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Agriculture and Diversity: Students Grow 800-Year-Old Squash Thought To Be Extinct

Oct 04, 2015 07:35 PM EDT
Using well-preserved 800-year-old seeds, students have successfully revived an extinct species of squash.
(Photo : Flickr: Tim Evanson)

Students recently revived an ancient species of squash thought to be extinct. Using well-preserved 800-year-old seeds, students have successfully grown one squash in their school garden in Winnipeg, Canada. This will ensure that the species never goes extinct again.

"This squash is representative of a tribe of a large community and everybody in that community having a place and food being a right on citizenship," Brian Etkin, coordinator of the Garden of Learning in Winnipeg, said according to Mother Nature Network.

The seeds were originally discovered during an archaeological dig on First Nations land in Wisconsin seven years ago. They were preserved in a small clay vessel, about the size of a tennis ball. This discovery suggests that saving seeds is the best way to ensure future plant diversity.

Even though the students were only able to grow one large squash, they plan to keep the seeds of the newly grown squash and grow more in the future. Their findings shed light on biodiversity and how squash varieties have evolved differently.

Traditional agriculture generally involved growing a wide variety of crops to ensure that if one crop failed, there would still be a steady food supply. However, farmers today have limited that diversity by only growing specialized, or more profitable, produce. 

A video regarding the student garden in Canada can be seen online.

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