In this workshop participants are being introduced to the topic of seeds distribution in nature, and they learn how to make a simple handmade bag for seeds.
Banner created by Polish artist Jaśmina Wójcik for the project Widoki (Views), 2022
Goal of the exercise
Raising awareness of the importance of seeds in our life; acquiring basic knowledge about how seeds are dispersed in nature and in our garden; saving seeds and getting inspiration on how to know them better.
Number of participants:
From 3 to 20 persons
Gardeners and anybody interested in saving seed
Age of participants:
12 and above
Duration of the method
90 to 120 min
Materials / Location
A big sheet of paper on which you draw a circle and divide it like a cake into six segments representing six ways seeds are dispersing (wind, water, animals, humans, gravity, explosion).
A4 paper and crayons or pencils to create seed bags
Garden or park, the more biodiversity the better.
It’s a good idea to read up on seeds, understand their diversity and how they are dispersed. A good starting point is this Wikipedia article. Write down some examples. Gardeners might find it useful to have some basic knowledge on how to store seeds.
If you don’t know how to make a simple seed bag, you might want to watch the following video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgxIuIUXcwM
Step by step
1. Which seed are you?
Ask participants to carefully look around the garden, or park, for smaller and bigger seeds near them. Then ask them two questions: “Which seed is the most meaningful, important or interesting for you at this moment?” and “Which seed are you today?” Answers should be in the form of a drawing or an expression through body language. The other participants are asked to guess which seed is being shown. Then each participants explains why he has chosen this particular seed. Examples for answers could be: “Today I feel like a chestnut: warm, stable and well-grounded.” Or: “I have chosen dandelion seeds because I used to blow them as a child and love the memory of it.” Finally, thank the participants and “greet” all the seeds in the garden.
2. How do seeds travel?
Ask each participant in turn to think of the seed with which they have identified themselves earlier and by which method they disperse to start a new life as a plant. Collect the answers and write their name on the previously prepared sheet depicting the various modes of dispersal.
If a group is small or if the chosen seeds lack diversity, suggest a list of other seeds to illustrate how different seeds can be. The aim is to familiarise the participants with the biology of seeds and their role in the ecosystems in which they thrive. The information can also be useful for designing an urban garden.
3. How do you save seeds?
Ask the participants to walk around the garden or park, and collect some more seeds, either on their own or divided into small groups of two or three persons that focus on seeds that disperse in a particular way. Once they have returned, show them a simple way to prepare a seed bag (see Preparation). Then ask them about the kind of information that should figure on a seed bag. Common answers are common or scientific name, date and place of collection, colour, smell and taste, need for water and sun, time when they should be collected or planted. etc. Choose wisely the ones you believe to be the most important ones and ask participants to inscribe them on their seed bags by using different colours, drawings, pictograms and other means they can think of. Conclude the session by informing participants about the best methods of storing seeds (e.g. drying them, where to store them, etc.).
Instead of the entire workshop, focus just on one part.
When talking about seed dispersal, ask participants what seeds they consume regularly, where these seeds come from and how long they need to travel until they reach you to start a discussion about the ecological footprint and food sovereignty.
During the final discussion, talk about seed banks in various parts of the world and about community seed banks.
Using graphical means to describe the seeds instead of written notes will make the method more inclusive.
You can find a lot of information online about seed storage.
Here are a few examples: