is for Seeds
Loyal reader and frequent commentor, Hilary of Positive Letters blog recently responded to one of the posts in this abecedarium with a link about Landreth, the oldest seed company in the United States, established in 1784. Thank you Hilary! I strongly advocate for the use of heritage and non-GMO seeds, and so I’m inspired to share a bit about that today.
To begin with I want to encourage you to take 5 minutes and listen to this inspiring message by Dr. Vandana Shiva, She is an activist, environmentalist, and author of Soil Not Oil. It’s a few years old, delivered in 2015 which was designated by the U.N. as the Year of Soil, but to my mind it’s even more important, more relevant, more critical today. She talks about our responsibility, the challenging tasks at hand, and reminds us to “recognize that in the seed and the soil we can find answers to every one of the crisis we are facing.” And most beautifully she reminds us “we are all seeds.”
Next, I want to head your over to Global Movement for Seed Freedom. They are a global network of individuals and organizations committed to ecological agriculture, fair trade, and the right to save, exchange, and use open pollinated, non-GMO, non-patented seeds.
I encourage you to read about their mission and then if you’re so inspired to sign the Declaration on Seed Freedom. Even if you don’t garden, don’t work with seeds, don’t plant vegetables or flowers, or even think this affects you in any way, I assure you it does.
Something else worth considering is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, deep inside a mountain on a remote island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. There are many gene banks of seeds/storage facilities around the world, and yet it is recognized they are vulnerable to regional or global catastrophe, not only limited to natural disaster, but also including accident, equipment failure, mismanagement, funding cuts, war and civil uprising.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was designed to be a global “fail-safe” facility, duplicating seed storage held by local vaults across the world. The location was chosen because the cold climate and permafrost. It’s built in the side of a mountain and the climate insures the vault rooms “will remain naturally frozen even if there is failure of the mechanical cooling system and rising external air temperatures due to climate change.”
Of equal importance in my mind is the fact that ”Norwegian law, promulgated prior to the establishment of the Seed Vault and intended therefore to apply more generally to research and use of genetically modified organisms in Norway, effectively prohibits importation of genetically modified seeds and their storage in Svalbard at this time.”
I have to say that doesn’t sound quite as iron-clad as one would hope.
Another unexpected issue was that earlier this year global warming produced extreme high temperatures over the winter, melting permafrost and sending water into the entrance tunnel of the vault. It did not reach the storage area or affect any of the seeds, but it’s not a problem that was originally anticipated.
No doubt about it, it can be discouraging. There is still so much to be done – fighting GMOs, insuring seed diversity, making environmental issues a priority. But now is not the time to give up in despair. I’m reminded of the old nursery rhyme:
“Plant four seeds in a row. One for rook, one for crow, one to wither, one to grow.”
We have to keep at it – keep planting our ideas, our voices, our literal and metaphoric seeds.
And we need to remember what Dr. Vandana Shiva reminded us in the message I referenced at the beginning of this post. We are all seeds.
Artist Tyler Feder has created a wonderful print of the powerful sentiment:
“They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds.”
So let’s make sure we do our best to continue to grow.