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Seeds

"In earlier times, seed swaps were a yearly occurrence in any farming community. Farmers grew plants, saved seeds from those that performed best that season -- or tasted sweeter or produced more beautiful flowers -- then replanted them the following year as the cycle of life repeated. Open-pollinated, meaning they were "true-to-type" and would produce plants just like their "parents" the following year. Over time each successive generation adapted to its geography's unique climate, temperature, soil, pests, and even plant virsuses. Open-pollinated seeds were a cultural record. They stored vital information about a community, passing it from one generation to the next. Civilizations rose and fell -- and even went to war -- depending on the success of these seeds." - Douglas Gayeton

Seeds contain the agricultural heritage of a community, passing it from one generation to the next. In this week’s Food List, we look at how we can preserve and strengthen our community’s vitality, resilience, and diversity with seeds.

Matthew Dillon understands food resilience and seed resilience as interchangeable, and shares his story of his efforts to bring seed-farm-table back into the local equation.

Cary Fowler made it his mission to protect seed resilience, as depicted in Seeds of Time. To protect Seeds is to protect ourselves and our culture.This is the Miracle of Seeds – these tiny living entities that provide an abundance to our well being.

So why does there seem to be a general contemporary lack of awareness about seed preservation? Sustainable Food Trust has the answer. And ECHO has the solution.

Becoming local preservationist can be exciting, as Cooking Up A Story shows us. Our foodsheds are bountiful and deeply rooted, as SARE presents in Place-Based Foods of Appalachia.

Connecting with your local food system can mean many things, such as becoming a seed steward. One seed steward in Canada reminds us of the gift that’s found within each seed.

We wrap up this edition of the Food List with a personal story of connection with seeds and a feeling of responsibility.

Do you feel inspired to reestablish your local biodiversity?

This week's terms

Open Pollinated

 These seeds were open polinated, meaning they were “true-to-type” and would produce plants just like their “parents” the following year. Over time each successive generation adapted to its geography’s unique climate, temperature, soil, pests, and even plant viruses. Open-pollinated seeds were a cultural record. 

Heirloom

An heirloom seed has been passed along for generations within a family or community. In this way, agrobiodiversity is preserved.

Agrobiodiversity

Agriculture biodiversity (or agrobiodiversity) is a subset of biodiversity which includes the genetic variation of all life relating to agriculture, from crop varieties, livestock breeds, fish species, edible wild plants and animals, to soil micro-biota, pollinators and beneficial insects and other non-harvested species that support food production. Over the course of the last centruy, there has been an incredible decrease in agrobiodiveristy - around 75% of today's food is produced from just twelve plant and five animal species. Its a basic ecological principle that biodiveristy builds resillience, and the same holds true for agriculture. Agriculture which favors diversity has proved to be more resisent and resilient in the face of extreme weather conditions - which we can only expect more of in the coming years - and disease. 

GMO

Any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology. - Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Seed Bank

Facilities, both high-tech and grassroots, where seeds are stored with a commitment to safeguard and ensure they remain viable for generations to come.

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