Why Should We Save Our Seed?
Did you know that most commercial farms grow large mono-crops and cannot save their seed? Their seed has been genetically modified by the corporation known as Monsanto who says they want to stop world hunger through better hybrids, genetic modifications, biocides (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc…), synthetic fertilizers, and infertile seeds. Monsanto claims that because of their genetic modification, we can have plants that will kill or repel pests, withstand drought, have a tolerance to high doses of herbicides, and produce seeds that self-destruct. Does that sound like food you want to put in your body? Would you call that “sustainable agricultural practice”? (Yes, that is their new slogan.)
If you think that Monsanto does this out of goodwill, think again. There is no reason to have a plant rendered infertile by reconstructing its DNA, only if you wanted a farmer to have to repay you every year for the seed and chemicals you constructed in a laboratory, which is exactly what Monsanto forces farmers to do. It is a plant’s natural ability to be able to reproduce itself, that is how life continues to exist.
The unsettling part is that the pollen from these infertile plants can be carried by wind into other non-genetically modified but genetically similar crops (GM corn to non-GM corn) and pollinate with them to form a hybrid. Monsanto can then sue the other farmer for “stealing copyrighted property”. This isn’t ethical and should not be supported in the courts. Monsanto has pulled many farmers into their trap by passively fertilizing their crops with unwanted pollination, then threatening to sue or to have the threatened farmer start growing their crops using Monsanto’s methods (high amounts of chemicals, mono-cultures, and re-buying infertile seed every season). It is a genius business scheme, but is it good for the Earth? Certainly not. Is it even good for people? Definitely not. Life should not be copyrighted. All life should be allowed to continue through trial and error of nature. This is why it is so important for organic farmers to save their seed using traditional methods.
How Do We Save Seeds?
Seed saving is extremely easy and fun to practice. You first collect seeds from the plants in your crops (or from local, organic, non-gmo produce that you buy) that have exhibited the most desired qualities of that season (the most drought-tolerant, the most flood-tolerant, the most pest-tolerant, the tastiest, the biggest, the fastest-growing, early bloomers, late bloomers, et cetera), then dry, label, and store them properly, and you will have seed security for years to come. They can also be a source of income by your local community who will be needing local seed varieties that have adapted to your specific soil and weather conditions for your region.
Make sure you dry your seeds in the sun on a dry surface to let most of the moisture escape, just enough to store them without attracting mold or other pests. They should not be overly shriveled or cracked, this is an indication you have over-dried them or that they weren’t good (matured) seeds to begin with. You should immediately store them in an air-tight container away from light, heat, and moisture. The perfect place would be a pantry or a dry root cellar. Even your refrigerator would work if you have enough room, they will last longer in there!
After a few years, the seeds will not be at their peak and you may not be able to germinate the majority of them, so be sure to keep on planting, growing, and saving! Freezing the seeds is the best way to keep them at their peak for the longest time possible, although I would only do this for an emergency.
Where Can We Start?
If you do not have some organic heirloom seeds ready to plant right now, go to your local farmers or farmer’s market to ask around for some there. Make sure to ask the farmer how they grow their produce/seed and what the characteristics of that specific plant is. A good farmer will know the answers to your questions about the details of the crop. Make sure to not get seeds from farmers who use any sort of chemicals on their plants because that will weaken the plants’ abilities to develop their own protection against the variables of nature. Connecting with local farmers is the smartest option because you can get to know how they farm and they may share some valuable information with you (and vice-versa). If you do not have access to enough local varieties, you can order them online from organic heirloom seed saving catalogues. Here’s a short list for you to look through:
Seed Saving Catalogues Online
Seed Savers Exchange -“A non-profit organization dedicated to sharing and saving heirloom seeds.”
Sustainable Seed Company Certified Organic -“The only sustainably powered seed company.”
Annie’s Heirloom Seeds -“Your Source for the Best Varieties of Heirloom Vegetable Seeds.”
The Organic Gardening Catalogue -“Only Good Things for Your Garden.”
Seeds of Change -“100% CERTIFIED ORGANIC goodness from the ground up.”
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