Categorized | Agriculture, Featured

Seed symposium kicks off with free lecture (April 16)

The Seed Symposium kicks off Friday evening with a free presentation by Matthew Dillon, founder of Advocacy Organic Seed Alliance, and Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Ore. (Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center)


The long-term goal of the symposium is to initiate a Hawaii Public Seed Initiative (HPSI) to support on-farm/garden research and expertise in seed variety trials, selection, saving, and storage, and to collaborate with agricultural stakeholders in the development of an open-pollinated organic seed industry for market farmers and home gardeners in Hawaii and the Pacific.

Our first goal is to bring together interested farmers and gardeners in the state, to share knowledge of seed growing, selection, and saving and to plan a future Public Seed Initiative. If you are a farmer or home producer in the State of Hawaii and would like to learn more about growing, saving, and improving seed for your farm or garden, please join us in Kona for this unique opportunity.

All presentations and workshop sessions are at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort, Kahaluu Conference Room.

Friday, April 16 – Free Public Talk

5:30–7 p.m. — “The Story of Seed: Wild, Domesticated, Bred, and Engineered. Where Did We Begin and Where Might We Go?” Public Presentation by Matthew Dillon, Founder and Director of Advocacy Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), and Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon ( ) There is no charge for this lecture.

Saturday, April 17 – Seed Symposium, Day One

7:30 a.m. – Registration

8:30 a.m. – Opening Ceremony

9 a.m. – Welcome — Dr. Matthews Hamabata, Executive Director, The Kohala Center (TKC)
Dr. Gregory Chun, Vice President, Keauhou-Kahaluu Education Group, Kamehameha Schools

9:10 a.m. – Overview of Symposium Goals and Vision, Nancy Redfeather, TKC — Summary of Statewide Seed Assessment, Dr. Hector Valenzuela, UH CTAHR and Matthew Dillon, OSA

9:45 a.m. – “History of Seed Industry Development,” Matthew Dillon, OSA — Modern agriculture is modeled on the principals and virtues of industrialization, namely: uniformity, large-scale production and finance, technological solutions, and marginalization of humans and their cultures. In the seed industry this approach has resulted in biopiracy of indigenous knowledge and resources, loss of genetic diversity, concentration in ownership of genetics, and technologies that threaten the integrity of the natural resource of seed. This session will explore how we got here and envision the restoration of our community seed systems.

10:45 a.m. – Break

11 a.m. – “State of Seed in Hawaii – A Historical Perspective on Seed Work at UH Manoa,” Dr. Ted Radovich, UH CTAHR and Dr. Hector Valenzuela, UH CTAHR — Over the past 100 years, UH Mānoa researchers developed new types of vegetables and other horticultural crops for Hawaii’s farmers. Many farmer-selected “heirloom” varieties served as the starting point for the college’s vegetable crop improvement program. Valenzuela and Radovich take you on a journey of discovery of the rich heritage of plant breeding and seed work at UH Manoa.

Noon – Lunch Buffet in the Dining Room

1 p.m. – “Seed Saving Basics,” Dr. John Navazio, OSA and Micaela Colley, OSA — Whether you’ve saved seed before or are a complete beginner, this workshop will cover the basics you need for success. We will cover reproductive biology, timing of planting, ideal population sizes, preventing cross-pollination, and seed maturation and harvest.

3 p.m. – Break

3:15 p.m. – “Separating the Seed from the Chaff: Seed Cleaning Basics,” Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed and Micaela Colley, OSA — Clean seed is not only easier to plant, it also improves longevity and prevents deterioration during storage. This seed cleaning tutorial will pick up where “Seed Saving Basics” left off. We’ll cover both practical hands-on and mechanical seed cleaning techniques adaptable to any scale of seed growing.

4 p.m. – “Seed Storage,” Alvin Yoshinaga, UH-CCRT — Practical seed storage methods for small seed savers. Learn to identify which seeds can be stored and effective ways of storing seeds using equipment and supplies readily available to the general public, including a list of Internet resources.

4:30-6:30 p.m. – Seed Exchange hosted by Regenerations Botanical Garden — Seed exchanges are definitive grassroots events that bring all seed enthusiasts (amateurs and professionals alike) to the table. Regenerations Botanical Garden from Kauai is proud to host this first statewide seed exchange! Please bring your finest GMO-free, pest-free, and non-invasive seed to freely share with others. You are also encouraged to table information about your garden or farm with your seed. Sorry, no cuttings or potted plants. Please bring envelopes for gathering seed.

4:30-7:30 p.m. – Rest/Swim/Dinner — The Veranda Lounge is open for dinner and there are numerous restaurants close by.

7:30-9 p.m. – “Seed: A Farmer’s Perspective,” Dinner & Talk by Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed — Where do seed people come from? Hear one farmer’s story of how he went from growing salad greens to saving seed, breeding new organic varieties, producing commercial organic seed that is shipped worldwide, and fighting to prevent contamination of his work from genetic engineering. Frank will share the values, vision, and motivations behind his three decades of work as a seed head.

Sunday, April 18 – Seed Symposium, Day Two

8:30 a.m. – Historical Perspective and Reproduction of Hawaiian Crops, Jerry Konanui

9:30 a.m. – “Conducting On-farm Variety Trials,” Micaela Colley, OSA — Variety trials are an essential tool for farmers and gardeners to select crops and varieties best suited to local climate, field conditions, and markets. Trials are also critical to assess the seed production potential of crops in Hawaii. Learn the skills to conduct scientific trials, to evaluate performance under local organic conditions, and to increase success in seed growing. We will also discuss the potential of developing coordinated trial networks in Hawaii to share information on trial results.

10:30 a.m. – Break

10:45 a.m. – “Fundamentals of Plant Variety Improvement and Breeding for Organics,” Dr. John Navazio, OSA; Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed; and Micaela Colley, OSA — Learn the basic skills to develop and adapt seed varieties for your organic farm or garden conditions. Organic Plant Breeding Specialist Dr. John Navazio and seed farmer-breeder Frank Morton will teach you how to select for reproductive fitness and yield, horizontal resistance to disease, and improved performance under heat, drought, or other environmental stresses.

Noon – Lunch Buffet in the Dining Room

1 p.m. – University/Farmer/Extension/Community Panel and Discussion — “Past and Future Seed Sustainability for Hawaii.” Panel Members include:
* Moderator: Dr. Hector Valenzuela, Vegetable Specialist, UH CTAHR
* Dr. Russell Nagata, Hawaii Island County Administrator, UH CTAHR
* Glenn Teves, UH CTAHR County Extension Agent, Molokai
* Ellen Sugawara, Ginger Farmer/Seed Collector, Molokai
* Paul Massey, Regenerations Botanical Garden, Kauai Seed Exchange
* Jill Wagner, Hawaii Island Native Seed Bank
* Greg Smith, Market Farmer/Former Seed Grower, Ka‘u
* Alton Arakaki, UH-CTAHR County Extension, Molokai

3 p.m. – Break

3:15 p.m. – Island Group Discussion — Island groups will meet, share ideas about next steps, and then prioritize them.

4 p.m. – Sharing Next Steps

4:30 p.m. – Closing

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