Every person in Stardew Vault had their assigned responsibilities, and for Hermione that revolved around food security. Stardew Farm was one of the largest installations in the vault, and was her grandfather's legacy, having been designed and built during his tenure at Joja Corporation.
Rows upon rows of hydroponic units took up the space, but what really made the facility special was the Seed Maker.
Hermione knew that some wild plants could still make their own seeds, but domestic plants had been improved by Joja to increase their yield, have better resistance to disease and herbicides, and remove their natural ability to reproduce. This was important to ensure not only that plants were predictable in their growth, but also so they couldn't cross-pollinate with wild plants and produce superweeds.
The Seed Maker was the missing step, and is what differentiated Farmers from growers. A complex and proprietary piece of technology, it extracted the genetic information and nutrients of the material fed to it, selected the most viable genome, and manufactured fresh seeds that were ready for planting. The seeds consisted of the plant embryo itself, and a package of nutrients suited for the germination and growth of that particular plant.
Every domestic plant—with one exception—would begin its life in the Seed Maker. Hermione had been told that before the Great War using the seed maker was a mostly automated affair. Sometimes a visit by a Joja technician would be required to update software licenses, but mostly Farmers would feed it with plants they wished to grow more of, along with the occasional purchased bottle of Joja NutriGrow™, and plant the resulting seeds.
The one exception to all this were sunflowers. Sunflowers created their own seeds, and required no Seed Maker in its life-cycle. As far as Hermione knew sunflowers were completely unimproved by Joja.
But over the years the crops had been failing. The farm had an adjacent facility that handled the reclamation of nutrients from waste, and which even included a small chapel for any of the vault's deceased, but no reclamation process was ever 100% efficient. As time went on, the solution being fed to plants would lose important micro-nutrients, and the vault's supplies of NutriGrow had long since been exhausted.
A Seed Maker without NutriGrow, and working with a limited array of nutrients, was anything but an automated affair. The vault's Seed Maker had a Joja Corporation master license installed on it, giving Hermione full access to modify everything in the genomes it copied and the seed composition it implanted them into. When not working at the Farm, Hermione would spend her days reading up on genetics, botany, and microbiology, searching for new ways to extend the viability of the vault's increasingly less viable seed-lines.
Maru felt like such a gift in all this. Most of the technical aspects of Hermione's work were beyond that of the average vault-dweller, but Maru seemed to have an unending thirst for technical knowledge. She was someone that Hermione could bounce ideas off, and both celebrate her successes and analyse her failures.
And yet despite being together almost a year, Maru never had much success with the Seed Maker herself. "I don't know how you do it, hun," she would say. "I try the same adjustments and my plants don't grow at all. It's like you're magic or something."