The next time you cook up a stir-fry and you’re prepping those beautiful chunks of red, green and yellow peppers, think twice before you toss the stem and seeds into the trash. Pepper, squash and melon are among the easiest seeds to nurture and grow. Ideally, you’re eating organic fruits and veggies and keeping the seeds from the ones you like best: The resulting saved seeds are one of the ways to ensure that your crops are not Monsanto-ized. And if you're ready to take the next steps—planting and harvesting crops—you'd do well to attend the first annual CelebrateSeedNM, a citywide seed exchange.
UNM student Joshlyn Marino, an intern with the City of Albuquerque, is helping to organize this fledgling event as part of her sustainability studies major. She tells me things started coming together when Maria Bustamante, a marketing and community relations specialist at Whole Foods Market, connected the Cultural Services Department with the urban gardening collective Gardeners’Guild. Turns out Cultural Services’ Isabelle Zamora and Gardeners’Guild coordinator Christianna Cappelle have long nurtured the idea of bringing people together for a seed exchange, Marino says. The committee grew to include artists from Old Town, as well as other organizers and seed experts.
That much energy had to result in a big event, and CelebrateSeedNM is it. If you’re a gardener, this is your opportunity to learn about the best seeds for your area and stock up just in time to start spring planting. Cappelle tells me that seeds are incredibly adaptable over microclimates. Within one generation, seed grown in Nob Hill can be planted in the North Valley and will improve year to year.
Anyone can save and store seed for future planting, and kids can see that food in the store started in the ground. In most cases, all you have to do is wash and dry the seeds, then store them in a paper bag. (Don’t keep them in plastic—even a little moisture can cause them to mold or mildew.) CelebrateSeedNM will provide numerous sources for Native American, local, organic and heirloom seeds, as well as plenty of information, workshops, poetry readings, kids' activities and demonstrations.