WILD KITCHEN & APOTHECARY — Seeds for Future Generations

Recently I was invited to give several herbal demos during a weeklong seed sovereignty conference in Acoma, New Mexico. I am so grateful to have been given this experience. It gave me the opportunity to step outside of myself and view seed and food sovereignty through a different lens. 

I was reminded that the movie Seed reported that in the United States we have lost more than 90 percent of our seed diversity in the past 100 years. That statistic was published in a 1983 Rural Advancement Foundation International study that compared the number of commercially available fruit and vegetable varieties in 1903 to the number of related varieties found in the National Seed Storage Lab in 1983 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The seed storage lab, a “gene bank”, was built in 1958 to preserve seeds and information about their provenance and about the plant characteristics the seeds produce.

The native corn seeds displayed on the table were offered in swap for seeds brought by those who attended a seed exchange conference held in Acoma, Ariz. Photo Angela Kingsawan

The organizer of the Acoma conference brought seeds that stopped me in my tracks. She was given a collection of seeds by the family of a Native American elder who had passed. She said that his family found seeds stashed away throughout his house. Some seeds were found in old butter containers or in jars. All of the seeds they found were rare and hadn’t been grown for generations. Some of the varieties were thought to have gone extinct.

Conference attendees were invited to participate in a seed exchange and were invited to be stewards of the seeds. As held I the seeds, I knew I was holding history in my hands and I was truly humbled. But the reality of what has happened to heritage seeds came flooding into my heart.  In North America and all over the world, we have lost plant species through hybridization and hyperdevelopment of land.

As I stood in awe taking in that display of seeds, my three-year-old daughter Elena dove right in! She was so happy and touched everything. All I could do was laugh and follow her lead. I observed what she was drawn, to and those were the seeds we chose to take home. 

I shared some of the corn varieties that I grow — Guarijillo Blue, Oaxacan Green Dent, Tarahumara Cacareno, Mountain Pima Maize Azul, Ho Chunk Red — and an assortment of my herb seeds.

Herbs provide us with so much. They can heal physical, emotional, and spiritual ailments. Herbs can be used to flavor our food, as medicine, for body care, and as cleaning products.

It is important that all of us realize the value of what is growing around us before it is too late. It’s also important to recognize that not only Native American seeds are endangered. Seeds from all cultures and all corners of the world need to be saved and protected. I encourage seed saving and sharing of seeds wherever I go, but it has to start at home. Listen to what speaks to you, regardless of the culture it originates from. Pick out one plant and commit yourself to growing and saving its seed from year to year. If we all do this, we can ensure a future filled with diversity and abundance.

It was heartwarming to see the different experience of participants, some who have grown gardens for many years, some who were new growers, and some, who, because of this conference, were inspired to begin planting for the first time. 

Even though we all came from different parts of the country, our hearts were very much the same. Sometimes we just need a little prompting to take action.

Flo and Leland Vallo made the ceramic seed pot that Angela Kingsawan displays in her hand. She is also holding Ho Chunk red corn seed, white ceremonial Acoma corn seed, and Mohawk yellow and red corn seed. Santana Phillips designed the seed container. He and Flo and Leland Vallo are members of the Acoma Pueblo in Acoma, Ariz. Photo Angela Kingsawan

Native Americans see plants as our relatives and our plant relatives reach out to us. Plants are here to nourish and heal us on a deep and meaningful level.  We, in return, are required to be responsible stewards of our environment to protect the plants.. We can fulfill that responsibility in a number of ways.

You don’t have to be an active gardener to save seeds. If you come across rare and beautiful plants, save their seeds. Or, you buy non-GMO open pollinated seeds, especially heirloom and heritage varieties, accept seeds from someone else, or gather seeds from nature. 

Once you have your chosen seeds, make sure they are completely dried before storing. Any moisture on or in the seed will cause them to mold and they will lose their viability. Store them in a clean and dry container. Synthetic materials don’t provide the moisture and temperature control necessary for long term seed storage, so I prefer glass or ceramic containers. Always label your jar with the name of the seed and the date which it was stored. This will be helpful later, just in case you forget.

If seeds are stored properly, they can last successfully for many years. There have been seeds found in ceramic vessels at archaeological sites that were still viable after 1,500 years.

Please realize that by saving seeds we all have the power to make a positive impact for our future generations.   

