It's amazing how food brings people of all cultures together. On Wednesday, my friend Miriam and I sat in an Amish barn in Bird-in-Hand, PA along with about 100 others (mostly Amish and plain people) to hear about extracting and preserving seeds with the most nutrients right from your garden vegetables...for planting next spring. If you're interested in coming to the next meeting, which they call "Ladies' Day," then mark your calendar for January 13, 2010 (10am-3pm). There is usually a paper posted on the door of Miller's Natural Foods inviting anyone who's interested. I'm understanding and appreciating Amish culture so much through these meetings centered on health and wellness. Our common interest in food as a prevention and cure of many diseases keeps us learning from one another. The setting was in an old barn with cobwebs and hay piled high, small Amish children toddling around and babies nursing as needed, people sitting closely and quietly on benches, with the wide open barn door revealing cows grazing on a sunny clear day. Everyone brought a food to share along with the recipe to set beside the food. It's always a healthy feast. There were quite a few men at this recent "Ladies' Day." So, they don't discriminate. Ha! The topic brought more men (farmers) this time. One thing I learned about corn and bean seeds is that it's best to leave a few ears of sweet corn and pods of beans on the vine for a few weeks past ripe picking time. Then pick them, open them up, and let them dry in a dry place for a couple weeks. When you see a little "black layer" spot form on the seed, then all the nutrients are sealed inside and it's good for planting. I just noticed this tiny black spot on our dried soybeans (which are now seeds) from our garden. If we don't pick off all our produce, it is likely that the plants will naturally drop their own seeds onto the ground which may just self-plant for spring. But most people like to determine more predictability by re-planting by hand. An interesting side note, is that last year, we had some decorative "Indian corn" on the cob in our house and a kernel of corn fell off onto a wet area on the ledge of our kitchen sink and eventually sprouted right there on the counter top. It's amazing how much stored energy is inside a seed! Gotta go pick up my daughter from preschool.... have a fun day!!!