My Favorite Time of Year on the Farm

Yesterday I went out to the farm where I grew up. I go most every Sunday to visit Mom and Dad. In the summer, I also go to visit the farm. Or more accurately, to graze.

I started at the raspberries, but since I have so many of my own at home I just plucked a few off as I passed by. The blueberry patch, on the other hand, was a prime target. With over 40 bushes (over 50 years old!) I like a nice sampling. With Dad trailing along, I worked my way up one side and down the other. I didn’t bother with the middle row. My favorite way to eat blueberries is fresh off the bush. Since the first picking of these bushes was to occur the next day it was the best time to be there!

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Dad couldn’t help wanting me to take a photo of how loaded the hazelnut (a.k.a. filbert) trees are. These are the current cash crop of the farm.

After that I moseyed over to my sister’s house next door to see how the Marionberries were doing. They’d been picked a little close so I didn’t find many sweet ones. 😦


Last came the cherry tree. I like to leave cherries for last because of the sweetness factor. Never eat the sweetest fruit first.


I came equipped to pick enough to can 7 quarts. Dad offered to let me use the cherry picker. Oh, yeah!


After I was finished, I backed the cherry picker up and announced, “I wanna see how high this thing goes!” It brought a grin to my dad’s face. 🙂


A view of my parents from my perch.


Looking over the filbert orchard from up in the cherry picker.

My mom got a little worried when I was so high up so I didn’t quite take it as high as it would go. Maybe next time. 🙂

Here are my cherries after I’d gone home and canned them in a hot water bath. (Before and after.)


I hope you enjoyed a peek into my Sunday evening. What’s growing in your neck of the woods?

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Secret Signs & Symbols

hyacinth buds

Photo by Irina Kostenich on Pexels.com

As I was enjoying the purple flowers in my garden today, I was reminded of the role purple flowers play in my Seed Savers books.

In Seed Savers-Treasure, as Clare and Dante travel cross-country in search of a place where gardens still exist, they discover the secret signs and symbols that help members of the underground Seed Savers Movement identify each other. The first sign is purple lupines. Here is an excerpt from chapter 27, Preparing to Leave.

He taught them how to read the night sky and how to find friends.

“Years ago, when gardeners had to go underground, so to speak, they developed signals still used today. When you looked up at my balcony what was the first thing you noticed?”

“Your purple flowers!” shouted Dante.

“Yes, the pansies. I wish you could have seen the lupines. Lupines were really the chosen flowers for our code, but alas, they finish blooming early in the summer around here. So we keep anything purple alive that we can,” he said, smiling.

“What’s so special about lupines?” Clare asked.

“Well, for one thing, everybody has roses,” Gruff said, winking. “The story is this: about a hundred years ago, a mountain in Washington state blew its top. Forests were blown away. The land was devastated. It’s said that the first plants to emerge from the ash-covered land were wild lupines. They’re tenacious—like us. We, the Seed Savers, will come back someday, too.”

“Wow,” said Dante. “So, if we see some place with a lot of purple flowers, they might be friends?”

“Right,” said Gruff. “But there’s more. Obviously if lupines grow wild or if someone likes purple, that wouldn’t be enough to go knocking on their door and ask if they were Seed Savers. The next sign is a symbol of a circle within a circle.”

“A circle within a circle?” Gruff grabbed a pen and paper. “Like this,” he said, drawing. He drew a circle as best he could, and then right outside of it a second circle, enclosing the first.


“It’s an ancient sacred symbol of mother earth, or earth goddess, and the fertility and fruitfulness she embodies. If you go outside my door and take a good look, you’ll find I’ve painted a small one down near the bottom. Anyway, if you find the purple flowers and the symbol, you can pretty much figure they are Seed Savers. But just to be sure, there is one last test. Knock at the door. If someone opens it, first ask, ‘Are you the resident here?’ If they say yes, then ask, ‘Do you know where Amber Jenson lives?’”

“Who is Amber Jenson?”

“She’s not anyone. Well, I’m sure she is someone, but the name is random. Initially the Network wanted to use the name of an early worker in the movement, but it was deemed too dangerous. We’ve never had a problem so far with these three signs. And GRIM hasn’t figured out any of our means of communication. Be very careful with the knowledge.”

Gruff made the children sleep during the day and stay up at night. It would be easier, he told them, if they were used to a nocturnal lifestyle before departure.



Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Seed Savers-Treasure at ALA 2018


If you’re lucky enough to be attending the ALA annual conference in New Orleans this coming weekend, don’t forget to stop by the IBPA booth where you can browse the many quality indie titles.

I’m happy to announce that my book, Seed Savers-Treasure ,will be on display at the booth. Take a look at Treasure and all the other wonderful books! IBPA is booth #3548.




Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Treasure on Audio

Since I’m away enjoying my birthday (yesterday), reblogging this one from last year in my continuing celebration of the rerelease of Treasure.

Sandra Smith, author

It occurs to me that although I mentioned in my last post (the interview with Treasure‘s narrator) that Treasure had just been released on audio, I had no official announcement post. So here it is.

Drum roll, throat clearing: The first book in my Seed Savers series–Treasure–is now available as an audiobook!! Yay! Treasure can be downloaded from Treasure’s Amazon page, iTunes, and of course, Audible.

If you aren’t familiar with the series, Seed Savers takes place in a not-so-distant future where gardening is illegal and real food is forgotten by the younger generations. Treasure begins with three children trying to figure out the connection between seeds and food. The story is perfect for families who love gardening, or for schools and clubs with gardens. It’s also just a fun adventure story that offers up important questions to think about.

Here are…

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Seed Savers Treasure in Pictures

Day three: celebrating the rerelease of Treasure in pictures.



Silver Fir Tree Tomato — what the kids grew


St. Vincent’s — where after-school tutoring took place











Ana reminisces about peaches


silhouette of trees during night time

Clare & Dante’s night sky.  (Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on Pexels.com)


Lupines–secret Seed Savers sign

Urban Garden 2011

Not a balcony, but maybe what Gruff’s might have resembled.


Gruff had potted blueberries.




Library on the border


tree house where Clare and Dante hid


the “apple forest”


“summer sunshine”


Seed Savers -Treasure, order your copy today!

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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Master Gardener Review of Seed Savers-Treasure

Because I’m celebrating the reissue of Seed Savers–Treasure this week, today I’m reposting a review from 2016. The edition reviewed here did not have the new resource back matter, but the story is still the same.


Seed Savers: Treasure (Book 1) is a work of fiction, written for age 9 through young adult readers. The subject matter in the book is somewhat based on discussions of current world events suggestive of GMOs, interest in global food supplies, and the science that currently drives these topics. As Master Gardeners, we are non-political of course. But this book is so much more than just an acknowledgement of those issues.

It is engagingly written to provoke thought among today’s youth, while also providing a backdrop of a very entertaining literary experience.


This book was the 2013 Runner-up in the Young Adult Category of the Green Book Festival, which honors “books that contribute to greater understanding, respect for, and positive action on, the changing worldwide environment.”

The book is set in an era of America when gardens no longer exist as an option for citizens to grow their own food. In fact, the word “garden” and all books that relate to such activities have been banned.

Three young children, Clare, Dante, and Lily, thirst for knowledge about how plants grow and what food is that comes from plants. They find fun, some dangers, and mostly, adventures along the way. They learn lost American skills from an elderly woman, Ana, who shares information about what food-producing plants are, their parts, growing methods and the fruits and vegetables that result. Ana belongs to a secret society known as “Seed Savers.”


Imagine a world where children have no knowledge of the origin of food? It’s not really that far-fetched, of course. When Ginny Stibolt (author of Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida, University Press of Florida, 2013) visited with us last month, she related a story about an adult who took children to her garden to “pull” a carrot. When the carrot was pulled out of the ground, the children were “horrified” that the woman had apparently “buried her carrots in the dirt!”

