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A Call for Community-Based Seed Diversity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Call for Community-Based Seed Diversity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With every passing day without further action, community seed diversity and access—and therefore food security—is being placed at increasing risk.

This is the Year to Save Seed! Here’s How

This is the Year to Save Seed! Here’s How

If ever there was a year to learn to save seed, I think this is it. So many people planted coronavirus gardens this spring that many seed sources ran out. Some seed-selling establishments considered seed “nonessential,” and restricted sales even when there was ample stock, simply to discourage people from unnecessary shopping.

In my book, seed is one of the most essential supplies. Saving them is just part of my ordinary round of gardening tasks, and doesn’t need to be intimidating. Of course there are some I don’t save yet, such as carrots. And there are some I can’t, such as new varieties I’m planning to try in the never-ending quest for a paste tomato that doesn’t get blossom end rot. But many of the beautiful things I grow in my garden are grown from seed I saved.

Field pea pods and seed on the left, asparagus (or yardlong) beans and pods on the right, and cantaloupe, watermelon and tomato in the middle.

If this is your first garden ever, pick something easy to save and give it a go! If you usually save a few varieties, I challenge you to save something new this year. And if you’re a semi-experienced seed saver like me, I suggest you save a larger quantity than usual. I’m planning on giving lots away come spring, whatever the state of the world. Even if seed is plentiful, free seed makes gardening cheaper and more accessible for my friends and neighbors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s Not Just Toilet Paper, Seed Shortages Spread As Locked-Down Americans Turn To Growing Their Own Food

It’s Not Just Toilet Paper, Seed Shortages Spread As Locked-Down Americans Turn To Growing Their Own Food 

Americans are panic hoarding plant seeds as the coronavirus outbreak confines millions to their homes, crashes the economy, and disrupts food supply chains. This has resulted in people questioning their food security.

A Google search of “buy seeds” has rocketed to an all-time high across the US in March to early April, the same time as supermarket shelves went bare. 

We’ve done a pretty good job of documenting the evolution of panic hoarding over the last several months. Americans started buying 3M N95 masks in mid-January, then non-perishables in February, followed by toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and guns.  

U.S. Facing Meat Shortage In Grocery Stores

Now apparently, plant seeds are the next big thing…

Seed companies who spoke with CBS News said they have stopped taking new orders after unprecedented demand. George Ball, chairman of Pennsylvania-based Burpee Seeds, said the recent increase in new orders is “just unbelievable.” The company will start accepting orders again on Wednesday after it stopped taking new ones for several days to catch up on the backlog.

Americans in quarantine are becoming increasingly concerned about their food security. What has shocked many is that food on supermarket shelves that existed one day, could be completely wiped out in minutes via panic hoarding. Some people are now trying to restore the comfort of food security by planting “Pandemic Gardens.”

“If I had to put my thumb on it, I would say people are worried about their food security right now,” said Emily Rose Haga, the executive director of the Seed Savers Exchange, an Iowa-based nonprofit devoted to heirloom seeds.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Planting Seeds in Crisis

Planting Seeds in Crisis

Food and seed sovereignty in uncertain times

As governments of more and more countries introduce various kinds of lockdowns (1) during the ongoing virus “pandemic” (1), we appear to be experiencing what many would say is an unprecedented global “crisis” (see for example 2). This article will explore the opportunities inherent in such a situation, in particular with regard to food and seed sovereignty and, ultimately, the sovereignty of our own lives.

What is crisis?

There are many theories about the origins of the Coronavirus and the curiously strong grip its presence has on media and governments worldwide (3, 4, 5). For example, that the virus was made possible by factory farming (3) or our current mistreatment of farm animals (4). Or the theory postulated right here on Permaculture News by Nirmala Nair that perhaps it could be “a symptom of dwindling microbial biota – a result of the past 50 years of accelerated industrial food production, processing and movement of food around the world?” (5)

Regardless of the actual origin, at any time, the influence of media and government propaganda is something to be aware of. This seems a particularly important moment to be aware of news and actions aimed at inducing emotions such as fear and panic, and to provide a counterpoint of calm, reflection on wider issues, and compassion.

