Seed Production

Student writing labels for plants

In 2011, the Horticulture Farm started a contract with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The seed company offers a large variety of seeds, most of them produced by SESE or small farmers rather than purchased whole sale. Based out of Virginia, SESE has over 60 growers all over the US producing a variety of seeds, including Organic Certified and Heirloom varieties. They are continuing to expand, helping farmers diversify their income and creating a valuable network.

The Berea College Horticulture Farm has produced seeds such as cowpeas, Mexican sunflowers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and others. Seed saving has become a good source of side income for the farm but also offers a valuable educational opportunity for students. Over the years, students have learned the basics of selecting plants to grow to seed and seed saving processes. For example, to save tomato seeds, students participate in planting and caring for the tomato plants. They then learn how to identify the optimal time for harvesting. Students smash the tomatoes, monitor the fermentation process and then help clean and set up the drying station for seeds. Lastly, students learn how to clean the dried seeds and prepare them for shipping. For many, this is a new experience, but they learn that it is not an overly complicated process. Perhaps most importantly, this process is key in giving students and understanding of the whole farm system.