SOS: Saving Our Seeds for a Sustainable Future

Seed Saving

In the final months of school, garden lessons turn to a continuation of the life cycle with ‘Saving Our Seeds’ workshops at all grade levels. This exercise connects students to sustainable practices that preserve their favorite plants, ensure food security and support benchmarks in science (life cycle), social studies (food economics) and more.

During hands-on lessons, students dig into discussions and activities that illustrate stages of the life cycles (germination/birth, growth, reproduction, and death) of various plants and animals, pointing out details that distinguish each stage. Students also learn the value of seed saving and how it affects food availability for the future. As our jr. gardeners/scientists/economists become more experienced, the learning possibilities are endless. Here are just a few ideas to get started:

Discussion Points

  • Where can you find seeds in the garden? In a flower? In a fruit? In a dried pod?
  • At which point of the life cycle is a seed? The beginning or the end? Answer: Both! Discuss when a seed is at the end (in flower, fruit or seed pod) and when a seed is at the beginning (when planted and watered) of the life cycle.
  • Why save seeds? Discuss the value of preserving genes from healthy plants, saving money, food security, etc.
  • How does age / storage affect germination rates? Review germination, discuss how seeds lose their ability to germinate over time or under poor storage conditions (heat, moisture, oxidation, etc).Seed Saving

Activities

  • Students divide into groups to search for seeds throughout the garden and collect with volunteer and/or teacher supervision.
  • Seeds can be compared by weight, shape, color, texture, etc.
  • Demonstrate different ways seeds travel – by wind (lettuce seeds with feathers fly in the wind), wing (birds eating from a plate of sunflower seeds), water (place a seeding flower or open seed pod on a mound, simulate rain with watering can to watch a seeds travel in the water stream and replant itself downstream).
  • Seeds are sorted, categorized, bagged or jarred, and labeled with collection dates.
  • Seeds are then stored in a cool, dry, airtight place for use in next year’s school garden and/or planted in starts containers for students to add to their summer home gardens.

Seed SavingCheck out more ideas for all grades and experience levels in this free e-book download made available by the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.

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Sept. 22 Workshops: Youth Gardens as Classrooms

Home Gardening Support Network, Maui School Garden Network, Community Work Day and Grow Some Good are pleased to announce a Youth Gardening Workshop to make school garden information and experiences more accessible to teachers, volunteers and others who work with youth-oriented garden programs. Click on the link below for a workshop agenda:
These workshops will feature hands-on activities to help integrate school garden work within all disciplines and give advice on how to maintain and fund school gardens. The workshop day will run from 8:00 am – 1:30 pm with optional post workshop sessions from 2:00-3:00 pm and will include lunch and a food demonstration.
Register by emailing Anne Gachuhi at hgsn@gmail.com or calling (808) 446-2361.  The fee is $35.00.
Scholarships:  Kihei Elementary School and Lokelani Intermediate School teachers, staff and counselors can receive scholarships from Grow Some Good by sending an email with interest to info@GrowSomeGood.org. Please include your name, school, grade level and phone number for follow up in your email.
We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to gain knowledge that will help advance your programs and create more real-life learning opportunities for your students.
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Seaweed Lesson and Use in the Garden

The following is a synopsis of seaweed lessons and materials used for YMCA classes (mixed ages).

Goal: Give students a understanding of the value of seaweed and it’s importance in our Hawaiian economy and culture.
Time: 30 minutes

Basic Plan:

1) Gather students in circle.  Ask them to share what they know about seaweed or ask them to describe seaweed.  Describe/ask about the 3 words: Seaweed,  Limu (Hawaiian name for seaweed) and Algae (botanical name for seaweed).

2) Ask them when they last used a seaweed product? What if I told you that I bet that all of you put seaweed in your mouth this morning?   Seaweed is a key ingredient in toothpaste!

3) Go over the 3 names that you’ll find in common products  that are actually seaweed.   See this lesson for more information.   Kids will try to tell you that seaweed is not in their chocolate or Strawberry Ice Cream! Seaweeds are high in nutrients and minerals. They are used as a biofuel and have some amazing properties that are used in medicines and vitamins.

4) Talk about how seaweed is different from other plants.   What does it need to grow (sunlight, nutrients, water)?  Talk about how it doesn’t get nutrients from the rocks, sand but some seaweeds establish a “holdfast” to keep them from floating away.  But some seaweeds do just float in the water.   Show examples of how some seaweed has “bladder balls” (THEY POP REALLY LOUD!)  that provides buoyancy so the plant grows up toward the surface.

5) Describe the 3 basic colors of seaweed – Green, Brown and Red.  Describe the different sizes and shapes.  Some seaweed is too small to see and some grows over 100 feet tall.  Seaweeds in Hawaii can grow up to 12 inches per week although that is not normal.  The large kelp beds of California can grow up to 2 feet a day!  They cut it weekly to make fertilizers.


6) Show the students how we are going to rinse the seaweed that was collected from the beach.  Remind them that there may be small snails in the seaweed.  We rinse the seaweed to remove the salt before we will put in the garden. Have students take a handful and rinse it,  dunk it again to rinse and put on a screen.

7) Have the kids sort through the seaweed on the screen identifying as many different forms of seaweed as they can. Put the excess seaweed in the buckets for the last step.

8) As they find a new seaweed, have them place it in a container on the table. Observe how the seaweed changes as it it placed in water. Some look like slime but become beautiful underwater. Kids will stuff the bottles if you let them so encourage them to put in just enough to clearly see and identify.

9) If you have older kids and/or more time, have the kids go through the additional resources and identify the different seaweeds. Is it alien, endemic or unknown. Is it edible?

10) Have the students take the buckets of seaweed and toss them around the garden adding great minerals and fertilizer!

Answers to Tough Questions: (Beware)

  • Can I take this seaweed home?  No – Your mom won’t want stinky seaweed!  or   Sure, after we spread it on the garden soil, you can come back with your mom or dad and take home whatever you want.
  • Can I eat this seaweed?  No – even if it is edible, we do not have the correct cleaning facilities for seaweed.
  • Is this a piece of coral? Yes, dead coral is often used by seaweed as a holdfast.  When waves are strong it gets washed up to the beach.  Did you know that coral is actually a colony of small animals (polyps) and has a symbiotic relationship with a special algae (seaweed) called zooxanthellae.  If the algae dies, so does the coral.  This is often referred to as coral bleaching because the coral will turn white.
  • Is this a new seaweed? There is always at least one child who will keep bringing the same type of seaweed up and asking this.  Ask them to describe the color, size and texture of the leaves and make them conclude that it is the same as the last one they brought up.
  • Do fish eat seaweed?  Yes, but not all fish.  Many fish hide in seaweed.  Some even change colors so they are very hard to see when in their favorite seaweed.  Turtles also eat seaweed as well as many crabs, star fish,  and other sea animals.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Id of Hawaii Seaweeds: http://www.hawaii.edu/reefalgae/natives/sgfieldguide.htm

Id of Edible Limu in Hawaii: http://www.hawaii.edu/reefalgae/publications/ediblelimu/

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