With this in mind, let’s look at the etymology of the word ‘crisis’. Though often used in a negative context, we can see that the roots of this word come from the Greek for “decide, judge” (6). A time of crisis, therefore, can be seen as a time for making decisions – for becoming aware of the choices we face as a species and a planet and to decide on a course of action. Though decisions could be scary to some, this time can be seen as an opportunity for us to decide, individually and socially, how we actually wish to be living our lives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Polyculture Market Garden Study–Results From Year 4–2018

THE POLYCULTURE MARKET GARDEN STUDY – RESULTS FROM YEAR 4 – 2018

HERE ARE THE RESULTS FROM THE FOURTH YEAR OF OUR MARKET GARDEN POLYCULTURE STUDY. THIS STUDY LOOKS AT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GROWING ANNUAL VEGETABLES AND HERBS IN POLYCULTURES VS GROWING THEM IN  TRADITIONAL BLOCKS.

In this post you will find an overview of the trial garden and the polycultures we are growing, a description of what we record and the 4th year results from the trial. You can find results from previous seasons here.

First of all we’d like to say a huge thank you to the team of volunteers that joined us for the study this year and that make it possible for us to carry out our experiments and research. It was a pleasure to work together with you. Thank you Victoria Bezhitashvili, Angela Rice, Malcolm Cannon, Elise Bijl, Alex Camilleri, Daniel Stradner, Emilce Nonquepan, Ezekiel Orba and Chris Kirby Lambert.

It was a great a mix of people from all over the world including university students, a crypto fund manager, ex-nintendo web editor and market gardeners. Thank you all for your valuable input, it was our pleasure to host you and we look forward to seeing you again some day.

The Polyculture Study 2018 Team

GARDEN OVERVIEW

Location: Bulgaria, Shipka
​Climate: Temperate
Köppen Climate Classification – Dfc borderline Cfb
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5b – 7a
Latitude: 42°
Elevation: 565 m
Average Annual Rainfall: 588.5 mm
Prevailing Wind: NW & NE
Garden Name: Aponia – Polyculture Market Garden

 

The six longer beds in the left hand corner of the photo on the right (the Aceaes) are the trial beds, the focus of this study.You can find the location of the Polyculture Market Garden on google maps here (labelled as Aponia on our Project map)

Garden area: 256.8 m2
Cultivated beds area: 165.6 m2
Paths: 50 cm wide – 91.2 m2
Bed Dimensions – 23 m x 1.2 m  Area – 27.6 m2 per bed
Number of beds: 6

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Growing Grains at the Home-Scale Farm

GROWING GRAINS AT THE HOME-SCALE FARM

I dream of growing grains, of being so far down the line in establishing a kitchen garden, a vegetable garden, a food forest, that time can be allocated to developing a system for handling the cereal part of the food supply. Well, let me put that differently: I aspire to get to that project one day, and from time to time, I do catch myself daydreaming and wondering just how it’ll work. Today, this morning, is one of those times.

Now, the truth of the situation, at least from what I deduced, is that producing fruits and vegetables and adopting a diet centered around them is more proximately realistic than growing my own wheat or rice. In large part, I’m on my way. The vegetable garden produced well over the summer such that the pantry has a nice stock of relishes, stewed items, and pickles, and the freezer is stuffed with bags of green beans, okra, and pesto ice cubes. We foraged serious quantities of wild mushrooms and persimmons. We have a box of sweet potatoes and another of autumn squashes. With some tweaks and natural growths (in area), those gardens will be there to provide substenance. With our new property finally purchased, fruit trees and berry bushes will hopefully start this spring. In other words, I can truly visualize how this side of things will get going. It won’t end the way I see it now, but the general direction is real.

Home-scale grain systems, however, elude me. Other than growing some amaranth this year, what amounted to about a pound of dried seed, I have no real experience with producing grain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Every Prepper Needs Non-GMO Seeds in Their Long-Term Supplies 

Why Every Prepper Needs Non-GMO Seeds in Their Long-Term Supplies 

Oftentimes in the interests of economics and financial necessity, people will abandon quality in the interests of price. Nothing could be more telling than the current battle being waged with GMO foods and crops. The GMO crops are more than simply unhealthy: they have also been the doorway for companies such as Monsanto, Cargill, and others to patent their seeds. The FDA became involved during the Obama years, and raids and prosecutions occurred by charges that the patents on GMO seeds were violated by farmers whose crops showed traces of those patented genes.

This is difficult to avoid, as it is almost impossible to prevent bees and/or wind from spreading pollen from GMO crops to non-GMO farms. There is a definitive work that you can read to find out the dangers from a health perspective and from a corporate perspective (regarding “Frankenstein GMO’s and factory farming). It is entitled Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods, by Jeffrey M. Smith.

The book was written in 2003 and contains a wealth of knowledge about GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) crops and farming…giving the history behind the corporate movement and explaining how cross-pollinating occurs (as outlined above), giving the corporations “leverage” with which to take down small family farms.

Fortunately, there are champions to rely upon that will give us a “rallying flag” to regroup and wage this battle, uphill though it may seem. My good friend, Miss Tess Pennington, is one of those champions: a family woman of faith, honesty, and solid American values based on hard work and true pioneer spirit. She has shown us the way: there are numerous articles available at Ready Nutrition for your perusal on seed-saving and seed preservation that will be your “compass rose” to keep the harmful GMO crops from crossing your table.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Seeds and the Commons

Global seed reserves are under serious threat. The recent ‘Baysanto’ merger is just another indication of the systematic consolidation of the seed market in the hands of a few select multi-national corporations. At present, over 75% of the global seed trade is controlled by just ten companies. This is not news and the Sustainable Food Trust has reported at length on the state of the world’s seeds and the innovative projects and movements which have emerged in response to this.

One such organisation is OpenSourceSeeds (OSS). By equipping plant breeders and propagators with a free, open-source licence for the seeds they breed, they provide the necessary legal protection to prevent the patenting of the seed by other parties. This is about protecting seeds from privatisation and consequent market consolidation, and reframing seed as a common good.

Comprised of activists, agronomists, lawyers and plant breeders, OSS has origins in the Association for AgriCulture and Ecology (Agrecol), a German NGO which supports organic and sustainable agriculture and rural development in the Global South. In the US, the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) works to similar ends, aiming to bring seeds back into common ownership by creating a pledge for breeders – this is, however, not legally binding like the OSS seed license, but the two organisations work closely together on this issue.

With a commitment to agroecology, OSS advocates for diversified agriculture and farming strategies which manage to meet the needs of a growing global population whilst protecting the Earth’s natural resources. Despite the fact that we know of over 50,000 edible plant species, currently 90% of human calorific intake across the globe is supplied by just 15 crop varieties.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Dire Warning From The “Doomsday Vault”

Climate change alarmists are taking full advantage of the “Sudden Stratospheric Warming” (SSW) event, which occurred above the Arctic in mid-February, as further evidence that the world’s unpredictable and sometimes chaotic weather is jeopardizing humanity’s food security.

The split of the polar vortex, otherwise known as an SSW event, shifted the Arctic airmass to most of Europe as well as Western parts of North America. Climate alarmist pointed out that massive snowstorms in Europe, dangerous weather patterns in the United States, and rain in the Arctic demonstrates how extreme weather is altering seasonal growing patterns.

Here is what Bloomberg said, “the world was upside down: it was raining in the Arctic Circle and snowing in Rome,” as explained above, the SSW event has been the primary driver of chaotic weather since mid-February.

Researchers, activists, executives and government officials gathered in Longyearbyen, a small coal-mining town on Spitsbergen Island, in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of what has become known as the “Doomsday Vault,” which is an underground bunker buried deep inside a mountain where the world stores its plant seeds from apocalyptic consequences of climate change and war, said Bloomberg.

Last month, we reported how the Norwegian government is planning to allocate 100 million kroner ($13 million) in technical improvements to enhance the facility after it sprung a leak from melting permafrost — officials warned that climate change could put the facility at risk.

“Biodiversity is the building block to develop new plants and because of climate change we’re in a terrible need to quickly develop new varieties,” said Aaslaug Marie Haga, executive director of Crop Trust, a group established to support gene banks. “The climate is changing quicker than the plants can handle.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Oligopolization of Food Supply Hits a Snag

The Oligopolization of Food Supply Hits a Snag

Three companies to control 60% of world’s seed and pesticide markets.

German drug and agrichemicals giant Bayer has suffered a setback in its efforts to acquire the world’s biggest seed company, Monsanto. Bayer had reckoned on winning regulatory approval for its $63.5 billion takeover bid at the beginning of this year, but this week the company cautioned that it could take longer than expected to receive final clearance from EU regulators.

The corporate marriage between Bayer and Monsanto has already received the blessing of more than half the 30 antitrust authorities that need to sign off on the acquisition, including those in the US and Brazil. If given the go-ahead by the European Commission, this mega-merger would create the world’s largest supplier of seeds and farm chemicals.

Bayer’s interest in Monsanto is reflective of a trend that began decades ago but picked up speed in 2015: the increasing concentration of power and control over the global food chain. US giants Dow and DuPont were the first to tie the knot. Their merger, completed in 2017, resulted in a combined seed-and-pesticide unit that, in terms of annual sales, is roughly the size of its biggest current rival, Monsanto.

In the last two years, Chinese chemical giant ChemChina has bought up Swiss pesticide-and-seed player Syngenta; and fertilizer giants Agrium and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan have merged into a new mega-player called Nutrien.

This gathering process of oligopolization is happening at virtually all levels of the global food industry, including on the buy side — companies that purchase farmers’ crops and process them into livestock feed, food ingredients, and biofuel, as well as serve as the intermediary in grain export markets. But it’s the concentration of power and ownership in the global seed industry that should be the biggest cause of concern, since seeds are the primary link of the global food chain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Resisting Tyranny: Struggling for Seed Sovereignty in Latin America

Resisting Tyranny: Struggling for Seed Sovereignty in Latin America

The Latin America Seeds Collective has just released a 40-minute film (‘Seeds: Common or Corporate Property?) which documents the resistance of peasant farmers to the corporate takeover of their agriculture.

The film describes how seed has been central to agriculture for 10,000 years. Farmers have been saving, exchanging and developing seeds for millennia. Seeds have been handed down from generation to generation. Peasant farmers have been the custodians of seeds, knowledge and land.

This is how it was until the 20th century when corporations took these seeds, hybridised them, genetically modified them, patented them and fashioned them to serve the needs of industrial agriculture with its monocultures and chemical inputs.

To serve the interests of these corporations by marginalising indigenous agriculture, a number of treaties and agreement over breeders’ rights and intellectual property have been enacted to prevent peasant farmers from freely improving, sharing or replanting their traditional seeds. Since this began, thousands of seed varieties have been lost and corporate seeds have increasingly dominated agriculture.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that globally just 20 cultivated plant species account for 90 percent of all the plant-based food consumed by humans. This narrow genetic base of the global food system has put food security at serious risk.

To move farmers away from using native seeds and to get them to plant corporate seeds, the film describes how seed ‘certification’ rules and laws are brought into being by national governments on behalf of commercial seed giants like Monsanto. In Costa Rica, the battle to overturn restrictions on seeds was lost with the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, although this flouted the country’s seed biodiversity laws.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

10 Seeds to Plant for the Survival Garden

Special Offer: FREE Survival Seed Starter Pack (Seriously, 1,000 Seeds For Free!)

There are many different types of emergencies that can have long-term repercussions on our way of life. One of those impacts is on our food system. Due to our aging infrastructure and roadways, emergencies can stall the delivery of goods, leaving a community without food for a given period of time. As well, personal emergencies such as job loss could also wreak havoc and make purchasing food all the more difficult. Because these types of emergencies can come out of the blue, many have taken to gardening as a way to insulate themselves from unforeseen emergencies.

Survival seeds are one of those long-term essential emergency preparedness measures that every family should have. They are lightweight, easy to store, and can provide a family with more than enough food. Having a variety of fast-growing seeds to turn to for growing in the garden or for sprouting will ensure a family can maintain their nutrition until help arrives.

Starting a Survival Garden

While sprouting is a quick, “just-add-water” solution for nutrition, growing a garden takes more expertise and planning. As with any form of preparedness subject, a well laid out plan is essential before beginning. Before a new survival gardener starts this endeavor, there are a few questions to consider.

  • Which are the vegetables that grow best in the area?
  • How much time do you have to devote to a large garden?
  • Do you have enough room to grow a year supply of food?
  • Will your survival group be assisting in tending the garden?
  • Do you have any physical limitations such as back or should problems, weight issues, etc.?
  • How long is your gardening season?
  • Do you have the ability to add greenhouses or grow houses to extend your gardening season?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Inside The World’s “Doomsday Vault”

Inside The World’s “Doomsday Vault”

Imagine that the unthinkable has happened. A massive asteroid impact triggers a “nuclear winter” effect, or one of the world’s most dangerous supervolcanos erupts. Maybe Donald Trump gets in an epic Twitter feud with Kim Jong-Un that initiates World War 3. Either way, things are going sideways, and the fate of human civilization itself is at stake. Will everything be lost? Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins explains…

ENTER THE ‘DOOMSDAY VAULT’

Well, besides the fact that the world’s cities have been replaced by smoking craters, there is some good news for the humans that survive a potentially apocalyptic scenario.

