Tag Archives: seed saving

Saving Our Planet One Seed At A Time

Aug. 24, 2012
Saving Our Planet One Seed At A Time
As summer continues to blaze, some of our early-planted varieties will start to bolt, or produce seeds. This offers an opportunity for organic gardeners not only to save the seeds but share them with others—and help save our planet.

Giant transnational seed companies are buying up small seed companies globally and discontinuing their lines of stock in favor of bioengineered seeds they can patent. As the 2008 documentary film “Food, Inc.” noted, with the development of such genetically modified organisms (GMO), for the first time in history, these biotechnology giants are becoming the architects and “owners” of life.

With seed “ownership” and fewer natural, openly pollinated seeds being sold, food-plant biodiversity suffers. Couple this with conversion of open land to farming monocultures (where farmers grow only selected plants such as GMO corn or soybeans and use herbicides to kill all other plants), and loss of habitat thanks to urban and suburban growth, and extinction of whole plant species is under way.

Seedhead News reports that of all types of commercial veggies grown at the turn of the century, only about 4 percent still exist today. Just three grain crops—rice, wheat and corn—make up more than half of all the food consumed globally. By contrast, when Europeans touched foot on North America, Native Americans used up to 5,000 different species of food plants.

Food’s future is not bright unless we reverse these trends. Practicing seed saving, sharing seeds with friends and neighbors, and supporting seed-saving libraries that conserve local and native species are a few of the ways we can do that. Not only will you help the planet by collecting your organic, heirloom and nonhybrid, open-pollinated seeds, but you’ll improve your own garden over time.

Drought? Blight? Insect damage? Keep the seeds of the plants that survive, and they’ll likely pass that resistance to their offspring.

Who Owns Food?

• America’s seeds are owned by a handful of corporations that have bought up the seed stocks for food. Here’s a chart complied by Mother Earth News: http://bit.ly/KQZ22o.

• An iPhone app called ShopNoGMO helps consumers avoid buying genetically engineered food. Find it in the Apple iTunes store.

• Seed Savers Exchange offers an online database on how to collect seeds from various wild and domestic plants, including fruits, vegetables and flowers. Visit bit.ly/JWTfJp.

Here are a few seed resources:

• Seed Savers Exchange: seedsavers.org

• Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson, Ariz., publishes Seedhead News: nativeseeds.org

• Learn how to start a seed lending library: richmondgrows.org, search for “seed lending” if necessary.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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Join seed-saving ‘revolution’ for planet’s biodiversity

Jan. 13, 2012
Join seed-saving ‘revolution’ to foster planet’s biodiversity

Are you keeping your seeds from your garden? If not, you might want to make a New Year’s resolution in that regard.
Each year, with organic, heirloom and nonhybrid, open pollinated seeds, your garden is adapting to your unique growing.
The plants that thrive, if you keep the seeds, will provide proven winners in our climate.
Hard drought? Keep the seeds of those plants that survived, and they’ll likely pass that drought resistance to their offspring.
Blights hitting some plants? Keep the seeds of those that are unaffected, and they also are likely to produce blight-resistant offspring.
Some people swear by hybrids because they are uniquely tailored to certain traits. But the reason heirlooms are heirlooms is because they have enough genetic diversity within them to survive a range of adverse conditions. Keeping those seeds merely emphasizes certain characteristics.
Besides, if you keep seeds, native seeds or unique varieties, you are doing your part for the biodiversity of the planet.
According to Stephen Thomas, seed collection assistant with Native Seeds SEARCH, growing indigenous foodstuffs and keeping the seeds is an invaluable activity.
In the fall issue of Seedhead News, he writes that heirloom crops have all but disappeared.
“Genetic diversity in our food plants has been winnowed down over the last 100 years to a handful of commodity crops, often represented by a few scant varieties. Of all the types of commercial veggies grown at the turn of the century, only about 4 percent still exist today. Just three grain crops – rice, wheat and corn – make up more than half of all the food consumed globally. Contrast this figure with the 3,000 to 5,000 different species of food plants once used by North American Indians, and the biodiversity crisis comes into jarring focus.”
Why not start your own seed library? Share your seeds with friends, family? Doing so ensures a future for rare, homegrown and cherished plants in the future.

Seed library: The January issue of Acres USA magazine (www.acresusa.com) has a wonderful article on creating your own seed library, “Sowing Revolution: Seed Libraries Offer Hope for Freedom of Food.” For details, visit http://www.richmondgrows.org/create-a-library.html. Some libraries:
•Hudson Valley Seed Library – Accord, N.Y. – http://www.seedlibrary.org
•Native Seeds SEARCH – Tucson, Ariz. – http://www.nativeseeds.org
•SLoLA – Seed Library of Los Angeles – Los Angeles, Calif. – http://www.slola.org
Also, for a look at a small, Southern organic and heirloom seed company that started from scratch only four years ago, see Sow True Seed at Asheville, N.C., http://sowtrueseed.com.

Food deserts: Mississippi counties that are “food deserts,” that is, where fresh vegetables are not available, may receive some help from the U.S. government under a mega funding bill passed last month. See: The Healthy Foods Financing Initiative by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: http://bit.ly/uemAx1.

GMO: The Jan. 9 issue of The Atlantic has an astounding article titled “The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods.” It claims Chinese research could lead to the conclusion that eating GMO foods may actually alter human DNA. True? Don’t know. Scary? Yes. See: http://bit.ly/yS2SRW.

Slow Food: There’s a great article in Grist on the Slow Food movement in America seemingly having lost its focus and gone adrift, see: http://bit.ly/wSNUk3.
For a list of 10 issues that some believe it should adhere to for it to remain “a broad ‘big tent’ organization dedicated to ‘taste education’ through preserving and promoting food that’s ‘good, clean and fair’ and the farmers, fishers and others who produce it,” see: http://bit.ly/zipXyS.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.