Tuesday, July 24, 2007

 

Seed Savers

I have to apologize for yesterday's post. It lacks a certain clarity that I like to convey, almost as though my brain was sitting in a sock while I was writing it. That wasn't the case, really. It was more a matter of thought overwhelm - too many ideas coming out at once and, because I was blogging, not writing an essay, I didn't take the time to properly stitch them all together. Sorry about that.

The RUSS method of artistic resource conservation wasn't even on my mind when I first started blogging. It just popped out, but it's pretty good.

Now, to continue this discussion of getting an ancient hobby. I've been reading "The Sixth Extinction" by Terry Glavin and have finished the chapter "An Apple Is a Kind of Rose," wherein Glavin discusses how ten major corporations have control of around half of the world's seed reservoir. That means that ten corporations control most of our major agricultural crops. They own patents on them and will legally pursue anyone who attempts to create new plants from their inventions. They've modified plants so that when they grow, they won't produce seeds, or it takes the application of the company's herbicides in order to get the plants to grow. This might not be such an issue - companies owning certain plant hybrids - except that "wild" seeds and plants are going extinct at a rapid rate and wild seeds are humanity's hedge against problems with the hybrids.

Glavin mentions that there are a number of people who've been so disturbed by the situation that they've started seed banks. One of these is Kent Wheatly in Decorah, Iowa, with his Seed Savers Exchange, which he began in 1975. (Glavin doesn't mention Diane Ott Wheatly's role in co-founding Seed Savers Exchange.) Seed saving appears to be one of those little underground activities - in some countries it's illegal to do this - like complimentary medicine and organic farming (at least in my neck of the woods). For that reason, it would make a great hobby, one that might be the saving grace of humanity in the future. If each of us chose one or two heirloom varieties of plants to grow in our yards or in pots in our homes, voila! We'd not only have a new pastime, we'd be helping to preserve an essential part of nature. Now, if we could just change the zoning ordinances in our towns so that they'd be more tolerant of wild plantings, rather than perfectly manicured, mostly useless grass, then we'd be onto something.

Coincidence ALERT: Yesterday a writer friend and I were emailing back and forth and she mentioned that she was researching farming and agricultural practices for a novel she's writing. Lo, and behold, she said that she had found information on seed saving and heirloom varieties of plants. We had come across the same topic at about the same time through two different routes.

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