More seed saving advice:

Angela Kingsawan is the herbalist and garden coordinator at Core El Centro, a wholistic healing center. For information; core-elcentro.org

Articles by Trowbridge students

Kids in school lab Introduction
By Laura Schultz, Grade 8

Last school year, Trowbridge School began an emphasis on water studies. It started when teachers, parents, and community members got together before the school year began. They looked at the needs of our neighborhood. They realized that Lake Michigan was our biggest neighbor by far. They also had the vision that the students would benefit from intensive study about Lake Michigan, the Great Lakes, and water studies in general. We found community partners that would assist us in learning more about water. As the year continued several teachers took classes at UWM so they would have current knowledge about the impact of pollutants and toxins found in lakes. Our eighth grade class then conducted experiments about the effect of lead on fish. Each classroom participated in learning about water studies through guest speakers, field trips, and experiments.

Lamprey mouth Aliens in the lake
By Michael Dean, Grade 8

There have been alien sightings near the lake. I repeat, there have been alien sightings by the lake.

An alien species known as the sea lamprey has moved to the lake and called it home. The sea lamprey is a parasitic eel-like animal that migrated to the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal system, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In 1936, they were first seen in Lake Michigan. By the 1950s they pretty much eliminated the lake trout and also reduced populations of other species. A lot of effort had to be put into restocking the lake with fish.

The sea lampreys are attacking and killing fish in Lake Michigan. Fish are the main target for these nasty little creatures. They attach on the outside of the fish and live on them while they die. Multiple sea lampreys can live on a fish, lowering its life expectancy more.

Some ways to control the population of these nasty creatures are to use chemicals called a “lampricide,” build barriers in streams to keep the lampreys out, and also a program to reduce spawning. Using these methods has sort of brought the sea lamprey population under control. However, they can still be a threat to a well-balanced aquatic system due to the chemicals in the lampricide. So, I think you can see that we do still need to watch out for these aliens in the lake.

Lots of trash Cooperative learning
By Michael Dean, Grade 8

When do a third grader and a seventh grader have something in common? When a seventh grader becomes a mentor to the third grader about water studies. And that’s exactly what happened at Trowbridge. Last spring two classrooms worked together to clean up the beach at South Shore. Besides a great community service project, the seventh graders got a chance to teach the younger kids about types of pollution that are found on our beaches.

Lead poisoning
By Michael Dean, Grade 8

Recent studies have shown that there is more and more lead everywhere. It’s in your house, your toys, and even your drinking water.

That’s right, I said your water. Recent studies have shown that trace amounts have been in water. The lead can get into your water if you have a real old house with lead pipes. It may be a small amount but it can still be deadly.

Most lead poisoning happens to small children. Old houses with old paint can be the cause, especially if children or pets eat the paint chips. If it gets into your system it will be toxic. It will make you sick and even death may or may not follow.

Be aware it can also affect your pets. If your pets get lead in their system they may become sick or die as well. If you suspect that you have been exposed to lead, call your doctor so that he or she can help you so that said symptoms don’t get worse. Also, remember that the effects of lead poisoning may be irreversible.

Mussels among Lake Michigan’s problems
By Joseph Turczyn, Grade 8

Lake Michigan has a lot of problems. Invasive species are disrupting the food chain. Zebra mussels are one of the more commonly known ones.

Ships need to balance out the weight of the cargo and the rest of the ship. They do this by filling the bottom part of the ship with water. Oceangoing ships coming into the Great Lakes are believed to be the cause of the zebra mussel invasion. These ships unknowingly brought them here when they released their ballast water into the lake.

The zebra mussel was first seen in Lake St. Clair in 1988. Lake St. Clair connects Lake Huron and Lake Erie and this is how they made it into the Great Lakes system.

One zebra mussel can have from 30,000 to 40,000 babies in one year. Zebra mussels are filter feeders. One adult zebra mussel can filter a quart of water per day. If you multiply this by millions, problems happen because the animals and algae that the zebra mussels eat are also food for larval fish and other native species. So this disrupts the food chain for native fish, mollusks, and birds. This is real bad for other species of lake animals. I think we should all be concerned about the rising population of zebra mussels in Lake Michigan.

Kids look at sand Second graders study the shoreline
By Ricardo Rosales, Grade 3

When I went to the beach with my class, we used magnifying glasses to look at the sand. We also used magnets to get the magnetite out of the sand. We worked with partners and we sifted the sand so we could see the different sizes of the particles. Some were big chunks and others were very fine sand.

Water and cancer risk reduction

By Nadeen Dais, Grade 8

As we studied about the importance of water, we also learned that water is extremely important for health.

Here are some tips about drinking water.

