This month in Ag in the Classroom, older students learned about the “Doomsday Vault” in Norway, and other seed vaults across the world. There are more than 1,700 seed vaults globally. These vaults house seeds and plant materials to be used in case of crop failure. Weather, disease, and man-made events can devastate a region’s crops. In some instances, there may not be seeds to replant for the next season. Losing a crop variety is irreversible. That is where seed banks come in; these protected seeds are available to reestablish a crop cycle.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also known as the “Doomsday Vault,” in Norway is a backup to the other world-wide vaults. Owned by the country of Norway and with operations that are coordinated with a research center and by an independent trust, this vault provides yet another layer of protection in case of crop failures. The vault is built to withstand bombs and earthquakes and extends deep into the permafrost layer of a mountain. This extremely cold location enables seeds to be preserved even without a power source.
Countries house seeds in this vault, maintain ownership of the seeds and withdraw if needed. More than 960,000 samples are currently housed in the vault. These range from major crops such as corn, rice, and wheat to eggplant and lettuce. Since its beginning in 2008, only one country has withdrawn seeds. Syria withdrew seeds due to their civil war endangering their local seed bank.
Students did an exercise of making menus with limited food sources and played a trivia contest about the lesson.
Also, this month in Douglas County Ag in the Classroom, younger students learned about fresh fruits and vegetables available at farmers’ markets. Illinois farmers grow more than 40 different types of specialty crops. Illinois ranks third in the nation for the number of farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets are a great way to purchase local, fresh foods, and meet the farmers that grow them. These markets have a wide array of unique and tasty produce.
Many thanks to all who supported the Douglas County Ag in the Classroom program this year. We look forward to next fall and more fun and learning in the classroom! Douglas County Ag in the Classroom is sponsored by Douglas County Farm Bureau, Douglas County Ag Center, and Illinois Ag in the Classroom.