rocky Mountain Tour was to the Westcliffe Seed Library at the West Custer County Library in Westcliffe, Colorado.

“A Collaborative Effort of People, Non-Profits and The Public Library”

The Westcliffe Seed Library began in 2010 with the joint effort of the library director, local grower Penn Parmenter, and Colorado State University Extension Office. It brought together donated seed from BBB Seed, Tomato Bob’s, Seed Trust, and High Mountain Seeds.

All this seed provides the largest inventory available, but tucked away inside the custom made library cabinet are several packets of locally grown and saved flower, herbs, and vegetable seeds.

Like many seed library systems they use “Easy” “Medium” and “Difficult” to denote the challenge of saving seed from particular varieties and use a check out system to keeping track of the seeds and patrons.

The curation of this living archive is truly a collaborative effort between many interested gardeners, seed savers, librarians, and educators. Being local, growing local, and honoring the local is key. And this does not only apply to the seeds. It is also evident in its location among the stacks of local history, local telephone books, and local references. Local matters here.

Situated next to the Seed Library was a shelf with a potted Hoya plant and a framed picture, which seemed uncanny given the connection of sharing plants, seeds, and stories.

"This plant had grown from slips shared between historic neighbors in Silver Cliff and Westcliffe. Here is the story of this Hoya and its originator Lew Key: “This plant was grown from a slip taken from a plant that stood in the Silver Cliff laundry of Lew Kee. The Hoya plant slip was sent from California by Carolyn Anderson. Her mother (Nell) Cornelia Wadeigh attended the Westcliffe School during the time her father was the Westcliffe train station manager. Mr Key gave Nell’s mother a slip from his original plant and she in turn gave slips to her children and they to their children. These plants have traveled across the United States in places that Lew Key never dreamed of traveling.”

Current library director, Amy Moulton sat down with SeedBroadcast and shared her thoughts on the Westciffe Seed Library and their goals to make it grow. Here is Amy’s seed story:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

SeedBroadcasting with Penn and Cord Parmenter

In 2012, right before the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station national tour from New Mexico to Vermont, I spoke with Cord Parmenter on the phone and he talked about the many exciting high-altitude crop adaptations and greenhouse experiments he and his wife Penn were conducting. But, the plan to kick of the tour with them in Westcliffe, Colorado had to be changed at the last minute due to retrofits to the Broadcasting Station and time constraints.

But finally, two years later, on the last leg of the Rocky Mountain Tour, SeedBroadcast meandered (slowly) up over the Continental Divide and eastwards towards Westcliffe, Colorado, to meet up with these two joyous and dedicated small scale, four season, extreme gardeners, seed savers, and greenhouse innovators.

Penn and Cord’s garden began in 1991 with a camper, woodstove, and mixed wooded-meadow land in the Wet Mountains at 8120’ above sea level. With determination to prove wrong the accusations of assured failure, Penn states, “We grow food here because we were told we could not.”

And this, they have surely done.

Over the last 23 years they have experimented with designing and building thermal-mass greenhouses, implementing biomimicry as an efficient and provocative garden teacher, passing on this knowledge to others through workshops and lectures, and developing high-altitude corn, pumpkin, and Penn’s real passion, tomatoes. This has also encouraged a life-long relationship with their plants as seed keepers.

Cord recollects his first inspiration for his greenhouse design from a book called “Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse,” which someone had long ago borrowed and never returned. He remembered as much as he could and began building experimental prototypes in the garden and tweaking these to accommodate new design innovations.

The basic premise is to create a greenhouse that requires no additional heating or cooling from resource intensive outside energy inputs, such as electricity or gas. The key to this passive system is the sun, a southern facing structure with angled glazing, and the back wall lined with 50 gallon barrels of water to regulate high desert temperature fluctuations. These basic elements can pull tomatoes through a -31 degree F winter night!

This simple structure is not only hyper-efficient, it can also maximize growing potential with both permanent perennial beds and hanging gardens accommodating hundred of start flats and pots.

They have also designed many other passive structures that function as permanent bed high tunnels, half tunnels, boxes, and understory beds and hanging baskets, which are protected by the natural canopy of evergreens.

In their permanent growing areas, Penn and Cord use John Jeavon’s Bio-Intensive method of growing which allows for closer plantings, creates resilient soils, and retains moisture, reducing the need to water in this arid mountain climate.

Penn’s seed saving adventure began with her desire to grow tomatoes where everyone else gives up, in the high mountains. She attended Seed School in 2010, came home and harvested over 10 lbs of seeds, and never looked back. She now grows over 130 varieties and offers her adapted seed for sale through her seed company called High Mountain Seeds, through Seeds Trust, at the local Westcliffe Seed Library, and she is now a part of the newly formed Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance.

She said, “I didn’t know I was a seed saver until it happened to me.” And this begins her life long acquaintance with not only seed, but also other seed keepers around the world.

