This summer I enjoyed the growth and harvesting of sunflower seeds, and special ones at that- they came from an internet friend in Canada! Today, I assembled all of the photos (a lot) into a video

The story behind the story behind the story…

Last year my gardening/soundmixing/edteching/doodling friend Jason in Vancouver shared the outputs of his previous summer’s sunflower seed harvest along with an offer to share the seeds with people who commented… if they agreed ti share it forward:

I will leave you with a few pics from the sunflowers in question as they grew last season. Slug defenses will be going up early this year! Hope you are lucky enough to get some seeds, and if you are I encourage you to share the fruits, or err”¦ SEEDS of your labour with anyone and in anyway that pleases you.

The idea was inspired by our mutual friend harry’s lovely idea of how to share worms forward to encourage gardening. And Keira filled in more on the source of the sunflower seeds Jason planted

The seeds were a gift from the Harmony Garden, grown by the Ustlahn Social Society. Harry came to work with me that day for a big food security discussion and celebration. He sketched and chatted to me while the talks were going on. For the breakout we hung with the Harmony Garden folks and learned more about indigenous food security”¦ gardens and wild systems”¦

Cease Wyss and her mom Barb describe the garden in this video

I had two exceptional plants- these were ones that were on a drip for my other flowers and strawberry plants. I had a few more scattered in different areas of my yard, the other ones that did well were on the margin of the vegetable garden, which got regular timed waterings. I’m at 6000 feet elevation, summers are sunny and warm, but not low desert hot. The biggest question was knowing when to try harvesting the seeds. I had no slug problems, looked more like an issue was ants that munched the leaves, but thats okay, everyone benefits from a shared plant.

To make the video, I put all of my 2013 sunflower photos in a flickr set, changing the order to list by oldest first. I used the screen capture capability of Quicktime player to make a video of the set in full screen slideshow mode… it ended up to be about 19 minutes long, way way longer than anyone wants to watch sunflowers. I used the clip editing tool to speed it up 500%, then added some ccMixter music (CC-BY) Acoustic 12 bar rhythm in Am” by Admiral Bob.

So here is the Seed it Forward part. I have this big bag of sunflower seeds ready for post frost planting where you live.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

If you are interested in a set of seeds, now second generation from Vancouver by way of Arizona, let me know in the comments below. My new twist is part of the agreement is sending some seeds back to Jason and Harry (I will provide contact details) and I will be doing the same out of my harvest. If this spreads, by next year, both of them might be knee deep in seeds. And even if not, you can experience to joy and wonder I did in 2013 learning to grow and harvest some special sunflower seeds.

Now, this is a true story of open sharing!

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


  1. Cool! Our garden got thrashed by the last series of storms. We’re knocking it back to zero and have declared this The Year of the Garden (Rebuild).

    I’d be thrilled to plant some Wandering Sunflowers!

    I’m documenting our process, and this will be part of the story.

    1. You are on the list, Sandy! — I removed your address from the comment, I recommend not posting that kind of info publicly. If anyone else raises their hand here (I see you too @pumpkiny), I will contact you via email to ask for a mailing address.

      I have a lot more seeds! Who wants some?

  2. I love this post, particularly the videos and ideas in it. Unfortunately I’ve no spot for growing a sunflower, but maybe you can plant a seed for me somewhere in your garden, Alan 🙂

  3. Take two. My first gen seeds were successful – so successful some ‘coons took off w/*every* *single* *seed* in the dark of the night. So, love to give it another go…

  4. Alan,
    Thanks for the seeds. I will not only plant it forward, seed it forward (if the squirrels don’t eat them) but will try my hand at your sound/image/doodling idea.

    Thanks again. And safe travels.


  5. Just watched your YouTube. OK. Count me in. I’m in the Southern Hemisphere and winter is coming. I think planting season is around September. My only concern is that bio security is pretty high here in NZ, so the seeds might not make it through customs, but hey… what’s to lose 🙂

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