By Zachary Czuprynski, Prescott College Sustainability Coordinator
On Sunday, March 5, the Crossroads Center and Cafe at Prescott College in Prescott, AZ, were filled with community members for the resurrection of Seed Mania!, an event that had not occurred since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-hosted by Slow Food Prescott, Prescott College and the Green Mountain Center for Sustainability, Seed Mania! educates and empowers people of all skill levels to learn how to grow food. Educational workshops included topics like Seed Starting & Care, “Amaizing” Corn, Backyard Composting, Seedlings to Garden, Seed Saving, the Lifecycle of Fungi, and more.
Simultaneously, the Crossroads Center and Cafe area hosted 25 resource tables from community businesses, governmental and nonprofit organizations like Delicious Earth Farm, APS Repollinators, Prescott Public Library, and the Highlands Center for Natural History. Seed Mania! also featured a seed exchange and sale, a gardening book exchange, and even a zero-waste table. A never-ending blast of fun activities (lead by Girl Scouts, 4-H, school gardens and others) happened throughout the day in the designated Kids Area. However, just as many adults identified compost critters with magnifying glasses, molded seed balls, and drew favorite plants. At 5 pm, Chef Molly Beverly and volunteers from Slow Food Prescott brought out a seed-themed meal to feed 150 people. There was spicy black bean soup, Peruvian purple corn muffins, and mesquite flour cookies for dessert.
Our keynote speakers were Angel Martinez from the Yavapai-Apache Nation and Manuel Lucero, the director of the Museum of Indigenous People. Angel opened Seed Mania! 2023 with an invocation called Garden of Life which reflected on her healing work with gardening and plants while offering insights from plant cycles and the environment in which humans live. Manuel gave the keynote address while participants ate dinner. He spoke about seeds from two different perspectives. The first is the perspective of “seeds” as in food. Manuel shared many stories of native foods taken and re-labeled with a Western history. Secondly, Manuel spoke about planting “seeds of change” in society by telling the story of the transformation of the Museum of Indigenous People from its appropriated historical roots to its current mission –“To instill understanding and respect for the indigenous cultures of the Southwest.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sets forth 10 Principles of Agroecology as a guide for promoting sustainable agriculture and food systems. These principles include co-creating and sharing knowledge, diversity, synergies, resilience, human and social values, cultural and food traditions, and more. Although these principles were not necessarily at the forefront of our minds while planning Seed Mania!, in retrospect, they were in action almost everywhere during the event. Seed Mania! could not have happened without community collaboration; the sharing of diverse knowledge and synergies between our partners and co-sponsors; the help from Prescott College students who staffed tables, sorted seeds, set up the venue, and oversaw kids’ activities; and the willingness of participants to listen and engage with each other. Seed Mania! 2023 was wildly successful, and we look forward to hosting Seed Mania! again, on campus, on Sunday, March 3, 2024!