Thank You

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We wanted to take a moment to thank some of our friends that have been such a big help to us recently. We recently worked with MakeStickers.com to create a label for the plant pots we give away. The team there was amazing to work with and they did a fantastic job! We highly recommend that you check them out for all your sticker and label designs.

We also want to thank OneGreenWorld for their generous donation of a Desert King fig, and some lovely Tristar strawberry starts! We had ordered some new varieties of yacón to trial this year, and some other Andean tubers we hadn’t grown yet. We’ll be giving away the strawberries this spring, and will grow the fig on for a year or two, then start work on rooting cuttings to give away!

We also want to mention that it is now possible to donate your used vehicle to Solidarity Seed Initiative, here is a link to our CarEasy.org donation website. CarEasy.org is a really great organization, they helped us set up our account, and we accepted our first two vehicle donations near the end of last year. It’s a very simple process, just go to our donation page, fill in your information, and CarEasy.org will work with you to schedule a pickup of your unwanted vehicles. This is fully tax deductible, and you car does not even have to be in running order, our donations from last year both had to be towed away.

Thank you to all of our supporters, hope you have a great spring gardening season!

Worker Ownership in the Agriculture Industry

In addition to giving away free plants and seeds, we strongly support worker ownership and workplace democracy in the Agriculture industry. We would like to take a moment to applaud the City of Berkeley for passing an ordinance to support the development of worker cooperatives, and the good work of the Sustainable Economies Law Center for pushing this forward.

The ordinance supports conversion of existing businesses to worker cooperatives, prioritizes worker cooperatives in the City’s procurement process, and targets worker cooperative development with its revolving loan fund.

Agricultural workers are some of the most exploited workers of all, and face discrimination, poor working conditions often close to modern-day slavery, outdated labor laws, and low rates of pay. More employee ownership of agricultural businesses is the best way to solve these problems.

Worker cooperatives are community focused businesses that puts the needs of their workers and the local community front and center, instead of a profit-driven focus that benefits owners and distant shareholders over the good of the community.

If you would like more information on how to start a worker cooperative in the State of California, please contact us for assistance.

Members of Berkeley City Council and supporters of worker cooperatives, 2/26/19 (from theselc.org)

Members of Berkeley City Council and supporters of worker cooperatives, 2/26/19 (from theselc.org)

Free Plants at FIGMENT

We will be at FIGMENT Oakland in Mosswood Park this Saturday, September 29th, from 11:00 a.m. until we run out of plants to give away! We had a lot of fun last year, and are excited to be coming back.

FIGMENT is a really cool participatory art event, we are looking forward to seeing all of the amazing projects and performers this year. We will have approximately 100 Kalanchoe “Mother of Thousands” plants to give away, along with a few trays of greens, succulents, and a few other random things. You should come early as we expect to “sell out” pretty fast.

Plant sale update: We are very pleased to announce that we raised over $300 at our plant sale fundraiser last month! For those of you who aren’t in the California Bay Area, we hope to have an online store up in the near future so that you can purchase plants via mail order to help support our mission. We are also accepting donations of seeds for spring propagation, we especially look for rare and unusual seed of plants not common in cultivation, and difficult to propagate seeds. If you have seed you’d like to share with us please email solidarityseeds@gmail.com to arrange a donation.

Thank you, and we hope you are looking forward to a bountiful harvest season!

Late Summer Update

We hope everyone has had a good summer in the garden so far!  Harvest season is quickly approaching, we've already had some excellent Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye tomatoes and loads of purple podded pole beans this summer, and are excited for our Honeynut squashes to finish!  

We have been busy giving away plants at our Little Free Nursery for most of the spring and summer, and also have some exciting news, we are now an official 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit organization! You may have noticed our new Donate page, any donations to us are now fully tax deductible! We truly appreciate your generosity.

We also will be having a plant sale fundraiser in Berkeley, please message SolidaritySeeds@gmail.com if you would like the address. We will have a lot of exciting tropical and indoor plants, as well as perennial edibles and landscape plants.  Some of them are rare or unusual, for example, we will have a 6 month old Amorphophallus titanum we grew from seed from TitAnumseeds. We will also have seed-grown Monstera deliciosa (swiss-cheese plant) and Manihot escuelenta (casava), some beautiful Saurumatum venosum and Amorphophallus konjac (voodoo lilies), many varieties of Brugmansia, including species arborea from seed, and lots more cool stuff!  

The sale will be next Sunday, August 26, from noon to 4pm.  We hope to see you there, or one of our other upcoming events, thanks!

Scion Exchange

Happy New Year!  The Golden Gate Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers Association will be hosting a scion exchange for grafting fruit trees on January 20 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.  

