Caring for Seeds
Children notice that the remnants of food that come into the classroom contain seeds. We are particularly curious about the pepper seeds spread through the pile of food scraps and pull these seeds off the scraps creating a seed pile.
seeds are getting
Creating a seed bank requires ongoing carefulness and collective action
We delicately remove seeds from scraps.
We place the seeds in trays and intently watch them dry.
But pepper seeds are not the only seeds in the food scraps. Other seeds accompany the scraps : zucchini seeds, tomato seeds.
Even during our meals, we notice that many of the fruits we eat also have seeds. These seeds make it into a growing collection: pear seeds, apple seeds. As the mound of seeds grows, we propose to the children to create a seed bank.
We wash the seeds in the sink using cold water, ensuring that seeds don’t go down the sink.
Each seed moves through these preservation rituals, awaiting in a pile to go into small glass jars
“I’m getting the seed ready” – Malik
“Collecting seed means taking seeds of the same type and putting them into the jar” – Malik
Ensuring that the seeds have enough time to fully dry, we leave the lids off the jars for a few days.
As we separate seeds by kind, we remember their uniqueness.
Yet, our curated process is not fully reliable neither effective. We are not in control.
After a few weeks, we notice that a pile of seeds grows “fuzzy things” and releases strong odours.
“It has a web on it” – Cameron
“The white right there, that’s the fuzzies”- Emmanuel
“Too spiked, too prickly”- Heather
“It feels soft”- Roberto
We gather to discuss how the seeds became fuzzy and stinky and wonder what to do with them. “The seeds are stinky and they need to be washed with soap and water to make them smell good again,” offers Stella. Cindy points out, “We can’t use soap”.
We draw the emerging stories of the fuzzy stinky seeds.
This is the door that was left all the way open in our school. And then here’s the bee that stings the seed and turns it stinky, and then Stella’s mommy and daddy came and saved the seed.
This is the rocket ship.
The rocket ship just took the seeds and turned them stinky.
This is the duck that is holding the seeds in its feet to bring them back to us.
That’s the seed. That’s my cousin. He took it away to his house. He threw it in the garbage.
The seed was stinky when it was in a marker. They sleep in the marker. Then the bad guy took it in the grass, the seeds in the grass. So that it can grow. This is the grass, and this is the grass too.
That’s the bee and this is the door. The bee came through the door. Then the bee eats the seed and turns it stinky.
To decrease the stinkies and
the fuzzies, we decide to create
pouches with gifted fabric.
These pouches are to hold our seeds in”
“We need to put them in
a bag” – Louisa
Seeds & layers
Sewing seed pouches is a slow and delicate process. It requires attentiveness to match the edges of the fabric, to thread the needle, to puncture the two layers of the fabric and to avoid our fingers.
Cutting, pinning, holding,
“When I was sewing it kept not working. It didn’t work, so I needed to try again.” – Cindy
We discuss how caring for the seeds and sewing pouches for them require the same carefulness. The work requires time and dedication.
“This is hard.” – Georgina
“Sewing is slow.” – Cameron
Sewing is like up and down and up and down.” – Cameron
“Up and down, that means zig zags.” – Cindy
“It was getting tricky.” – Alex
The jackfruit we enjoy for lunch gives way to thinking about the variety of seeds. Emmanuel observes: “There’s a seed in a seed. We have to break them to find it”. Emmanuel removes a seed from the outer layer, noting “It feels like plastic.”
We speculate about the jackfruit’s big seed: the outer layers dry up and cracks appear which leads to the outer layer falling away or peeling off.
We draw the encased seeds:
“First you make a big circle and then
you draw a small circle in it” – Malik
“This is me and big seed” – Georgina
A Broken Seed
Emmanuel pulls four seeds from a pile and sets them aside noting:
“Those are not apple seeds…. I’m not sure what they are, but they are not apple seeds. They are broken”
Other children agree that these strange seeds are broken. We label a jar for the broken seeds.
The rituals of preservation slow down as we become curious about the broken seeds.
We story through drawing, how seeds become broken
Leon’s Broken Seed Story
Emmanuel’s Broken Seed Story
Stella’s Broken Seed Story
Nina’s Broken Seed Story
To think with the story in greater detail, educators invite children to think about the seed before it breaks. We create prologues to our stories.
We also think and draw about what happens with the seed after it breaks. We create epilogues to the stories.
Georgina’s Broken Seed Story
Malik’s Broken Seed Story
Edward’s Broken Seed Story
clay, we reinvent
the seeds stories
from the drawings.
We pay attention to the delicacy of the seeds alongside the delicacy of the clay. Through the process, other seeds emerge.
Through this inquiry, children attend to the centrality of seeds in life. Processes of preservation that require caring practices revitalize daily conversations. Yet, for us, these processes of preservation go beyond accumulation and treasure. Children work with the liveliness of seeds and their relations. Rather than conceiving seeds as resources to be preserved for future display and profit making, children pause to speculate through storytelling as they encounter the uncertainties that lively seeds bring to the encounters.
Even if at a micro scale, children engage with the ethos of vulnerability we are never in full control of the world.