a post about seeds

I ask my brother-in-law about the vocational education program he is running.  "I hate the word program.  It's a word for machines, like we're programming kids.  I'm not sure what's better.  Venture sounds like a business word and project isn't much better than program.  What we have is a co-op, but use that term and people will thing you're some kind of Tolstoy in the classroom."

"I bet Tolstoy will someday be forced reading.  They'll make him less dangerous and inaccessible to kids."

"Speaking of accessibility, that is our major issue we're running into.  It sounds simple, but our hands our tied regarding what kids of seeds are accessible to our students.  If I'm going to run a farming program, I need decent seeds."

"What do they want you to use?"

"Well, the first group of people want me using apple seeds.  Yeah, they think macintosh apples are beautiful and the packaging on the product is great."

"Plus, kids are used to apples.  I mean, our elementary kids first learn vocational farming from growing apple trees.  Makes sense."

"But shouldn't kids be challenged to do something different?  Besides, it seems that the big draw of apples are that they are trendy right now.  Perhaps it's the whole naturalist Johnny Appleseed story or maybe it's the whole forbidden fruit concept.  I don't know."  For what it's worth, I don't know why apples symbolize both the fall of man and the teaching profession.

"How about the window variety."

"People want us to adopt those as well.  They point out that it's what true greenhouse agribusiness companies use.  And it's true that the students will use window seeds in the real world, but it's not about the seed.  It's about the learning.  A gardener can honestly use any seed inside or outside.  The fact that one company markets itself as the 'business farming' company doesn't mean it is a reality."

"So, what do you want to see?"

"I'd like to adopt the free seeds.  There's a non-profit seed company started by this guy Linus. Unlike the apple seeds, there is a variety.  You can choose all kinds of types.  Unlike the window seeds, these are not prone to viruses.  You just load what you need and you use it.  The process is very organic."

"But what about help?  I mean, you get window seeds and there are long directions on every package and you can send a letter to a support center."

"There is a whole support network of volunteer farmers who can help you out.  But still, I want my students to problem solve farming issues on their own.  Isn't that a part of the learning process as well?"

"So what's the hang-up then?"

"Well, the free seeds have no real marketing and our district assumes that free means lower quality.  So Linus' seeds aren't even an option with our program.  Which is too bad.  We'd save a ton of money, have a flexible seed system and the students would still learn every important farming skill in the process."  

It has me thinking about our district's love of the iParchment and the fact that we ignore any free alternatives.  It's as if those who are governed by social norms have less of a voice than those governed purely by market norms.

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Incidentally, I like growing Mint.  It started with a little kernel and it's growing into something beautiful.


  1. Anonymous6:12:00 AM

    I also want to point out that the seeds that Linus offers tend to be faster and grow better in environments that are not always farm-friendly.

  2. I shared this post with Dr. John Strange, my EDM310 professor at the University of South Alabama. He only eats macintosh apples.