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Watauga Cooperative Extension Offers Free Seed Saving Workshop Series: July 12 & October 4

Cooperative Extension, the Watauga County Seed Library, and Laughing Springs Farm of Boone, NC have a two part seed-saving series designed to help farmers and gardeners grow and save the highest quality seed possible, for themselves, for the community, and possibly as a supplemental income via seed sales. The art and science of seed saving has a long history in the region, with traditional varieties of beans, tomatoes, squash, corn, and other vegetables continuing to be important for High Country farmers and gardeners. Preserving, reinvigorating, and even advancing such heirloom seed lines is an opportunity for growers hoping to save money and increase the productivity of their land.

The first of these two workshops will take place on Friday, July 12, 2024 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. The second Seed Saving workshop will take place on Friday, October 4, 2024 from 2:30 – 5:30 PM. Both workshops are free to interested gardeners and farmers, with registration in advance required in order to reserve a space. Both workshops will be held at Laughing Springs farm, but participants will meet and park at the Watauga Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Rd., Boone NC 28607. Shuttle service will be provided to and from Laughing Springs Farm as part of the workshop.

Cooperative Extension, the Watauga County Seed Library, and Laughing Seed Farm of Boone, NC hope to help cultivate seed-saving knowledge and skills via these two workshops to be held at different stages of the 2024 growing season. Effective seed saving begins with good fertility and growing conditions, and continues with proper pollination and supporting the mother plant with everything it needs. For this reason, the first Seed Saving workshop of the year will take place during mid-Summer, long before most seeds are collected. During the morning workshop of 7/12/2024, presenters Jay and Nora Bost of Laughing Springs Farm, Monica Gowan of the Watauga Seed library, and Richard Boylan of NC Cooperative Extension will guide participants through planting for seed crops, isolation distances, rogueing unfit plants, hand pollination techniques, and other early-season strategies for the best viability of heirloom seed lines. A brief introduction to the tools and techniques of wet-processing and dry-processing various seed crops will also be part of this session.

The  second Seed Saving workshop of 10/4/2024 will go into greater detail on seed harvest, cleaning, processing (wet or dry, depending upon crop), storage, and germination-testing. For more information and to reserve a space for these workshops, email richard_boylan@ncsu.edu or call the Watauga Cooperative Extension Center at 828-264-3061.