Let’s save seeds!

Though the title of this post sounds gung-ho, I must confess. Being a gardener, despite my earthy Taurus Moon, does not come naturally to me. Let’s face it. I’m a double Sagittarian with Neptune at the Midheaven who feels much more comfortable out wandering among the stars.

Yep! I had to grit my teeth and actually decide to learn how to garden, had to train myself to narrow my cosmic focus to the enterprise of growing food on this local planet from seed to harvest. Intuitively, I knew that growing local food will become more and more critical for community survival and regeneration in this era of unprecedented change, so four years ago I founded and run the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden on my own private property, to help my Green Acres neighborhood prosper.

I still resist plants, but not as much as before. It’s like I’ve been coaxed down to Earth.

So yesterday I was slicing up a miniature eggplant (about as big as a baby’s fist, what is its name?) that grew in our Garden Tower at the GANG garden this season and decided I liked it enough to save some of its seeds for spring planting next year. I put them in a jar lid, to dry,

not knowing if this is the way I go about saving all seeds (as I recall, tomato seeds are different, and who knows what others). Now that I’m reading The Language of Plants, which utilizes the old mystical hermetic maxim “As above, so below” to such great effect, I don’t mind focusing more on the Below. In fact, I confess again, this book is shifting my attention to the point where I’m actually becoming fascinated with this and other aspects of the gardening cycle on Earth.

Maybe that’s why for months now I’ve been itching to get back in my studio and begin again as an artist (echoing my Mom?). And what I’ve been itching to start with is precise enlarged colored pencil drawings of different seeds, and their various plant carriers. Now I get it. What could be more potent?

Here’s a pdf I just downloaded. You might like it, too, from a company featured in this next post. www.fedcoseeds.com/forms/seedschool.pdf

What’s in a Seed?

September 13, 2012



A seed has the power of all its ancestors. The strength of the oak is also in the acorn. A seed is greater than any country, stronger than any army, and has longevity far beyond any human society.

We are the keepers of the seed, and thence destined to wield its power. And that power will only be lost to those that forget that it is here.

G.W. Martin, editor of Sap Pail

Just as an egg is a potential person, a seed is a potential plant. We use the terms “seed” and “seminal” in an almost identical sense as when we say “He planted a seed in my mind regarding this idea” or “His ideas were seminal to my thinking.” Seeds, semen and eggs are the initiating foundations of life. To mess with these foundations is incredibly arrogant and dangerous.

Mary Shelly knew this when she wrote Frankenstein. Those that are involved in sustainable farming practices knew Shelly’s prophetic genius when they refer to Monsanto seeds “Frankenseeds” and the food produced from these seeds, “Frankenfood.” Think of this anytime you open a can of DelMonte corn, or when you read the back of a label on processed food and find no indication of whether it contains genetically modified food. Chances are very high if you find it in the middle isles of the grocery store, and it contains corn, sugar beets, canola, or soy. That also includes packaged products containing corn or soy oil or corn and/or beet based sweeteners.

Seeds are sacred. Indeed, there are reports that the top 1% have saved seeds in a vault, perhaps in Scandanavia, so that they can survive while the rest of us are dying from their greed and arrogance that are destroying the planet.

We DO still have alternatives. FEDCO seeds, for instance, is an employee and customer owned and operated cooperative that does not knowingly sell genetically modified seeds. On the FEDCO website, http://www.fedcoseeds.com, CR Lawn states:

Seeds are the basis of agriculture. The selections we make determine more than flavor, nutritional value, appearance and other characteristics we are used to reading about in seed catalogs. The decisions we make about the seeds we plant on our farms and in our gardens will shape the future. Furthermore, the seeds we have access to are a product of our past; they represent the choices made by individual farmers and gardeners for thousands of years.

CR Lawn also suggests we all participate in the effort to save seeds and exchange them with others, like us, that prefer to depend on open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds.

1. To renew your age-old partnership with plants. Seeds are the life force. Plants, as living beings, desire to reproduce. By allowing them to go to seed and complete their growth cycle, you cooperate in a process essential to all life forms on Earth.

2. To retain control of your food supply. Some things are too important to allow other people to do for you. Food is a basic necessity and the cornerstone of our culture. Control of the seed is key to control of our food supply. By saving seeds you retain that lifeline. Over the past two generations, the seed industry has done almost no work to maintain, improve or develop open-pollinated varieties that will come true from seed. What little has been done has been accomplished by dedicated amateur seed savers and breeders. We need more such people. Instead, the industry has emphasized hybrid varieties whose breeding lines are trade secrets and whose seed will not come true to type. Lately, biotechnology research has almost completely replaced classical plant breeding at our universities and in the seed industry.

3. To preserve our heritage and our biodiversity. Farmers saved seeds and improved food crops for millennia. Seed companies have been on the scene for fewer than three centuries. Only in the last hundred years have farmers and gardeners become widely dependent on seed companies. Today the seed industry is so concentrated that just five large multinational corporations control 75% of the world’s vegetable seed market. They add and drop varieties according to their own financial interests. Many of our present varieties have only one commercial source. If they are dropped, they will disappear and you won’t be able to get them–unless you save seed.

4. To preserve the varietal characteristics you want. Most varieties being developed by the industry are for large-scale food processors and marketers. For the most part, they are bred for uniform ripening, long distance shippability, and perfect appearance at the expense of taste and staggered ripening. If you want the best-tasting varieties, save your own seed from the ones you like.

5. To develop and preserve strains adapted to your own growing conditions. The large corporations who control the seed trade bought out scores of small and regional seed companies and dropped many of the regional specialties. They are interested only in varieties with widespread adaptability. If you want varieties and strains most adaptable to your specific climate conditions, you can get them only by saving your own seed. Over several generations, seeds can develop very specific adaptabilities to the conditions at your site.

6. To help preserve our right to save seeds. The industry continues to place more and more restrictions on farmers’ and gardeners’ right to save seeds. Variety patenting, licensing agreements, and restricted lists such as that maintained by the European Union, are industry tools to wrest control of the seed from the commons and keep it for themselves. Terminator Technology, now in its developmental phase, would render seeds sterile, making it impossible for farmers to save seed and forcing users back to the seed companies for every new crop.

7. To increase our available options. Contrary to industry claims, patenting has not encouraged creative plant breeding. Instead it has reduced cooperation among plant breeders and restricted availability of germplasm and plant varieties. For example, Blizzard snow pea has been off the market for over a decade because the patent holder dropped it but will not grant permission to any other company to propagate it for sale. In essence, this comes down to OUR being responsible for helping to restore safe, non-GMO seeds by not supporting GMOs through our shopping habits while also buying seeds from those that we can trust are selling safe seeds to the best of their ability.

Burl is an avid writer and publishes to OpEd News while also blogging regularly on http://anewgaia.ning.com.
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