It is an unfortunate truism that the vast majority of today’s children are no longer “connected to the soil” or know how food is produced.

The children in the book Seed Savers: Treasure learn about seeds, what different seeds look like, what they produce, and how plants are cultivated. Now, Agri-Fest  fans—of what does that remind you? This book is“right on” in presenting children with the wonders of agriculture and food production and how it should be a focus in understanding everyday living. Additionally, young readers can identify with the children in the story as they become empowered to effect change through what they have studied.

Clare, Dante, and Lily have many adventures as they thirst to learn about seeds and plants, while avoiding and even outrunning those that would thwart their efforts—and, making new friends along the way. Children love reading about and keeping “secrets” and this book is a childhood adventure and mystery romp.

There is much to like about this book, and I personally look forward to reading the next installments of the series.

And—if you don’t have a special young person right now, by all means get the books for yourself!

Can children save the world? Who would ever think they couldn’t?

UF/IFAS Master Gardener
Lakeland, Florida

Originally Published  2013 in The Ragweed (Newsletter), which
has now been replaced by another newsletter to MGs.
Special thanks to Carol and her Master Gardener group in Florida for allowing me to post this on my blog!

S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!


Excerpt from Seed Savers Treasure


purple beans

In celebration of the rerelease of Treasure today, I’m posting an excerpt from the book that explains the title.

Enjoy. From chapter 8:

Ana reached down and pulled something from the pocket of her sweater. She rested her closed fist on the table and opened it slowly like a flower opening its petals to the sunshine. Three small capsules were inside. They were hard and white with little black eyes.

“What is it?” Dante asked. “Fruit?”

“Seeds!” Ana said.

Stunned cries came from the children.

“But they don’t look like the other seeds you gave me,” Clare said.

“That’s true. I’ve only brought you small seeds, ones that were easy to pass. These are bean seeds,” she said, placing one in each child’s hand. “They’re one of my favorites to watch grow. Now listen while I explain the process. We’re almost out of time.” The children listened, holding the precious seeds tightly.

“To grow food, you bury the seed in soil. The seed needs water to begin growing, to sprout; germination it’s called. After a certain amount of time, if the soil is warm enough and the seed stays moist, a plant will grow from within the seed, pushing up through the soil.”

She paused, checking the children’s faces for comprehension. “Each seed contains within it a complete plant and everything the plant needs to grow.”

Dante broke the silence that followed. “So it’s all there in the seed? The whole plant is just waiting inside the seed? It’s like a treasure that you need to bury instead of one that you dig up?”

“So it is, Dante, so it is.”

“Then what?” Lily prodded, trying to get to the bottom of things.

“Well, the plant grows bigger and bigger if it continues to have light and water. Some plants produce a fruit containing seeds. Other plants will just make more seed. And so it goes. You already know the other parts of the plant. People ate various plants, and different parts of each plant. Sometimes the preferred part is the leaves, sometimes it’s the root, or stem—”


“Other times it’s the fruit, or even the seed.”

“People eat the seeds?”

“Look at your bean seeds—beans are very popular food in many parts of the world—and used to be here.”

“But they’re so small,” said Lily.

“And hard,” added Dante.

Ana laughed. “You make them soft,” she explained. “And you eat a whole pile of them,” she said, looking at Lily.


She sensed their hesitation.

“So that’s it?” Clare said. “You bury the seeds in soil and they grow into plants, and you eat the plants? How long does it take?”

“It takes time.” She could tell Clare was disappointed. But what could she expect? These children were used to instant food, instant information, ready-made everything. Still, she knew the desire was there. Be patient, she told herself. Bring them along carefully. Children are our only hope.

Thanks for reading! You can order Seed Savers Treasure from your local bookstore, request it at the library, or buy from the online vendors below.

Seed Savers-Treasure at Amazon

Seed Savers-Treasure at Barnes & Noble

Seed Savers-Treasure at Indiebound

 Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!


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