Will Farmer’s 2018 GWC Seed Exchange
by Don Strickland, Vice President
“Sharing seeds, knowledge, and tricks of the trade” - that’s how longtime club member Will Farmer describes the GWC Annual Seed Exchange slated for the January 16th meeting. For those who attend, all this comes with the wintertime expectation that something marvelous will happen in the spring. Best of all, the plants and seeds are free.
An outgrowth of seed swaps first done for TAGaH (Triangle Area Gardeners & Homesteaders), GWC’s annual event began in 2014 and continues to be one of the most popular activities on the yearly club calendar.
Farmer is quick to point out that saving and trading seeds is nothing new. “It’s as old as agriculture itself,” he says. “Plant ovules and nuts have been found in many prehistoric site excavations and even in the Egyptian pyramids.”
Will started developing his green thumb at an early age. At first, he just helped with his father’s garden, but, by age 15, he was working his own patch - and canning much of the produce (Will and wife Donna still pre-serve the results of their home plot, putting up about 200 jars each summer).
The irony of a gardener being named “Farmer” is not lost on the seed exchange organizer. “Everybody laughs about that.” he confesses. “Even me.” Somewhat reminiscent of the Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue, Will says “I guess I have to blame my Dad for hanging that moniker on me.”
From 1956 until retirement in 1995, cultivation took a back seat to aerospace engineering for Mr. Farmer. He designed aircraft crew stations for industry giants McDonnell-Douglas, Boeing, Lockheed, and Learjet. “I did take a detour in 1960 and 1961,” says Will, “when I went to Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the Saturn Booster Engine Design Group for NASA.”
Farmer claims he’s done his best work after retiring: “Among other projects, I designed and built fixed wing and helicopter flight simulators and a space station module for the Mesa, Arizona, public schools and to date about 100-thousand fifth graders have flown in those simulators.”
Will’s agenda for January 16th includes a brief demonstration of tomato seed saving, a calabaza squash discussion, and a cut and share. “I plan to distribute mini-greenhouse samples and seed starter pots, he says, “and hopefully that’ll inspire folks to save rotisserie chicken containers because they make great little seed incubators.” January’s meeting also marks a pivotal juncture in GWC’s seed exchange program because Will Farmer is looking to pass the baton. “I’m 82 now and not in the best of health,” he declares. “2018 would be a great time for younger GWC members to step up and share the responsibility of organizing this event and keeping the tradition going.”
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Visitors are always welcome at The Gardeners of Wake County meeting held every third Tuesday of the month at J.C. Raulston Arboretum. Refreshments are available at 7:00 PM so members and visitors can socialize before the 7:30 PM start of the meeting. Each meeting starts with a short business session followed by a horticulture related program. Plants are brought by members and given away as prizes. Click on "Programs" at the top of this page to see a list of the programs scheduled for 2017.
John Motley has been growing Basil, Garlic, and Asparagus for years.
Learn more about growing Basil, Garlic, and Asparagus or make your own applesauce and Pesto.
The Gardeners of Wake County meets every third Tuesday at 7:30 pm in the Ruby McSwain building at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum on Beryl Road in Raleigh. Refreshments are available at 7:00 PM and members and visitors can socialize at 7:00 pm before the start of the meeting. Each meeting starts with a short business session followed by a horticulture related program. Plants are brought by members and given away as prizes. Visitors are always welcome.
The J.C. Raulston Arboretum is located at 4415 Beryl Rd. which is on the South side of the railroad tracks and parallel with Hillsborough Street just east of the State Fair. Visitors are always welcome. Click here for map or directions.
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