“If we wait for governments it will be too little too late. If we act as individuals it will be too little. But if we act as communities, it might just be enough.. just in time.”~author unknown…
Today, January 20th, thousands of folks in communities all over Europe are coming together in mass force to show that they do too. They are coming together to let their Parliament know that the recent proposals around seeds are NOT acceptable. Their demands are quite simple really:
1. People, whether they be farmers or gardeners must not be obliged to buy seeds or other “plant reproductive material” from commercial providers. Any regulation must guarantee the rights of farmers, gardeners and all collectives to use, exchange and sell their own seeds and plants, to respect all Human Rights Declarations and the International Plant Treaty (ITPGRFA).
2. The industry standard should not be the adopted standard for the seed and plant market. It implies a technical and legal definition that natural plants cannot comply with and it does not recognise the significance of biodiversity.
3. Freely reproducible plants should not be subject to compulsory registration for varieties or certification of seeds and plants. Biodiversity should take precedence over commercial interest, as it is a public good, just like water.
Seeds are our future. Even if you’ve never grown a single basil plant, your very life depends on seeds. There is absolutely no reason to be passing laws like the European Parliament is considering. The very Pilgrims that settled on our shores of North America brought with them their favorite seeds. The Native Americans shared more seeds with them, keeping them from starvation. What if England had not allowed those Pilgrims to save and bring their own seeds? How different our history would’ve been! Seed saving is as individual a right as any article of the Constitution and Europeans are smart to stop the regulations before they take hold. Would you march for seeds in this country? Does it take much for you to imagine the US making laws that govern our seed supply? Can you say Monsanto?
This spring I hope you’ll consider planting an open pollinated seed and letting it grow, away from other plants like it, so it won’t crossbreed. Consider sharing a few with a friend or neighbor. When it’s time, pick a few leaves or beans or whatever it bears, leaving some to stay on the plant. Leave it alone then. Let it simply sit there storing all its’ remaining energy in the seeds that its’ forming. When the plant dies and when the seed pods are fully dry, pick them then and store them away for next year. Seeds are the best insurance money can’t buy. In brutally difficult times, seeds have been used in place of money. Could that happen again? Do you want our seeds to be regulated in any way? Neither do I.
I haven’t done a lot of seed saving because I don’t have a lot of growing room and because seeds have historically been so cheap and readily available. Seed saving can be a gamble if not done properly, and, by nature, I’m not much of a gambler. Hybrid seeds are dependable, cheap and easier to grow than open pollinated for the most part. BUT they’re a false insurance, offering absolutely no protection for the future-you know, our grandchildren for example. I’ve written here a couple of times about saving seeds from my beloved Hopi Lima Beans..
and I’ve saved cilantro, edamame and a few others but I think it’s time I begin to learn the complexities and vagaries of seed saving from plants that would truly offer lots of flavor and nutrition in case of ‘hard times’ or seed regulations. I also like the idea of learning a new skill. If seed saving is something that interests you, I suggest reading a book titled “The Resilient Gardener” by Carol Depp. Even if you decide not to save any seeds, it’s an interesting read and may inspire you to give it a try.
Since today is Martin Luther King’s birthday, I’ll be part of the noon parade to commemorate his life and the struggles that blacks have gone through to gain their personal freedoms. How appropriate that Europeans are marching for theirs today as well! I’m using the day as a reminder to protect my own freedoms. I hope you’ll join me!
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