Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Fertility 2.0 - Black Rock City is a kind of Petri dish. Theme camps cling in fertile clusters to its latticework of streets, artworks tumble out of it, like pollen on the air. These nodes of interaction mutate, grow and reproduce their kind. Burning Man communities have now escaped this capsule world: our culture in a Petri dish has effloresced - it spreads across five continents. This year's art theme contemplates the tendency of any being or living system to create abundant life.

Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:08 pm

As an urban gardener with a passion for seed-saving and making gardening accessible to the masses, I was thinking of making some "seed bombs" to give as gifts. Essentially, a seed bomb is a small, biodegradable capsule (e.g. a ball of mud, or an empty medicine capsule) full of seeds, which can be planted in a garden or strewn about in fallow areas (e.g. vacant lots). A good seed capsule will contain the seeds of plants which require minimal or no care (will thrive on available rainwater) and yet are non-invasive (region-specific native wildflowers, for example).

As a Canadian, though, I want to be able to get across the border without undergoing a cavity search, and with my gifts intact. I'm making my way through the US Customs rules about which plants and plant materials can and cannot be imported from Canada, but the rules appear to be rather, uh, Byzantine, and they're distributed among a number of sites. Has anyone else tried this? Is there anyone here who can offer me some really good tips or a link with good information? Is this just a hopelessly ambitious idea?

Thanks...
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Eric » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:15 pm

Not hopeless, but it's going to take work for a couple of reasons, not just the seeds. The biggest concern I would have is how they're packaged to give away- unless they're put in something to keep them whole there's a big MOOP factor at play. Of course, the idea of packaging them takes away from the greatness of just being able to toss them somewhere.

Another factor is that a great plant for, say, Kansas, might be considered an invasive weed in California. You would have to do some research on plants that would be "non-site specific". I'm sure a gardener could help with that.

All that said, I love seed bombs, and have played with some here in SF someone I know made a few years ago. They were all SF Bay native species, so it was a great little project to play with.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby unjonharley » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:59 pm

]
Also the fact, this guy could be a copon a fishing trip.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby ygmir » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:30 pm

unjonharley wrote:]
Also the fact, this guy could be a copon a
fishing fisting trip.

I fixed it for ya UJH.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:18 am

Eric: Thanks for your insights. Yeah, location-specificness is a concern I had in mind. I'd definitely need to have a few different kinds of "bombs" to give to people according to where their home-away-from-BRC was. That kind of work is much less annoying to me than the border stuff. I really enjoy learning about botany and different ecosystems, and I'm pretty sure my friend Dr. Internet could help me out ( Dr. Internet knows so much... *swoon*). As for MOOPishness -- well, that's perhaps a more daunting concern... I need to think about a packaging solution that would resolve that issue without creating another.

And regarding for cops on fishing/fisting trips... unjonharley, are you casting aspersions on ME? I clutch my pearls in alarm, sir! (True story: My first, and only previous, BM trip involved a border services agent (this was before it was called "Homeland Security") who was on just such a trip when I crossed her path. I learned that I have no character whatsoever. 10 minutes of interrogation, and I was just about ready to confess to crimes I hadn't committed. Fortunately for me, another agent came along and told her to leave me alone.)
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby disco_duncan » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:51 am

As a keen gardener myself I love the idea of seed bombs. However, Burning Man has a large international population and seed bombs would become time bombs for these burners returning home. I grow bromeliads and attend conferences in the USA where I buy both plants and seeds. The regulations for importing both into the EEC and UK are a nightmare. Don't let this put you off the idea for native burners but it might be worth warning those from further afield.

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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby trilobyte » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:01 am

I'll second Eric's call for consideration given to packaging. If they end up getting scattered at BRC, and said little seeds are resilient enough to survive being blown around on the winds and eventually find some kind of purchase in the ground surrounding the black rock desert - that could be a bad thing. Future environmental studies (which measure the impact at the event site as well as the surrounding environs) would most definitely find it, and be considered leaving a trace.

Then, byzantine or no, you do need to adhere to the customs thing when it comes to a border crossing. You may want to consider purchasing whatever seeds you use after you arrive in the US. That way you're bringing empty containers across the border and have nothing potentially getting you stuck at customs, then pick up something you think works for your project in Reno. As you distribute your gift, you'd probably want to consider talking to potential recipients and consider not giving them to other international burners (as dtbee mentions, it could complicate customs when people pass through customs on their return flights).
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:31 am

Thanks, Trilobyte.