Here is a one of many seed stories that Penn shared. This one about Pop’s Tomato, an heirloom tomato entrusted to her and the journey it took to reconnect with its lost heritage.

You can also hear more on this story at A Sense of Place, Episode 2: Pop's Tomato, by Sarah Stockdale at

Penn not only grows out all these tomatoes and seeds she also is developing an online archive with images and descriptions. She relishes this time sitting down with each tomato in hand and tasting its delicate nature, while poetically naming its characteristics.

And with all her success growing and adapting Candy Mountain Sweet Corn, Kinko 6” Chantenay Carrots, Northern Bush Pumpkin, and a motley crew of tomatoes, all this effort does not always end in success. Sometimes failures are also important, teaching us to stretch our thinking and our practices to learn and grow with seed.

In 2013, Penn agreed to grow out the instantaneously famous Carl’s Glass Gem Corn for Seeds Trust. With an unusually cool and rainy summer all the crops where thriving in green. As Penn said, “It was bizarre, but the corn seemed unconcerned about its destiny to reproduce and make seed. It just seemed happy growing and swaying in the breeze.” By late August and with the relatively short growing season at 8120’ Penn began to worry when no tasseling occurred. It just kept growing and growing, until a hail storm became its destiny, stimulating this corn's need to get moving, tassel, pollinate, and make seed…..or was it Penn’s Corn Dance?

In the end, it was too late. Even with the effort to build an instantaneous greenhouse around it, all the corn grew, tasseled, and began pollinating, but not before rains and the heavy cold of fall settled.

Penn relates this as extremely devastating, but not the end of her effort. In fact, in 2014 she is planting another trial of Carl’s Glass Gem and she is determined to keep trying what might seem impossible.

“If a ponderosa can grow out of rock, you can grow seed in soil” – Penn Parmenter

To keep up with Penn and Cord visit their garden blog at:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tomten Farm with Kris Holstrom

SeedBroadcasting from Telluride was made possible by our partnership with Telluride Institute (TI) and Southwest Institute for ResiLience (SWIRL)…along with the generosity of Telluride MountainFilm, who included our seedy broadcasting in the weekend festivities.

Kris Holstrom of SWIRL is a local agroecologist, educator, and brilliant community organizer. She was instrumental in connecting us to local growers and opportunities at and around Telluride!

We met up with her at the MountainFilm Ice Cream Social and Telluride Farmers Market where she was facilitating compost as the on-site waste-flow engineer, as well as overseeing her farm stand at the market. She stopped by to visit briefly amidst the snow, ice cream, veggies, and waste cycles and shared a seed story with us. Then she invited us out to her farm on “the mesa” above Telluride.

Main Street, Telluride with waste barrels, SeedBroadcast, gluten-free ice cream, and the soon-to-come snow.

Kris calls this Tomten Farm and it is guarded by its namesake, a gnome-like creature of legend who watches over farmers’ homes and children. It is located just west of Telluride at 9000 feet low… making it well classified as a high-altitude experiment is regenerative agriculture, permaculture, education, and creative community life.

Here is Kris's Seed Story:

During our tour of the farm, we sloshed around in a shroud of patchy fog and distant snow-capped mountains. The recent snow covered all the new garden plantings, but cane fruit, hops, alliums, asparagus, and trees were beginning to leaf out and flower.

Tomten Farm is a demonstration and education site based on regenerative agriculture principles in action. The mission is to explore and put into play dynamic feedback loops where all ecologic participants (plants, soils, animals, humans, weather, sun, etc) relate through energy flows to create a resilient web of life for people and the other than human.

This farm is fully experimental and powered by seasonal interns who contact Kris through National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. Interns not only help out on the farm, they are also included in all educational programming and they can lead their own alternative architecture and permaculture experiments and projects. Housing for interns include several gers and a community kitchen.

Grow Dome
Even though the winters are snowy and cold, the farm grows four-season with a climate battery greenhouse, grow dome, and greenhouse on the south face of Kris’s passive solar, photovoltaic driven home. These structures provide a moderated climate, passive cooling and heating, and collecting/storing harvested rainwater, while retaining humidity to off-set the desert atmosphere of the Rocky Mountains.

The large climate battery greenhouse was designed in concept from Jerome Osentowski at the Colorado Rocky Mountain Permaculture Insititute. It has permanent beds laid out in large curvilinear forms making space for intercropped diversity of annual and perennial food, medicine, and beneficial botanicals. Verticality is also structured into this design as a multi-story garden with grapes and nasturtiums climbing up the beams, a fig tree and rosemary bush and under-cropped herbs and tender greens. Using 3-dimensional space to sculpt a garden, increases yields, biodiversity, and connects us to the elementals of land from below the soil surface to the clouds.

As we wrapped up our farm tour, Kris added, “You know, after my Seed Story audio recording with you earlier, I realized that one of the most important seeds on the farm are the interns. The interns are the seeds around here, and they all germinate differently.”

Thank you Kris for sharing your seed story and farm with us!