A half dozen of us braved the icy roads last night. We met in the Sustainabilty Library over the Creamery to discuss the how’s and why’s of seed saving. We spent some time discussing our goals both large and small. The overarching reason for committing to yet another task, another night out, is to provide a seed bank, stocked with vegetable varieties we know will grow here. We want to have seed redundancy so that if we have a bad year there will always be enough seed to start over. We want our seed saving to be an insurance policy against an uncertain future. We see saving open-pollinated seeds as a statement of self-reliance. I also see it as a political statement. Others may occupy Wall Street but I want to occupy my home and hearth, my land and community and controlling my food is the best way for me to do it. I’ll be starting with squash. I have the seed of the Oregon Sweet Meat Homestead, the Delicata and the Bennings Green Tint ready to go. I’ll be planting early and covering with the Wall’O Waters and taping blossoms so I can hand pollinate at the right time.It’s redundant but I don’t want to take a chance. Part of the process will be record keeping and standard storage procedure. There is much to learn and not much time.

We have boiled almost a gallon of syrup. The first batch is too thick although it’s a simple matter to thin it with some boiling water. There is something a bit like seed saving in the syrup production. It would be far easier to just plunk down the money and buy my syrup from the guy up the street. I could even make a cheap syrup alternative from sugar, water and maple flavoring. I could even forget the whole thing and buy some sweet, kind of syrup-like substance at the market for a couple of bucks a bottle. But, to me, getting involved in the process matters. I want to know how. I want to make mistakes now while I can afford to make them. I want to vote with my food dollars. And I like good food. There is just nothing that quite matches the flavor of real maple syrup, real butter and a perfect waffle with a side of bacon from last year’s pig.

The snow is thick on the ground today. The air has a blue quality, a trick of diffused light and shadow. It’s quite beautiful, so much so that I can forgive the appearance of winter when I had just about given up on it and begun to anticipate spring. I’m heading off to work today, then meeting with staff from Greenfield Community College to discuss the reskilling program I’m teaching at this summer. I feel something. Even people who are very mainstream are talking about it. It doesn’t feel like a fad. It feels like a shift. This food and skills stuff has an immediacy to it. If you have been thinking about growing some food or learning to do something new, if you have been considering some edible landscaping or a neighborhood buying club this might be the time to take the plunge. Occupy your life.