Curriculum for online training
Seed Saver Online Training in ZOOM
The courses traditionally are organised in winter (January) when the gardeners have time, because during other seasons the attention is devoted to the gardens. Work day evenings are the most suitable - for example, in 2022, three Tuesday evenings in January were chosen, from 18:30 to 20:30.
The courses are announced on the website www.mantots.permakultura.lv/pasakumi immediately after finishing the previous training - which means that the first announcement is published a year ahead.
More active advertising and registration starts after Christmas. At the beginning of January, reminders are sent by email to newly registered participants as well as to the participants from previous years and the members of the Latvian Permaculture Association. Informative Facebook posts are published in gardening groups.
The courses are grouped into the following topics:
* Why is it important to preserve heritage plants and harvest seeds by ourselves.
* Garden, plant health.
* Legislation and seed exchange.
We use materials developed during the “Growing Seed Savers” project in previous years (https://growingseedsavers.org/material/), as well as materials individually prepared by each lecturer.
Selection of Lecturers
We engage lecturers who are experts in their field and understand the importance of seed saving.
Central European University professor, environmental anthropologist involved in research on political ecology, food sovereignty, and environmental justice tells about seed legislation in Latvia and European Union, the global seed savers movement, and the importance of preserving heritage plants.
Lecturer and Project Manager of Bulduri Horticultural Secondary School and Senior Researcher of Institute of Horticulture tells about plant biology and seed harvesting, and answers questions on these topics.
The stories about historical plants are told by Cēsis Medieval Castle gardener who has studied in depth the introduction of cultivars in Latvia, carrying out pollen analyses to find out what plants were grown in Cēsis Castle in the 16th century.
Questions on plant health and protection are covered by the experts of the State Plant Protection Service.
Permaculture designer and successful practitioner who has obtained a Diploma in Permaculture Design in Switzerland explains how to improve soil and diversity in the garden by applying permaculture methods.
Specialist from the Genetic Resource Centre talks about the drying and storage of seeds in a gene bank, which includes also as knowledge about drying and storing conditions at home.
The recorded lectures from previous years are provided to current participants if the same lectures are not repeated in the current courses.
Homework is assigned and materials are provided for completion and research by the next day of the courses.
After each training day, participants fill questionnaires by answering questions on the topics presented - this helps both to master the materials better and highlights the most active and motivated participants. There are participants who fill the questionnaires repeatedly, because the basic task of the questionnaire is to help learn not to evaluate. Participants who complete homework questionnaires receive a certificate and are invited to become a Seed Messenger - a person who creates seed exchange point and activates the seed exchange movement in their place of residence.
In addition to the “mandatory” homework videos, the participants are also given materials for further and more extensive education in seed saving and seed extraction. All of these materials remain available to participants even after the course ends - Google Drive links with presentations, Zoom lecture recordings, Zoom chats are sent. Some of the lecture content and training video materials have been published on the website mantots.permakultura.lv.
After each training day participants are invited to reflect on the topics and to prepare questions in writing to the lecturers. During the lectures, questions can also be asked in Chat window.
Participants most often ask questions about pests and diseases, therefore we invite experts from the State Plant Protection Service to answer these, and if possible permaculture and other experienced gardeners add stories about their methods. Participants themselves also actively share their successful and sometimes less successful experience in pest control and restoring natural balance.
In 2022, 120 persons applied for training. 41 participants attended all 3 days, filled the homework questionnaire and received a certificate testifying that seed savers courses were attended. Many participants chose to receive a digital certificate (not a printed one) to save resources. Participants who have received a certificate have the opportunity to become Seed Messengers which means that they are trained and able to set up a seed exchange point and organise seed exchange events.
Seed Messengers from previous years are invited to participate in all the next courses without charge to refresh and improve their knowledge. As a result, participants from Seed Saver Courses in 2020 became active and inspired in 2022 and organised seed exchange points and events independently.
After 3 years of using this Curriculum and building Seed Exchange network, Seed Messengers trained in these courses have set up 22 seed exchange points in different places in Latvia (see the map here). Activity in each point varies, but awareness grows. This is how the Seed Saver Training Courses help to expand the Seed Savers movement more rapidly.
When providing feedback, the participants pointed out that the virtual format with lecture recordings and materials available online is successful, as the topics of interest can be watched again when it is convenient and videos can be paused, which facilitates the perception of the materials, especially for beginners.
It is important to make sure that emails with the link to the online seminar do not get caught in spam.
30-60 min before the event, all lecturers connect and make sure that the camera and microphone is working and the screen sharing function is available. Event organizers make sure that the recording function is working.
There must be at least two persons organizing the online seminar - one person is the moderator, the other person takes care of technical problems such as admitting delayed participants, answering phone calls and sending Zoom link to those who have not found/received the informative email with the Zoom link.
Day 1: "Heritage plants"
18:00-18:30 “Waiting room”
18:30-19:00 Introductory speech and explanation of homework
19:00-19:15 Seed savers in Europe - we are not alone
19:15-19:30 Website www.mantots.permakultura.lv as a working tool (database)
19.40-20:30 Historical crops in Latvia - from pollen to seeds and seedlings
Introduction to plant reproduction biology and basic terminology in seed saving - watch the recorded lecture from the courses of the previous year.
When watching the video pay attention to: plant categories - self-pollinated, cross-pollinated plants (pollination by wind, insects), vegetative propagation.
Fill the questionnaire and prepare questions about the video.
Watch videos (in English); the videos are well structured, it is possible to understand also without the knowledge of English language:
Day 2: "Garden"
Before the next training day, participants submit questionnaire answers and ask questions about the seed harvesting video in homework
18:15-18:30 "Waiting room"
18:30-19:00 Growing the soil - types of garden beds in different soils
19:00-19:30 Questions and answers about homework videos
19:40-20:30 Biodiversity in the garden and soil
Watch videos about:
Plant diseases: https://www.mantots.permakultura.lv/seklu-lolosana
Fill the questionnaire and prepare questions about the videos.
Day 3: "Seed"
Before the next training day, participants submit questionnaire answers about plant diseases and legumes, tomatoes, cucurbits
18:15-18:30 "Waiting room"
18:30-19:00 Discussion on homework questionnaire; answers to questions about plant diseases
19:00-19:30 Practical experience in seed production: legumes, tomatoes, cucurbits (before this conversation you have to watch videos about the cultivation of these crops)
19:35-19:50 What is allowed by the law, possible changes in legislation, with practical examples
19:50-20:00 Drying, freezing and thawing of seeds
20:00-20:10 How to make seed envelopes, what information to write on envelopes, use of Heritage Plant logo, germination test
20:10-20:20 How to set up a plant seed exchange point
20:20-21:00 Conclusions, feedback
Power in Numbers