On a remote island that is just 800 miles (1,300 km) from the North Pole, the Norwegian government has built a failsafe in the freezing cold that protects thousands of the most vital crops from extinction. Officially called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, it already holds close to a million samples of crops around the world, with each sample holding about 500 seeds.

Today’s infographic, from Futurism, has more on this Doomsday Vault that could one day help to save civilization:

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

Climate Change Adds Urgency To Push to Save World’s Seeds

Climate Change Adds Urgency To Push to Save World’s Seeds

In the face of rising temperatures and worsening drought, the world’s repositories of agricultural seeds may hold the key to growing food under increasingly harsh conditions. But keeping these gene banks safe and viable is a complicated and expensive challenge.


During the 872-day German siege of Leningrad in World War II, in which an estimated 1.1 million civilians died, a small band of workers devoted themselves to safeguarding a priceless trove of 200,000 seeds at the Institute of Plant Industry. Then the world’s largest seed bank, the collection had been amassed, in large part, by famed Soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov during expeditions to 64 countries.

As the siege wore on and starvation became epidemic, workers at the institute refused to eat the seeds and protected them from hungry citizens.

View gallery
Scientist holding seeds

GCDT
Seeds stored at a gene bank in Mexico.

Nine of Vavilov’s seed bank colleagues ultimately died from starvation.

Seventy years later, in 2012, employees of a gene bank at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas in Syria (ICARDA), heroically duplicated irreplaceable wheat, barley, and lentil seeds and spirited them out of the battle-scarred country to the frozen Svalbard Seed Vault, located inside a Norwegian mountain. Last year, the vault was opened for the first time to retrieve those seeds in order to re-establish ICARDA’s gene banks in Lebanon and Morocco.

From war, to civil strife, to natural disasters, seed banks around the world face crises that, with surprising regularity, befall these genetic repositories that are the lifeblood of the international agricultural community. With 9 billion people to feed by 2050 and with crops facing increased stress from rising temperatures and drought, plant breeders must marshal all of the available crop diversity to continuously develop new varieties of wheat, maize, rice, and other foods.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Monsanto Losing Its Grip?

Monsanto Losing Its Grip?

The earnings warning was just a precursor.

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed manufacturer, is not having a good year. The company recently slashed its 2016 earnings forecast from the $5.10-$5.60 per share it had forecast in December to $4.40-$5.10, claiming that about 25-30 cents of the reduction was due to the stronger dollar. But judging by recent trends, a strong dollar could soon be the least of its concerns.

Across a number of key markets, the company is facing growing resistance, not only from farmers and consumers but also, amazingly, governments.

In India, the world’s biggest cotton producer, the Ministry of Agriculture accuses Monsanto of price gouging. It even imposed a 70% cut in the royalties that the firm’s Indian subsidiary could charge farmers for their crop genes, prompting Monsanto to threaten that it would withdraw its biotech crop genes from the country.

If Monsanto’s threat was a bluff, it’s just been called. According to Mandava Prabhakara Rao, the president of the National Seed Association of India (NSAI), Monsanto’s threat came as a big relief:

All these years, the company has restrained us from using technologies other than the one developed by it. It forced the seed firms to sign the licence agreements that barred them from using other technologies.

India’s government also seems unconcerned by the prospect of Monsanto’s withdrawal.“It’s now up to Monsanto to decide whether they want to accept this rate or not,” said Minister of state for agriculture and food processing, Sanjeev Balyan. “We’re not scared if Monsanto leaves the country, because our team of scientists are working to develop (an) indigenous variety of (GM) seeds.”

India’s pushback against Monsanto is part of a gathering global backlash against Monsanto and the GMO industry as a whole. Even in the U.S., where GMOs are estimated to represent more than 90% of corn, soybean, and cotton acres, the trend is no longer Monsanto’s friend.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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