Hmmm.... yeah. The biggest challenge is going to be coming up with a package that seals tightly, won't blow away, isn't biodegradable (so if one does blow away, the seeds inside won't germinate), is reusable, and is nice enough to be worth reusing (because I don't want to be giving away something that will end up in landfills across America).

As for seeds, I'll only use native/non-noxious wildflowers and will package them according to region (probably four quadrants of the US). It might be hard to find a source for wildflowers from across the US in/close to Reno, though. I wonder if I can rent a mailbox there and have mail-ordered stuff sent to it?

Lots to think about. I appreciate your and Eric's wisdom.

Of course, all of this is just an enlightening exercise unless/until I end up with a ticket (and in enough time to get all this stuff together).
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Bob » Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:43 am

Unless it's food, tobacco or lumber, plant materials are prohibited at the event.

Just do something, nobody wants your stupid gifts.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:45 pm

Thanks, Bob -- although, technically, that prohibition applies to live plants, not seeds. And the seeds would NOT be for scattering or planting on the playa. But I get that the same principles are at play, and it's probably best not to bring them.

Maybe the seed thing won't work. Maybe it's not appropriate for the playa. But I don't think gifts are necessarily stupid, if they are self-expressive and the recipients are chosen carefully. As a gardener with a real interest in native plants, this would have been a self-expressive gift.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:49 pm

Duncan: I missed your post above, but I appreciate your encouragement and warning. Thanks :)
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:45 pm

Seed paper? In an envelope?
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Bob » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:39 pm

Granted, the "no live plants" web page is poorly written, but it makes mention of materials that aren't "live plants" in the strict sense. The intent is to warn attendees about the impact of bringing material that might create a specific trash problem, that also might raise red flags with the BLM from an environmental standpoint. The policy came about in the wake of a number of artists and theme camps using plant materials that shed twigs, bark, leaves, soil and other growing media, that took an insane amount of time for DPW to clean up after the ticket holders who brought the material did only a cursory cleanup and left the playa. Some of these projects were large, some relatively small.

Unfortunately, Burning Man has the institutional memory of a swarm of gnats, and mistakes are often repeated. To the extent that a bbs discussion of "seed bombs" might put incredibly stupid ideas in other people's heads somewhere down the road, however meritoriously conceived your live plant propagation project might be, please forgive my humble concerns over the blithe hand-wave others might give it.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:58 am

Thank-you Bob and Cryptofishist.

Bob, you have given me some food for thought. I appreciate your honest response (my initial reaction to it was a bit thin-skinned). I do get why plant materials on the playa are a cause for concern, even more than other MOOPish things, but you've convinced me that they're more problematic than I had imagined. I'm not sure that I'm [i]entirely[i] ready to abandon the idea just yet -- but between you, Eric, trilobyte, and Duncan, I've certainly got a lot of reasons to be extra-cautious and not do it unless I'm sure I can do it right, which I'm not yet. I really appreciate all of you for sharing your ideas and concerns.

Cryptofishist: I love seed paper! I had also thought of envelopes as a container, but I had decided against the them because they can blow away and then will break down when they encounter moisture, allowing the seeds to germinate where they land (I had also thought of zippered plastic bags, but I decided they're still to blow-away-able and too MOOPish).

I think a proper container would be a little tin, something reusable and buyable in bulk (like this: http://www.containerandpackaging.com/item/M515), with seed bombs inside, sealed with tape and labeled with instructions (including what region would be appropriate for planting those seeds). BUT.... even with the precaution of a solid container, there's risk. Someone could empty the tin to use for something else, and then lose/loose the seed bombs on the playa. Like I said, if I decide to do it, there are plenty of reasons for caution, and it's possible that I won't be able to get the risk down enough to make the project worth doing.

I probably already know the right answer. I'm just not quite ready to say goodbye to the idea yet. :(
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby mudpuppy000 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:38 am

There are all sorts of issues in the desert with invasive plant species choking out the native plants or increasing the wildfire danger. All those plants sounded like a good idea at the time too...
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Drawingablank » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:52 am

Much as I love this idea - I don't think its a good thing to bring to BRC.

