Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library
Posted: Thursday, September 1st, 2011
by Eric Lewis
An interview with Rebecca Newburn, teacher of sixth graders at Hall Middle School in Larkspur, CA, and creator of the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library.
Lewis: What gave you the idea for this?
Newburn: BASIL (Bay Area Seed Interchange Library) in the Berkeley Ecology Center is a seed library that has been around for 12 years. I loved the idea of a seed lending library and wanted to make the seed saving education a more integral part of the program and have it more available to the general public. Hosting the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library in the Richmond Public Library felt like a perfect fit since both serve to benefit the public and have access to resources and education as cornerstones.
Lewis: How has this impacted your community?
Newburn: A few hundred people have “borrowed” thousands of seeds from the library. The basic idea is that people take seeds, plant them and let some of them go to seed. They return the next generation of seeds. We provide free education on how to return quality seeds to the library so that others can borrow them.
We’re providing free seeds and education, which is allowing people to share resource and save money. In the process of saving seeds, we are creating seeds that are adapted to our climates and soils, which will be increasing more important in an era of erratic weather and climate change. Humans have been saving seeds for 10-12,000 years. Yet in the last 100 years, most people have stopped farming and even those people who still garden rarely save any of their own seeds. As a result, we have lost a huge amount of biodiversity.
By engaging our community in seed saving, we are reconnecting with full-cycle gardening by allowing plants to flower, which provides habitat for beneficial insects and seeds for future generations.
The library also serves as a hub where people into gardening can share ideas and resources.
Lewis: What are the education connections for the classroom?
Newburn: Seed saving is a meaningful way to connect the biology and environmental science curricula to students’ lives. The lending library is organized by plant families. Plants in the same family have similar seed saving requirements to reduce unwanted hybridization. Seed saving is an excellent way to teach about genetics. Students can apply the information in their daily lives in their own gardens or the school gardens and become part of a 12,000-year-old cycle. My vision is that over time some students who learn about seed saving will start to breed their own vegetables and create new varieties and begin to regenerate some biodiversity that has been lost in the last 100 years.
In our school garden we are doing seed saving and have signs explaining how different species are saved properly. (These signs will be available for download on our website, which unfortunately is being a bit wonky.)
Lewis: Do you think that this can be replicated in other communities?
Newburn: Yes, we’ve created the seed lending library as a replicable model. People can go to our “Create a Library” page on RichmondGrows.org and see the process of how we got started and download all of our organization and seed saving material. (Material is now available in English, Spanish and Mandarin.) Since our library opened in June 2010, over 13 other libraries have opened based on our model. Even my sixth graders at Hall Middle School are putting one in our school library in Larkspur.
We’ve connected to other seed lending libraries on our website; check out our “Sister Libraries” under our “Contact” page.
Lewis: What is your vision for the future?
Newburn: My vision is that seed libraries will be a part of school libraries and that seed saving will be an integral part of our curriculum and our school gardens. My hope is that students will appreciate the beauty of nature and it’s diversity and bounty. There is something special about being to plant a lettuce plant and get hundreds of seeds in return. Those seeds will be shared with their friends and families and in the sharing, we will start to re-create heirloom varieties because they will be passed down from generation to generation (or class to class) that have significance to us and our communities.
Lewis: What is your favorite seed from your collection?
Newburn: My favorite seed is the Oregon Spring tomato. My friend Gudrun gave it to me. She’s been growing it in her garden for a few years and it’s a big tomato that ripens early in our foggy summers. It makes me happy to have the Oregon Spring in my garden because it reminds me of my friend… and it’s delicious.
Lewis: What is the biggest surprise from this whole process?
Newburn: How quickly the idea has gone fungal.
Lewis: How can people find out more about this whole process?
Newburn: People can learn more about our libraries and seeds at our website, RichmondGrows.org. We’ve got great resources on our site, including videos on Beans and Peas and Lettuce and Sunflowers. For folks that can’t access YouTube, the videos are also on Vimeo: Beans and Peas and Lettuce and Sunflowers. More videos are being created now. Also, we’re constantly updating our Flickr page. Feel free to use our photos.
Thanks so much for your time, Rebecca. I’m looking forward to seeing how this project continues to flourish and grow!
Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office and is CSTA region 2 director.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…