Water can reduce the risk for cancer. According to “Water UK-Wise Up On Water” some studies indicate that drinking a lot of water may reduce the three major types of cancer: prostate cancer, breast cancer, and large bowel cancer. However, it is also believed that more studies need to be done in order to find conclusive evidence.

But, no matter what, scientists all agree that for a healthy life, you have to be hydrated in order to function well. Thousands of people are diagnosed with those three cancers every year. Most of them cause death without the right treatment. Now, I don’t think anyone wants to have cancer in this world. In order to reduce your risk for cancer, you could follow these steps every day:

  1. On a hot day drink lots of water.
  2. Start your day by drinking a tall glass of water.
  3. If you are not used to drinking lots of water, start little by little till you can drink a lot of water at once.
  4. Drink water before each meal and after, too.
  5. Carry a bottle with tap water everywhere you go.

If you follow these tips I’m sure you will become healthier day by day.

Also, the American Cancer Society website states that “Drinking water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer, as water dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and shortens the amount of time they are in contact with the bladder lining.” Eight glasses of water a day is recommended, and maybe even more.

Some new studies seem to indicate that eight glasses of water show no increased health benefits. However, I know that I feel better when I drink a lot of water and I think that you will too.

What’s happening to our lake
By William Serrano, Grade 8

The lakes are contaminated and we know it. We just aren’t willing to use the knowledge we have about it. The toxins in the lakes are hurting our physical health.

You know that strange smell by the lake? One cause is dead fish. One other cause is Cladophora algae, which grows super fast in clear water.

Lake Michigan has been becoming more and more clear because of the filtering of the water by the zebra mussels. This allows more light to get deeper and creates an explosion of Cladophora algae, which love the light.

Also, people can get sick from eating fish that have too many toxins in their flesh.

I think a lot of people have no idea what is going on with the lakes. They better figure it out soon because the lakes are horrible. Do you want your kids swimming in Lake Michigan? I don’t want to swim in Lake Michigan. Matter of a fact, I don’t think the kids at Trowbridge want to swim in Lake Michigan.

I hope the information that I gave you helps your understanding of some problems with the Great Lakes. Let’s do something to make the Great Lakes GREAT again.

Trowbridge School of Great Lakes Studies is a participant in the Bay View Compass Community Partnership Program, which fosters the education and talents of young people interested in the arts of journalism, writing, editing, photography, and design. Thank you to coordinators Jane Wisniewski and Karen Workman.

Across the Line

I remember the day perfectly. I had just come home from a quick morning sail on the Gulf of Mexico. On my yellow Laser Radial, I had sailed from Fort Meyers Beach over to the bridge that goes across to Sanibel Island. My 15-year-old body handled the seven-knot winds easily. The sky was a bright blue and the sunshine beat down on my tan arms and legs. My wet and salty shoulder-length brown hair cooled my head in the heat. I even saw a few dolphins swimming under the bridge. It was the perfect day.

Once I stepped inside, my father called me over to his worktable in the garage.

“Hi, Dad! What’s up?” I asked.

“I’ve got some exciting news, Lizzie,” he replied. “I’ve decided to enter a race from Fort Meyers to Auckland.”

“Dad, Auckland is in New Zealand.”

“I know. The race starts next June. I have 11 months to prepare.”

That was 10 months, three weeks, and four days ago. I’m not going to lie, for the first nine months I was extremely excited. Sailing was life for my dad and me. This race was a dream come true. I was so thrilled to see my dad do something this great.

But as soon as month 10 came around, I got a little nervous. We had just started packing up the boat, when I found the life raft.

“Hey, Dad, what is this?” I asked cautiously as I came across the box-like package.

“That would be a life raft. Right now it is in its dormant shape, but once I pull that yellow string on the side, it will inflate to be a little raft,” he answered.

“Are you going to need it?”

“Maybe. As I get south of Cape Town, the weather gets cold and the winds get rough. Accidents always seem to happen there,” he said nonchalantly. “Let’s go to lunch,” he added as he got off the boat.

I just stood there. I had never thought about how dangerous this could be. A vision of my dad floating in the middle of the ocean on a pool raft ran across my mind. Suddenly I didn’t want him to go. I had climbed up the ladder and onto the foredeck. The sun was shining so brightly that I had to shield my eyes. I remember imagining my dad having to do the same thing before a huge rogue wave swept over his beautiful boat. The thought of it made me shudder.

My dad leaves two days from now. Since that day with the life raft, I haven’t been helping as much. He had to recruit my brother Brian and my mom to help. I feel bad, but I just can’t stand the thought of him not crossing that finish line.

