The Local Seed Bank organizes an educational day for the Rosary Sisters School Students
14/3/2019 Last week, the local seed bank at UAWC carried out a joint activity with the Rosary Sisters School of Jerusalem. The educational day included several activities, and began by introducing students to UAWC, its activities and involvement in the global movement of peasants (La Via Campesina). This was followed by a scientific lecture about climate change and global warming, its effects on agriculture in Palestine, adaptation mechanisms, and different practices that farmers can adopt to combat climate change. As such, the use of local seeds comes into light, as they are tolerant to high temperatures and do not need irrigation or fertilization, in addition to their health benefits to humans and the environment. Additionally, the local seed bank team discussed the importance of local seeds in achieving farmers’ sovereignty over seeds and enabling them to cultivate seeds with better and consistent quality. In the second part of the lecture, the team provided a detailed explanation on local seeds, their definition, and the merits of preserving them; as local seeds are an integral part of history, heritage of the land, and represent the cornerstone of food sovereignty in Palestine. The students also learned about the main seed varieties, the plant families to which they belong, how to distinguish between the different local seed varieties, the respective costs of cultivating the seeds and their environmental impact. The students’ knowledge on these topics were then tested. In the second session, students learned how to extract and clean the various winter and summer seeds, such as carrots, radishes and pumpkins. They were also trained on how to use the equipment available in the seed bank unit and the different methods of cleaning the seed varieties. At the drying unit, students learned about the procedures applied once the seeds are harvested up until they are dried for storage. Afterwards, students toured the laboratory unit where they were introduced to the various tests conducted on the local seeds, such as the germination process and assessment of vitality potential. Moreover, they learned how to fill the seed samples of the summer season for farmers and how to prepare the required quantities. Discussions about the reasons for focusing on laboratory examinations, how to select seeds, and plant care were followed. The students were also trained on how to grow seeds and produce seedlings, such as squash, eggplant, pumpkin and watermelon, were they learned about the different types of soils and the composition of artificial soil. Towards the end of the tour, students toured the storage units with three levels of storage: short-term, medium- and long-term. The most suitable packaging conditions for storage of local seeds and protection against disease were briefly alluded to as well. This activity is part of an integrated program intended to promote the first local seed bank in Palestine in addition to raising awareness about local seeds and their role in attaining food sovereignty.