Environmental educator embarks on seed saving documentary campaign
A Golden Bay environmental educator is fundraising to produce her second documentary about the art and skill of seed saving.
Permaculture expert Robina McCurdy said in a world of increasingly rapid global ownership and scientific tampering of seeds it was pertinent to start growing "local food resilience" now.
Founder of the Localising Food Project, McCurdy hoped to raise $8500 by April 26, through the crowd-funding platform Pledge Me, to complete a new educational documentary, S.O.S: Save Our Seeds.
On Monday morning $1675 had been pledged.
*Educator puts food in focus
*Conference to focus on local food initiative
The project has already captured video footage from around New Zealand of models of seed swaps, seed exchanges, seed libraries, seed banks, and family seed businesses.
McCurdy said the documentary would also show step-by-step, how to select, process, store, distribute and propagate seeds, - an important skill to ensure the survival of seed lines.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, more than 90 per cent of the world's vegetable varieties have become extinct over the last 100 years.
She said with 95 per cent of the seeds available for purchase in this country imported from overseas, she believed the diversity and availability of New Zealand's daily food was endangered as corporations continuously discontinued seed lines.
"Over time, the food choices we have and the nutritional density of our food will just get narrower and narrower," McCurdy said.
The Localising Food Project consisted of a small voluntary team of educators and documentary makers who shared the common goal to empower community food cultures in New Zealand.
In 2013 the team toured New Zealand and captured 200 short films about local food resilience.
McCurdy released the first documentary in the series, Growing Schools, in 2014 which has received international attention. It explores the benefits of nature immersion in schools and kindergartens around New Zealand.
Many schools and kindergartens from the top of the South Island including Victory, Auckland Point and Motupipi primary schools and Hira, Stoke, Greenwood and Golden Bay kindergartens all featured in the documentary.
McCurdy said she was "astounded" to discover the local food initiatives ticking quietly away in small pockets by many New Zealanders.
"We have the solutions in our hands, but we just don't know they're there and we don't know from one area to another what other areas are doing. This is what the Localising Food Project initiative is about," she said. "Bringing it all together for everyone."
McCurdy says the art of seed saving is more simple than most people think. She shares her top 4 seed-saving tips:
1. Become a variety specialist. McCurdy's first tip is to become a specialist in one type of your favourite vegetable variety. By choosing your favourite "self-pollinating" seed line like potato, lettuce, tomato and beans for example, you can become an expert in that variety. From there, McCurdy says you can begin experimenting with others.
2. Stake and tag. Grow your garden as usual, but early on when you see the plants developing, McCurdy says to "stake and tag" the most abundant looking plant. Instead of harvesting the plant, use that one for seed saving.
3. Storage. After you clean the seeds, make sure you store them in a cool, shady and dry place so they don't get contaminated by mould.
4. Label and record seeds information. McCurdy says seeds have a genealogy just like humans, so the more you know about the seeds history the better it is for passing the seed onto others. Details such as its name, variety, year and where it was harvested are all really useful to include.