Guest post by Monika Hotson
Why talk about seeds?
Seeds represent and give life. They are able to preserve the past, and bring necessities for the future. It is important now more than ever to talk about seeds and the many disappearing varieties because of today’s climate change dilemma.
Seeds: A disappearing act. NOT a magical illusion.
Seeds are as endangered as a polar bear or a golden eagle. Approximately 90% of seeds are going or are already extinct. We have lost 94% of our vegetable seed varieties in the 20th century. In 1983, a study was conducted to determine the amount of seeds that remain.
544 varieties of cabbage ………..28 varieties remained
288 varieties of beets………………12 varieties remained
158 varieties of cauliflower……..9 varieties remained
46 varieties of asparagus………..1 variety remained
34 varieties of artichoke………….2 varieties remained
We also lost:
94% radish 93% carrot 91% watermelon
94% cucumber 91% eggplant
Importance of seed diversity
Diversity of seeds can protect against global famine. Variety creates seeds that survive droughts, flooding, and can survive hundreds of years encased in clay. The fear is that genetically modified seeds may not be adaptable to ecological changes. When the crop dies or the seed is plagued with bacteria nothing will be left. Farmers who lose their crop need to completely start over and depend on companies to maintain their livelihood.
If you depend on companies that sell genetically modified seeds:
- What happens if the genetic modified seed dies?
- If we give in to genetically engineered crops do we really know the long term effects of GMO’s?
- Is the world ready to forfeit entire species of plants and food source for mere perception of convenience?
Here are some ways YOU can help save seed diversity!
1. Grow GMO-Free; Open Pollinated Seeds or Heirloom Seeds
What are GMO-Free seeds and open pollinated seeds?
GMO stands for Genetically Engineered Organisms. GMO seeds are created in a laboratory. Genes of a particular trait are gathered by splicing DNA, this desired gene is then inserted into the seed so that it can carry out specific functions. This causes unstable combinations of traits. GMO-Free seeds are created through the process of pollination. Open pollinated plants involve pollination that occurs with natural mechanisms by insects, birds, and animals; creating many different kinds of seeds. Heirloom plants are also pollinated and GMO free but they pass on a variety of very specific traits.
Where to buy GMO- Free seeds:
Buy heirloom/open pollinated seeds. They are organic and promote growth of seed varieties.
To get these seeds look to:
- Buy seed packets that are labelled as GMO-Free
- Buy seeds from organic farmers
- Order from great websites such as Urban Harvest
- See a list of Canadian seed vendors at Seeds of Diversity
- Use the USC Canada search engine to find where to get desired seeds in your area.
How to start a garden:
Not everyone is born with a green thumb. Yet… it is never too late to start gardening. The internet can be your best friend with gardening tips and info. There are some great websites such as How to Start an Organic Garden in 9 Easy Steps to help you start your very own garden. Also, don’t forget to check out my blog on 5 easy ways to save money by gardening!
2. Save Your Seeds
How to save seeds:
Learn a simple way to save the seeds of you favorite fruits and vegetables by visiting OrganicLife . You can also order How to Save Your Own Seeds , a wonderful book with a detailed step-by-step on how to save seeds of all sorts!
For more in-depth information visit USC Canada’s website to see their 5 simple steps to being a seed saver that everyone can follow.
3. Help support a seed bank
What is a seed bank?
Seed banks save multiple kinds of seeds and store them to preserve diversity among seeds.
Why are seed banks important?
Seed banks maintain and ensure the survival of seed varieties! They have varieties that can survive a multitude of different environmental conditions to make sure the crops of farmers succeed. In Norway, there is a seed vault that has thousands upon thousands of different seeds that seed banks have added to have a backup in case something were to happen to their bank. It is considered a doomsday vault. The idea is if there was an economic/ecological collapse or an asteroid were to hit and caused a tsunami wiping out the world, the seeds would still be in the vault to provide the survival of mankind. Support your local seed banks by buying their seeds or giving a donation.
4. Eat local organic foods
Where to buy local?
There are many local farms in the area. Find them on the Parry Sound Local Food Map and the Nipissing and Area Local Food Map
5. Watch SEED- The Untold Story
This is an exceptional film geared to teach about the seed world around you and throughout history. You will not be disappointed in this spectacular masterpiece.