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Now that the longest night of the year has passed, spring will be here in a few months. Last week I placed our project seed order split between Dan Jason’s Salt Spring Seed Company and one of my favorite seed-companies, William Dam in Ontario. All the seeds are from open-pollinated, tried and true vegetable varieties. Dan and myself both have experience in both growing and saving seed from most these varieties excepting the squash.
Once the orders arrive, the project will contact interested dedicated growers and then start distributing the seeds. Basically the seeds include standard and heirloom varieties of beets, chard, peas, beans and squash.
I mentioned this book by Carol Deppe at the last Seedy Sat meeting. Well, I just went ahead and bought it as my Xmas present to myself, so if anyone else wants to read it after Xmas, let me know and I’ll lend it out.
Sharon Astyk’s latest blog post is right in line with what we’re thinking about. As is always (always!) the case with Sharon’s writing, the whole post is worth reading, but this part in particular caught my eye:
And make this the year you really commit to seriously learning how to save garden seeds – I know it seem strange to most middle class Americans, but the world is full of people who can’t afford to buy seeds every year, and we may be joining them. Moreover, seed savers have seed to share with their neighbors, and are a link in our community food security. Join www.seedsavers.org, and commit to taking responsibility for one variety that may be lost – an economic crisis means that some of the people who have been doing this work may need to do other work, so we need to pick up the slack.
More and more, I feel that this little project has big potential to tap into people’s growing realization that many of the things we take for granted, especially in our food supply, are not as stable and secure as we have been taught to believe. At last night’s Kale Force meeting, there were three new people (new to Kale Force, anyway), all of whom expressed their feeling that they really needed to get more serious about growing food, since the global food supply is in a pretty worrisome condition lately.
Something as simple as saving seed has the power to draw a lot of people in and spark discussions about seeds, who controls them, how they work, why we need to save them here (and everywhere!), why we should be growing more food wherever we can, and so on. And I’m certainly glad that we’re starting this now. We cannot wait until the crisis worsens before we start defending our capacity to grow food in this region. With luck, the food and seed availability crises will not get out of hand too quickly; but we need to be prudent and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
I’ll give Sharon the last word:
Most of all, pay attention to the little seed. Like many other tiny things, it is far more important than most people realize.
David, Doug and myself continue to meet, to draw up seed lists and plans for the new Powell River community seed-saving initiative. If anyone has a catchy name, to help promote the project, your suggestions are welcome. Working together with members of the Farmers’ Institute Seedy Saturday committee, we’re getting close to ordering seeds of vegetable varieties for the project. Everyone is encouraged to save whatever seeds from the vegetables they can, this coming growing season. And visit this blog frequently to ask and answer questions and obtain information.
Here is another cool online resource, which I found via the wonderful blog Homegrown Evolution: Mother Earth News has created a Google Custom Search engine to help people find the exact variety they’re looking for, by consulting 500+ online seed catalogues. (The photo they chose to accompany the post is priceless!)
Here are the ten results for cannellini beans, a type of bean which is very much in favour in our house and not so easy to find.
It would be nice to filter the results by country or (even better) by whether or not they are certified organic. Still, it’s a good tool for finding those tricky-to-find seeds.
On Saturday November 29, 2008, the Vancouver Sun published this story about the importance of seed-saving, featuring Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds and also mentioning Brewster Kneen and efforts to counteract the threat posed by terminator seeds and consolidation of the seed supply in the hands of a small number of corporations:
For Jason, the solution is simple: learn to garden. As an experiment this year, he took 12 of his best and most reliable crops, which included wheat, barley, tomatoes and garbanzo beans, put them into a Zero Mile Diet Seed Kit and sold it for $36. It was wildly successful. For those seriously concerned about food shortages, he suggests a mix of grains and vegetables, including quinoa, amaranth, wheat and barley.
“Until now, people thought seeds were part of the common ownership forever and ever,” he says. “People in other parts of the world already collect their seeds. In general, we’ll be thrown onto ourselves much more in future to provide our food. We might as well start now.”