As I lie in bed, I think about the dangers he will face. Even if he wears a lifejacket and has the best safety equipment in the world, he could still get hurt or lost. I have been sailing my whole life, and even on 12-foot boats I have gotten hurt. Once last summer I hit my head and got a concussion. How is my dad going to handle a 50-foot boat by himself? There will be no one out there to save him.

When morning comes, I am the first one up. I check the weather, a habit I developed over sailing season, and decide to go for a quick sail. I write a short note telling my mom where I will be. As I ride my bike down to the docks, I suddenly realize how beautiful it is outside. The sun has just risen, leaving streaks of pink along the blue sky. Seagulls and pelicans fly through the air like they have never flown before, and as if the only thing left in this world is to fly. The water is calm and quiet, but once every few seconds the breeze picks up and little ripples form on the surface. I think of my dad and how he would wake up to the same sunrise halfway around the world. While I rig my Laser, I realize something. My dad has been sailing for over 30 years. He knows the wind and his boat like the back of his hand. The knowledge he has and the technology of his boat will keep him safe.

I know it sounds stupid, but as I sail I pretend that I am my dad. I imagine that I am racing his race, and that my little yellow Laser is his magnificent sailboat. I hike the boat flat like I never have before, trim like I am actually in a race. The back of my yellow lifejacket skims the waves as I hike parallel to the water. My blue board shorts slide down and reveal part of my pink bikini as I continue the lean out and hike. I use a set of shallow water markers as my finish line and a biker in the distant sidewalk across the channel as my competitor. I pretend that the brown pelicans on the beach in front of me are my family, and all I have to do to be with them is cross that finish line. I zone in and slowly begin pulling ahead of the biker. I sail between the two markers and head home.

Now I am at the docks with my dad. The gun goes off in one hour. We check and re-check everything on the entire boat. We run the lines and make sure nothing is twisted or frayed. Everything has to be in its exact place. My dad needs to be able to find something in a blink of an eye, maybe faster. I am still nervous about seeing him go, but after my sail yesterday something inside me knows everything will be all right. I still won’t go near the life raft, though. I’ve read stories about people having to use them and it scares me. I know how vicious the winds near Cape Town can be.

It’s 25 minutes until the gun goes off. Time for my dad to leave. He unties the bow line, stern line, and the spring line. All of his sponsors are here, giving him care packages filled with fun things to do during calm days. Before his boat even leaves the dock, my dad hands me an envelope.

“Don’t open this until I cross the starting line,” he says, “and don’t lose it either. You’ll need it when I finish.”

I can’t speak because I know that if I open my mouth I will start bawling. I nod my head, smile, and push the boat off the dock.

One minute until the gun goes off. My family and I are on a spectator boat, watching the five opponents battle for the best spots on the line. The sun is out; the wind is good and steady. My dad’s boat is flying, clearly the fastest boat out there. Her snow-white hull shines in the glistening sunlight. As my dad sails past, I see the biggest grin planted on his face. He is having the time of his life. In the background I hear a loudspeaker announcing the action to the watchers on land.

Thirty seconds until the gun goes off. My dad sails around the pin end and starts heading back toward the race committee boat. I see exactly what he is doing, and what I predict is true. A perfect hole in the line opens up, big enough only for him. He moves in and luffs, wasting time and protecting his spot. I laugh out loud because it is so perfect.

Ten seconds. The line gets crowded.

Five seconds. I laugh again because my dad is building up speed.

Four seconds. Three. Two. One. BANG.

The gun goes off and Dad is already a boat-length ahead of everyone else. I can already tell that this race will be a good one. As I watch him sail away, I remember the envelope. I open it and look inside. Inside are three plane tickets to Auckland, secured together with a paper clip. There is no date on them, so I can only assume that they are for the finish. I turn and watch the sail of my dad’s boat disappear on the horizon, and I know that I will be there waiting for him when he sails across that line.

“Across the Line,” a work of fiction, won first place in the 2007 May Murphy Thibaudeau Writing Competition. Thibaudeau, formerly of South Milwaukee, was a writer honored at local and state levels. Her books, including a biography of Frederick Layton, are available in the St. Thomas More High School and local libraries. She began writing after her retirement from teaching. She taught 36 years, 20 of which were at St. Mary’s in South Milwaukee. Her daughter and son-in-law, Clairese and Gregg Huennekens, sponsor the annual writing contest at St. Thomas More in her honor.

Note from the writer: I got my inspiration for my short story “Across the Line” from my friend from sailing. We sail together at South Shore Yacht Club. Her dad raced around the world alone in a sailboat, and I thought that the whole idea of making such a voyage was amazing. I spend most of my summer sailing, so I thought that a nautical theme would be the best for my story.