Many people don't read instructions (or would read them after opening to figure it out) and are also curious.

Altered people are extremely unlikely to read instructions and possibly be unable to understand them if they did. I have this vision of these tins being popped open to see what kind of party favors are inside. Seeds being what they are and strong winds being so common - I just see this as ending in disaster.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:28 am

mudpuppy000 wrote:There are all sorts of issues in the desert with invasive plant species choking out the native plants or increasing the wildfire danger. All those plants sounded like a good idea at the time too...

Not all. Some where hitchhikers.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:37 pm

catinthefunnyhat wrote:... without undergoing a cavity search, and with my gifts intact. ...
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:03 pm

Thanks, everyone, for your constructive and supportive criticism. I think it's settled: I won't be bringing seeds to the playa, because I can't guarantee that they'll be a "safe" gift.

I think Bob is right. I won't bring any "thing" specifically to gift; I'll just look for opportunities to participate and give of myself. Hopefully I have something to offer (said with a lump in my throat -- this may be safer for the environment, but it's much scarier for me).
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby lemur » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:13 pm

gifts arent ice breakers.


catinthefunnyhat wrote:Hopefully I have something to offer (said with a lump in my throat -- this may be safer for the environment, but it's much scarier for me).
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:46 pm

lemur: You're right; they're not! But I think giving unique gifts to people you connect with can make one (well, me) feel more of a participant, less of a spectator. Maybe that doesn't make any sense. o_O

(Apologies for getting all weird and maudlin. I'll stop now :oops: ).
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby mudpuppy000 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:03 pm

Sort of off topic, but there is the more carrot camp which runs the black rock farmers market. Maybe that would be a good fit? :)
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Mojojita » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:06 pm

You already have valuable knowledge to share as a gift - if you see anyone in danger of spreading MOOP, you can help educate. We have a lot of first timers coming this year and every kernel of wisdom about keeping the playa from harm is sorely needed. Read up and be one of the valuable "stealth virgins" - they are the ones who really "get it", even though they have never been before.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby some seeing eye » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:14 pm

There are various on playa lecture camps (I don't know which for this year) that might benefit from an inspirational talk on permaculture, native plants, medicinal plants or the problems of invasive species. Even for an obscure topic, anyone who comes will be interested. There is a deadline for the What Where When, a list of events with times, a good publicity vehicle.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:54 pm

I think I am coming to a epiphany regarding the gift economy. It's not that you are required to give at Burning Man. But if you have something to share, give it away, don't sell it.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby mudpuppy000 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:49 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:
mudpuppy000 wrote:There are all sorts of issues in the desert with invasive plant species choking out the native plants or increasing the wildfire danger. All those plants sounded like a good idea at the time too...

Not all. Some where hitchhikers.


True, I would imagine most of them were hitchhikers. The one I had in mind was the tamarisk tree that people would plant out in the desert because it was the only thing that would grow. Turns out it grows too well and chokes off all the other desert trees which animals depend on among other nasty things.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:11 pm

Perhaps the most famous desert invasive is that quintessential American perennial (figurative.y, I'm not sure about literally) cowboy movie favorite tumbleweed. It's beyond my imagination why someone would want it...
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Canoe » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:54 pm

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/prohibited_restricted.xml#PlantsandSeeds
Department of Homeland Security > Customs and Border Protection > Travel > Prohibited and Restricted Items (05/20/2011)
Plants and Seeds
Some plants, cuttings, seeds that are capable of propagation, unprocessed plant products and certain endangered species are allowed into the United States but require import permits and other documents; some are prohibited entirely. Threatened or endangered species that are permitted must have export permits from the country of origin.
Every single plant or plant product including handicraft items made with straw, must be declared to the CBP officer and must be presented for CBP inspection, no matter how free of pests it appears to be. For information on importing plants or plant products visit the Plant, Organism and Soil Permits page.
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby Bob » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:54 am

FWIW, the BLM does its own seed bombing on wildfire-affected areas, albeit on a larger scale.

Image

Image
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Re: Fertility gift: Seed bombs?

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:00 am

Well, they are probably able to come up with a seed mix very close to the original flora pretty quickly.
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