Saving Seeds: A New Tool for TCP Farmers

by Betsy Agle

Yet another new practice is being added to those that have been taught for many years in TCP communities … how to save some of the seeds from one season’s harvest to planting at beginning of the next season.  A widespread practice among many long-time gardeners in the US, this technique has not been widely used in TCP communities. Before they started practicing sustainable farming techniques, smaller harvests meant that families could not feed themselves and save seeds. When they ran out of the types of seeds they commonly used, families could buy more from the market. Buying seeds often put them into debt.

_earthenware-pot-one-type-of-container-used-by-the-tcp-families-to-save-seeds

Earthenware pot — one type of container used by the TCP families to save seeds.

But which types of seeds to save and how to save them? Several months ago, Roy took two community leaders — Marco Briones from El Tule and Antonio Gaméz from La Majada — to a “Community Seed Bank Workshop” in a city about four hours away in Comayagua. Marco and Antonio were enthusiastic about this technique, believing it would help families continue planting drought-resistant bean and corn seeds. This summer Vecinos Honduras had given these special “traditional” seeds to desperate farmers whose harvests were suffering or failing. These particular seeds cannot be bought on the market and are much favored by families for their color and taste.

Marco and Antonio were skeptical, however, of the advice that each community should create a consolidated seed bank with many types of seeds and plants. This practice requires refrigeration in the tropical environment of Honduras. Almost none of the TCP families have refrigerators.

“Seed saving will work,” Antonio predicted, “if we can find a way to have families save their own seeds with supplies available either free or at a low cost to them. He was right!

After receiving instruction from Marco Briones, a youth who grew up in their community, several farmers in El Tule are experimenting with saving some of the precious seeds from the crops they are currently harvesting in the fall of 2016.   This is a powerful example of the Vecinos agro-ecological model that is built on the foundation that farmers learn best by experimenting and identifying solutions that work for them. Some containers or locations for seed saving will undoubtedly work better than others…. or as we might say, the best teacher is often trial-and-error.

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