WHERE:

Ed Roberts Campus,
3075 Adeline Street, in Berkeley
located next to the Ashby BART station

This is a fantastic opportunity to increase fruit production in your yard, for free!  "Scions" are dormant branches cut from desirable fruit-bearing varieties of trees, shrubs, and vines.  Some plants don't reliable produce roots from vegetative cuttings, or their root system is not vigorous and does not support a healthy and productive plant.  Scions are grafted onto "rootstock," a vigorous growing and often disease resistant plant variety with less desirable fruit or flowers.  You can also graft scions to existing established trees to add more varieties of fruit without using more space in your garden.

There is a $5 entrance fee, and it is preferred but not mandatory to bring your own scions for trade.  Here is some information on selecting and storing scion wood.   There will also be grafting workshops and demonstrations, and you can even get assistance in grafting your new scions from knowledgable volunteers.  

Grafting isn't just for woody plants though, in a future post we will talk about grafting vegetables, including the super popular "Pomato," a tomato plant grafted onto a potato plant!  Now is the time for grafting before spring growth starts, hope to see you at the Scion Exchange!

Really Really Free Market

Our next plant and seed giveaway will be at the Berkeley Really Really Free Market, which will be held at the Berkeley Sports Basement on Tuesday, August 15 at 5:00 p.m. 

Here is a link to their Facebook page.  All are welcome, take what you need.  This is not a swap-meet and does not require that you bring items for trade.  

We also had a really great time at the FIGMENT Oakland event a little while back.  It was a beautiful day, and we ended up giving away over 100 plants and over 200 packets of hand-collected seed to community members, and had a lot of fun too! 

We had hoped to get some photos up on our blog from the event from FIGMENT, but unfortunately haven't heard back from their photographer.  We'll be sure to take our own at the Really Really Free Market.

One of the biggest things we heard from visitors at FIGMENT was that they didn't have space for a full garden, so would like indoor plants, and varieties they can grow in pots.  

We gave away mostly vegetable starts at FIGMENT, for this upcoming event will will have a lot more ornamental and indoor plants available.  Please stop, we'd love to meet you and chat about gardening!

Little Free Nursery

One of our favorite things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is the proliferation of Little Free Libraries. From their FAQ: 

A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share.
Little Free Library book exchanges have a unique, personal touch. There is an understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books with their community; Little Libraries have been called “mini-town squares.”

We think this is such a fantastic idea that we decided to start a "Little Free Nursery." The next time you are walking near San Pablo Park in Berkeley you just might find it. We hope that other folks will star their own "Little Free Nurseries" and share their extra garden starts with their friends and neighbors. Drop us a line if you are interested in hosting your own "Little Free Nursery" in your sidewalk strip via our Contact page. 

Seed Starting Resources

Starting your own seeds at home is very rewarding, and much more cost effective than purchasing starter plants.  Every seed is different, the first thing you should do when trying to germinate new seeds is do a web search for "PLANT NAME germination."  It is often helpful to use the Latin, or scientific, name of the plant with this search.  

The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds no more than twice their thickness in the soil.  We recommend using 4" pots with a sterile seed starting mix to prevent fungal diseases.  You can use soil from your garden or yard, but we recommend pasteurizing it first using moist heat for at least 30 minutes at between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  This will kill off most pathogens, but still leave beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae.  

Seeds often germinate better with basal, or bottom, heat.  You can purchase commercial seed mats, or can leave the trays of seeds on warm appliances, like the top of your refrigerator.  

Some seeds need light to germinate.  These seeds should be "surface sown" and not covered with soil.  Lettuce is a common seed that requires light.  You will find this information when you search "PLANT NAME germination." 

This link from Sunset Magazine has a lot of good additional information.  

Often the best thing you can do is experiment through trial and error.  Some seeds might need cold treatment before sowing, others might need special treatments like smoke or special plant hormones to break their dormancy and start germinating.  

If you need some free seeds to get started, send us an email at solidarityseeds@gmail.com and we will let you know how you can join our seed library.  And here is a great blog post from Planting Justice on sharing seeds and local seed sharing resources in the San Francisco Bay area.  

Happy propagating!

Hi

We are Solidarity Seed Initiative, we think that you should start gardening and we want to help! Growing our own plants helps increase resilience and self-sufficiency in our communities. By growing food crops and medicinal herbs at home you can save money and get all the positive health and psychological benefits associated with gardening.

We think that absolutely anyone and everyone should grow plants. Even if you only have a small amount of space, you can still grow herbs in your windowsill or make a succulent terrarium.  It doesn’t have to cost much (or any) money to start gardening at home, and it can be a lot of fun!

We support the practices of seed saving and sharing as a means of keeping costs down for home gardeners, as well as maintaining biodiversity. It is estimated that over 90% of all seed varieties have disappeared in the last 80 years.

Also, seed saving and sharing and home gardening are all acts of resistance. Every plant you grow at home from heirloom seed means you rely that much less on corporate agriculture firms and their destructive practices of intensive monocropping, increased pesticide use, insufficiently tested GMO crops, and their exploitation of undocumented workers.

And most importantly, it just always tastes better when you grow it yourself!