Category Archives: Seeds

The Importance of Seed Banks

April: Sorry for not having written for some time, but this year I have planted and started 5 times what I have done in the past! It’s a good year!

In my area, many of us grow vegetable crops and many have developed seeds for  generations. We have started a seed bank and in collaboration with a few other seed companies and groups, some of us will be growing for seed alone this year. Saving seeds is the easy part. It’s quite another to grow for seed each year. In order to really save seed well, you must grow it and keep it fresh year to year.

Why is this SO important? Andrew Kimbrell of The Center For Food Safety says it well:

My first experience with the perils of large scale seed banks was the scandal that erupted over the Fort Collins collection in the mid 1980s.  Journalists had published stories dramatically detailing the grossly negligent manner in which deposits to the seed bank were treated.  Numerous seed deposits were spilling out onto the floors of the facility, the facility was woefully understaffed, there was no testing of the seed and a virtually complete failure of required regeneration — in short a seed saving disaster. A legal petition by my organization to rectify the decision seemed to get the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) attention. But when no real action resulted we litigated. I was a very active member of that legal team. As such I reviewed much of the material in the case that documented USDA’s complete disregard for the safety and integrity of the seeds under its care. This litigation ultimately forced a settlement where USDA agreed to do an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and conditions at the seed bank improved somewhat.

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Seedy Saturday in Richmond!

Community Dan Jason on Seed Saving: How to Organize for a Resilient Future

Dan Jason from Salt Spring Seeds came to Richmond for a talk on Friday January 21. This was the overview of his comments – we all must start to save seeds NOW. This is how:

Communities are talking a lot about local food security these days because of the increasingly uncertain times in which we live. Many people have even started using the term “food sovereignty” instead of “food security” because it conveys the idea of becoming self-reliant in food rather than simply having stockpiles of dubious food shipped from far away.

A fast growing movement that’s spreading across the globe involves people organizing together in “transition towns” to address the challenges of climate change, peak oil and economic instability. You can get more background at transitionnetwork.org or you could google transition Salt Spring, Victoria, Guelph or Peterborough, for examples. The aim of these transition towns is to create the ability to manage one’s own affairs in the midst of the huge transitions we are facing. Not surprisingly, every transition community lists locally grown food as a first priority.

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Transgenic crop genes can transfer to organics and heritage/heirlooms: new study

April: In the future we will have to be vigilant in watching and testing for GM contamination of our heritage and heirloom seeds and plants. A new study (below) shows how easy it is: although, for those of us in the battle against GM crops, we have always known this exists.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 1, 2010) — A new data-driven statistical model that incorporates the surrounding landscape in unprecedented detail describes the transfer of an inserted bacterial gene via pollen and seed dispersal in cotton plants more accurately than previously available methods.

Shannon Heuberger, a graduate student at the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and her co-workers will publish their findings in PLoS ONE on Nov. 30.

The transfer of genes from genetically modified crop plants is a hotly debated issue. Many consumers are concerned about the possibility of genetic material from transgenic plants mixing with non-transgenic plants on nearby fields. Producers, on the other side, have a strong interest in knowing whether the varieties they are growing are free from unwanted genetic traits.

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The USA Is Going Mad: Part 3: How To Criminalize Seeds

April: I have read about Bill HR875 in many posts. I have slogged through page after page of the Bill to make sure the authors I’m about to post here are on to something. There is more than just this Bill that concerns me about seeds: Monsanto’s Terminator Technology coming out of the “closet”, Codex Alimentarius and Corporate control and lobbying only serve to push this Bill forward faster. There are loopholes big enough to drive a tractor through, and vague enough to stand for anything in the courts. Judge for yourself:

Seeds: How To Criminalize Them: Bill HR 875

HR 875: SHORT TITLE.-This Act may be cited as the “Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009”

-Wisdom says stop a bill that is broad as everything yet more vague even than it is broad.

-Wisdom says stop a bill that comes with massive penalties but allows no judicial review.

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Video on Obsessive Urban Farmer

Interesting video: an obsessive urban farmer on everything: slaughtering animals, keeping animals, soils, neighbors, predators that kill everything, plus advice for new urban farmers.

Video on seed saving from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: very useful information and a very intelligent conversation on seeds, GMO’s, seed patents and controls, seeds from around the world, collecting seeds and more. This young man wants to save the world from seed extinction, and he just may do it! Think we’ll try some of his seeds for 2011.