the beautiful necessity of seed saving

All the elements were there, perfectly combined, for a winter seed cleaning day to remember. Four women, warm sun at the edge of a beautiful garden, and a bumper crop of Dark Star zucchini. Five wheelbarrow loads of giant hard-shelled zukes piled beside us. We used various methods to break the squash open – shovel, hatchet, and slamming them against the ground – and sat scooping seeds into a big tub of water while we visited. The activity clicked us directly into the lineage of seed-saving ancestors. We felt the tribal continuity, the beautiful necessity, the vibrant life force contained in the seeds. It was so much fun.


Lauren grew a 20-foot bed and managed to keep her housemates and guests from harvesting more than a few as summer squash. She’d grown Dark Star when she sold produce at the Willits Farmers Market in past years, so she already loved and appreciated the plant. She’d even been to Eel River Farms in Humboldt County and seen how Bill Reynolds developed the variety there. Dark Star keeps growing through light frosts, and handles heat and drought better than other zucchinis too. Reynolds selected ruthlessly as he dry-farmed them on his floodplain land, so these plants have a serious root system.

When we had all the seeds in the water, we strained them through colanders, poured them out onto old towels laid on a table in the sun, wrapped them up, and rubbed and rolled them. Then we transferred the clean seeds to screens indoors to dry. If you order Dark Star Zucchini from Laughing Frog this year, these are the seeds you will receive.