Our dear friends, Dan and Kathy, stopped by last night for a dinner to celebrate a recent award and brought with them, not wine or flowers or chocolate or some other traditional hostess gift but rather a treasure trove of seeds. I am talking 439 seed packets!!!! And not just any seeds but heirloom, open pollinated, rare variety seeds, painstakingly place in categories and even entered into a computer program with information on planting times and so on. The seeds were not all for me of course but Kathy is starting to pass them around to those of us who are serious gardeners in the hope that we will plant the seeds, harvest and eat the food and save the seeds for the next generation.
One of the goals of our permaculture guild is to start a well-organized seed bank and library. I heard a disturbing statistic this week. 6 seed companies control 98% of the seeds in the whole world. As most of the seeds sold are hybrids, they will not breed true and can not be reliably saved from year to year. If there is any bigger threat to the survival of the human race than the lack of genetic diversity in our food system, I don’t know what is. I also read that although there are hundreds of thousands edible plants, most people only eat about twenty varieties on a regular basis. What are we missing? I aim to find out. Kathy and I spent hours going over the seeds in her collection. I took samples of as many as I thought I would be able to get in the ground this year as well as some that will store well for future plantings. Onions are the only seeds that only save for one year. I now have 22 varieties of tomatoes and 15 kinds of dry beans. I can’t wait to try the new (old actually) leeks and the many kinds of lettuce. Today, I have tomake a run to town. I am going to stop at Staples and pick up some small manilla envelopes so I can begin my seed library. I will also be on the lookout for a file cabinet to hold them. Some seeds will be vacuüm sealed in mason jars and held in the freezer. I am also thinking about a file card system that can be collated by starting date and cross referenced by category. This may sound like overkill but when I read about Monsanto and Dow and their death grip on my food supply, I do think this is too much. Preparedness for the future means having a way to grow food. The time investment now will be my investment in my future and yours. If our kids are to have food security, we can not afford to let our biodiversity go the way of the dinosaur.