Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - The Seeds of Poverty

Computer and seeds from my garden

As a gardening blog interested in edible plants, it seemed natural to talk about seed security on Blog Action Day 08. Most of us plant crazed individuals know a little about seed saving, heirloom, open-pollinated and the such even if we do not actively participate. We also know that in places far away (Saskatchewan seems far away to me) there are seed arks that attempt to preserve the genetic diversity of our food crops in case the giant seed-opolies and lab seed-splicers get it wrong. And we get that it is poor people in those exotic far off lands that need protection from the dark shadows of imported patented seeds. That they need to save their seed legacies so that they be at least partially food self-sufficient. For it is food, or more importantly the lack of it, that most signifies poverty to many.

However, the scarcity of good food does not just occur in far off lands. The endangerment of plant diversity and local seed legacies certainly is not just happening somewhere else. And most importantly there are seed banks existing all around you - living seed banks.

When you choose to grow open-pollinated seed and save it, you are participating in the maintenance of genetic diversity, but there is more. You can choose to save extra seed and give it to someone. If you are gardening fanatic anyhow, it is no torment to skip around town suggesting that this patch of dull lawn be turned into a garden and by the way, here are a couple packets of seeds to plant in it.

For many urban poor, it is good produce that is hard to come by as mass produced 'inorganic' veggies, sometimes processed out of recognition, are the cheapest eats. You can work locally to create community gardens or to volunteer your time to demonstrate alternative gardening methods (check out these kiddy pool gardens). If you do not have time to do that but have the garden space, you can also participate in the Grow a Row initiative. Just plan for part of your harvest to go to the local foodbank at participating communities. Heck, if you don't live in a participating community, why not try and change that?


Nitty Gritty on Seed Saving

Not all plants reproduce equally so if you want to know if you can properly save seeds of a particular plant, Seed to Seed by Ashworth is a great start, along with innumerable other books. Some plants need large populations to ensure that the offspring are vigorous, others can potentially be saved from one plant. Some need to be grown two years to grow a seed stalk, others will give you seed in the first year. Here is a list of easy seeds to save:


P.S. I have chiapas wild tomato seeds available for those interested.


Some of those links again:

Bloggers Action Day
Plant Gene Resources of Canada - Gene Bank
Seeds of Diversity Canada - seed saving and sharing, living seed bank and resources
Community Gardens in Ottawa from Just Foods
Grow a Row - growing for food banks

Beans saved from my garden: short season chickpea, purple podded pea, speckled cranberry bean (originally saved from grocery store pods), white broad bean (hmmm... variety?), cherokee trail of tears bean


Crafty Gardener said...

I found my way over to your new blog. Interesting reading about seeds.

Robbyn said...

What gorgeous seeds! I'm only barely making my first efforts in gardening and seed saving..(and now I'm off to look up chiapas wild tomatoes)...isn't it fun?? :)
We just purchased Seed to Seed a while back and I'm still reading...

jodi said...

Me again. Reading the names of your bean seeds prompted me to think about variety names and how they get them. 'Cherokee trail of tears?" sounds fascinating; we know about origin of the 'Mortgage Lifter' tomato, but I think collecting the stories of the names might be almost as important as collecting the seeds.

Ottawa Gardener said...

I agree Jodi. In fact, Cherokee Trail of Tears were indeed beans that were reputed to have been taken along on the forced march.