St. Thomas More High School is a participant in the Bay View Compass Community Partnership Program, which fosters the education and talents of young people interested in the arts of journalism, writing, editing, photography, and design. Thanks to coordinators Vicki Nast and Mary Powalisz.

St. Lucas Roundtable Theater

(Photo by Rosie Jankiewicz)Almost half the fifth through eighth grade students of St. Lucas participated in Romeo & Juliet as actors, backstage crew, or event hosts. The St. Lucas Roundtable exists to introduce students to theater, to appreciate the beautiful language of Shakespeare and other playwrights, to grow in confidence in public speaking, and to challenge each student to grow academically, socially, and spiritually. Next year’s show will be William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13-14 at 6:30pm.

The content on this page was created by students at St. Lucas Evangelical Lutheran School, 648 E. Dover St. This school is a participant in the Bay View Compass Community Partnership Program, which fosters the education and talents of young people interested in the arts of journalism, writing, editing, photography, and design. Thank you to Mr. Bart Gurgel, who coordinated the students’ participation. All photos courtesy St. Lucas.

Click image to enlarge.

(Photo by Rosie Jankiewicz)

The Process Involves Practice

William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet was definitely an experience that will help me throughout my life. The first day we gathered in a classroom, went over the expectations and schedule, and then decided whether or not to commit to the play. For the first two weeks we watched a movie version of the play and listened to a CD of Shakespearean actors to better understand the characters and the play. Once we were done with the movie and CD, we had auditions. Then we decided what we would cut from Romeo & Juliet because we were trying to keep the show around two hours.

We got straight to memorizing our parts. For four weeks we practiced a third of the play every night. Sometimes when we were practicing, we had to cut more of the play because it was still too long. Finally we were ready. We were really nervous, but it was successful for a grade school play.
Midthun played Friar Lawrence.

Much More Than Just What’s on Stage

(Photo by Samantha Miller)Playing a role in my school’s production of Romeo & Juliet was a lot of fun. It brought a lot of new experiences, such as watching theater develop in our classroom. We had a stage in the middle of the classroom. The stage was definitely different and interesting. Mr. Gurgel, our teacher, was a foot taller! We had to really look up at him.

At first, the stage was merely a wooden platform. Then, slowly but surely it evolved into a stage. The stage crew added pillars and flats (scenery), then lights. Eventually, our classroom looked like a genuine theater. Each night before the show, students took the classroom desks out and carried in our “theater seating.”

As part of an eighth grade service group, I took part in baking treats for the intermission of the production. It took a fair amount of planning before we actually started baking. We had to figure out our menu, ingredients, and cost. Ten eighth grade students stayed after school the day before the first show and baked. While baking we learned how to be efficient and the importance of leaving the kitchen cleaner then we found it.

The night of the performance we set up the tables and treats in the library where they would be served. It was extremely rewarding to watch people enjoy something we created.

Reyes was a service committee member and part of the backstage crew.

All the Classroom’s a Stage

(Photo by Rosie Jankiewicz)Have you ever heard the saying “All the world’s a stage”?

Well, the eighth grade class sure did as we transformed our classroom into a stage for the St. Lucas Roundtable’s production of Romeo & Juliet last fall. The stage took a week to construct but the preparation for the actual production took about three months.

Along the way, many of us learned new aspects about the world of acting, including blocking (stage directions) and auditions. Playing Juliet was a lot of work but also really fun because I got to hang out with my friends after school and began to know other students better.

At first, acting was awkward because you weren’t used to talking to people your age like they were your parents or yelling at them when the script demanded it. Even acting like I was married was a little weird. Eventually, the whole cast became a family. If you needed help practicing your scenes, you could comfortably ask anyone from the cast.

Sometimes we even had to step into other parts. For one of the performances, I was asked to step in for a few scenes for the other Juliet who had been sick. That probably threw the audience for a loop, but also showed that we were comfortable enough to ask each other when we needed help.

Sure, not all the parts of the play went as smoothly as we would’ve liked. For instance, once we couldn’t find Romeo’s ring that Juliet’s nurse was supposed to give Juliet. Sometimes actors forgot their lines or said the wrong line in the wrong scenes. However, we learned to improvise if something went wrong. We also learned how much work really goes into plays, movies, and musicals. I know I will never look at such performances in same way again.

LeRay played Juliet Capulet.

Click images to enlarge.

(Photo by Rosie Jankiewicz)

(Photo by Rosie Jankiewicz)