Ideas for moving forward

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Melissa Hilsgen
Melissa Hilsgen's picture
Ideas for moving forward

Hi to all. I hope more members will become involved in the discussions here and I hope the outcome of the board election creates a stable group that works for the interests of the members. 

I would like to mention some ideas and comments I have about encouraging essential member participation in the group discussions. 

It would be helpful to know how members would like to interact with the group. Forums have their place, however I personally find them time consuming to be active in. One must consciously go to the forum website, log in, browse subjects.... go back browse again. I follow a number of blogs, newsletters, groups etc.  on the web and if I have to deliberately go to each one in turn to participate, I will probably not. An opt-in email list is a great participation tool. Once every couple of weeks, all the entries to the forum can be compiled into a thread-based newsletter  and emailed to members. I am a member of several Yahoo groups who use this format. It keeps me engaged, I can add to the discussion if I choose, I can delete the email easily if the topics don't relate to me, and I can go on with my day. The only problem I have with the Yahoo format is some groups send DAILY digests which is excessive. bi-Weekly would be sufficient. 

Members would have the choice to join such an update/newsletter list or not. 

I also have questions and suggestions about the Grassroots Facebook page. ( )How many members know of its existence? are we followers of the page? Facebook pages are very viral ways of engaging with member, followers, and the friends networks of followers. I noticed that the GSN Facebook page is rather stagnant. There ought to be a number of admins for it who can post relevant info and topics, ( staying within topic guidelines of course) to encourage participation. Some persons may have strong opinions about FB and other social networks, but it is a fact that 1.35 BILLION  people use it every month. That's a lot of people. That's hundreds of thousands of gardeners. Engagement, Member growth, free and sharable education and information, discussion and member posting and sharing are all easy and painless and sometimes viral on Facebook pages. I would encourage greater use of the GSN page for all these purposes.

Could we create a survey to send to members via email or paper, asking for feedback as to what they wish to get and give from GSN? I am sure for some it is simply a place to list seeds to share and obtain seeds. Others may be hoping for an active social group. The board needs to get in touch with other members to understand their expectaions and desires in order to do the most good. 

As a candidate for the board, I am aware that it is not just a position of opinion. Members of the Board must be interested in doing actual work and effort to advance the mission of the group. We need to be thinking of ideas and how to act on them, thinking about the membership and everyones needs and how to meet them, and about how to grow the GSN membership to be able to reach the  'critical mass' of stability. When sending in my ballot, one consideration for me was evaluation (based on a limited bio) of the ability of candidates to provide skill and work for the group and hopefully we can create a great Board able to devote time and energy to GSN. 

I look forward to further discussion about Heirlooms, 'pure' varieities, landraces and plant breeding. Lets remember that all plants were once wild, the world is not static, and even the best maintained Heirloom or open pollinated varieiy changes over time depending on its environment. As an example of diversity and unpredictability in even Heirlooms that are so-called stable, many years ago I grew Black Prince tomatoes from stock I picked up at a seed swap. I lost it one year. Since then I have been trying every Black Prince seed I can find. Nothing is quite like the original I had. Close, but not the same. The simple act of saving seeds in your own garden year after year, from plants that taste best to you, grow best for you, even germinate at all in your soil type, is subtly changing the genetic dominence of your variety. This is not to be feared, but encouraged. Of course, when I request seed from a member or seed company, I expect what I get to be true to its name and genetically stable. If not, it should be clearly labeled as such. perhaps so there is no confusion in the GSN listings, we should create a 'Landrace' category of plants, so breeders/developers/the adventurous can browse and request seeds accordingly. 

flowerweaver's picture
Facebook Page

Melissa, I just found out about the FB page. However, I see that it is set up as if it were a personal account. Shouldn't it be set up as an organization/business page where people can 'Like' it rather than 'Friend' it? In this way, GSN would show up as something people like, rather than as just another friend. When I make a new friend, I want to see what they 'Like', because I might like it, too. However, I rarely go through their 'Friends' list. I think it would also give GSN more publicity.

Melissa Hilsgen
Melissa Hilsgen's picture
I did notice that as well. A

I did notice that as well. A new page can be created for GSN, but unfortunately the current one cannot be converted. One problem I see with the personal page as it is is that a moderator must go through and "accept" all the friend requests. WHoever runs the page currently is not doing that so I imagine there is a backlog of friend requests, including mine, that are waiting. 


One advantage to a personal page is more exposure to friends. Facebook is making it increasingly harder for "pages" to interact with their followers unless they PAY to get their posts seen. I am trying to see what can be done about the GSN page so we can update it and use it as a networking tool for interaction and membership growth! 

As i hope everyone is aware

As i hope everyone is aware by now, CR's comment about purity was not intended to exclude breeder-lines, etc., but i think it's great that the misunderstanding has brought the issue up for clarification. Everyone, certainly including CR, agrees they should be included. The only issue is how to clearly identify them so no one can mistakenly request them and re-offer them under the original names. I've put forward a couple of ideas for that, but i think Melissa's suggestion may be the best of all: having a separate category for breeder lines. More workable, i think, would be a section of each plant category allocated to those; for example, following "Tomatoes/Whatever" would come "Tomato/Breeder Lines or something". Most plant categories (e.g. peas) would probably not have any of those, so it wouldn't get too unwieldy. It would be especially appropriate for "True Potato Seed" which Curzio and others offer.

Joseph Lofthouse
Joseph Lofthouse's picture
Promiscuously Pollinated Everything...

I am working on promiscusously pollinated everything... Something around 55 species. I watch like a hawk for hybrid beans and peas, or I make hybrids. So I grow a number of different segregating populations of beans and peas. If they aren't already segregating, then I might mix together 50 or a hundred varieties and grow them as a mix. That's a great way to encourage crossing even among the mostly-selfers. I don't even care if the components of a landrace are all of the same species... To me, agrinomically and culinarily a bean is a bean.

I purposefully select tomato flowers that are loose and open, and that shed pollen like a dust storm, and that are highly attractive to bumblebees. The primary selection criteria for tomatoes in my garden is "Very susceptible to promiscuous polliantion". Once I get a good handle on that, then I will start selecting for other traits.



I think Melissa's suggestions

I think Melissa's suggestions and Sage's response are wonderful ideas. I'm afraid i'm too much of a cyber-doofus to underdstand how to go about  or make use of this stuff, but i'm thrilled that we have (especially younger) members who "get it" as i absolutely do not. Although there is a limit to how much and what kind of business we can legitimately conduct before our first meeting, i personally endorse M's idea that we (she hopefully?) poll members to determine whether and how they prefer to be involved in these inter-discussions. We have in effect been using the e-mail string as a de facto Forum and i cannot deny that it has in some way been a more accessible format, although i would hate to see it replace the Forum unless/until it really does fulfill that purpose adequately. Her suggestion about periodic (weekly, or...) send-outs of whole collated strings sounds interesting, and it reminds me of an idea i had for including off-line members in the Forum: i had thought that Ashley might periodically send out a newsletter (probably added to the cost of basic membership?) containing a condensed version of all the last Forum buzz, since those members can send in e-postings to A. by snail-mail, but have no way of getting back input. Btw, i realise that most people have e-mail and those who do not can usually access it at a nearby library; however an admittedly small number of seed savers can not or will not avail themselves of that (Amish, Luddites seniors, etc.), and i am loath to exclude anyone from listing, requesting, or participating in discussions.