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Alarming Loss of Edible Biodiversity

Aug 15, 2011

The latest issue of National Geographic Magazine focuses on the challenge of feeding more people with dwindling and compromised natural resources.  The graphic above shows the alarming loss of genetic diversity in 10 of the most popular kitchen garden crops.  One way for you to be part of the solution is to save some of your own seeds each year and support seed-saving activities and groups in your area. 

Here are some US-based groups well worth exploring:

  1. Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, has been pioneering heirloom seed exchanging for over 35 years. "I grow German Pink tomatoes and know that my great-great-grandparents also grew this variety in Bavaria long before I was born," says Whealy.
  2. Abundant Life Seeds in Cottage Grove, Oregon, is an exchange specializing in potatoes like the Austrian Crescent-Fingerling, which is often used in salads.
  3. Located in western California, Bountiful Gardens offers unusual hot-weather heirlooms like Egyptian spinach greens and Madras radish, as well as mushroom-growing kits.
  4. Virginia’s Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has a selection of southern heirlooms like peanuts, peas, and cotton, along with cold-hardy perennial onion plants that produce clusters of small onions rather than single bulbs.
  5. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has retail stores in Missouri, Connecticut, and California. This season, Baker Creek introduced Rich Sweetness 132, a small, bright-orange tomato said to taste like a pear.
  6. Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson specializes in tomatillo and teosinte, among other crops that thrive in the southwestern desert climate.
  7. Victory Seeds, an exchange in Molalla, Oregon, sells heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs. New this year are the Chinese Curved Snake cucumber and the Kustovaya Oranzhevaya pumpkin.
  8. Berea, Kentucky, is home to the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center, where heirloom beans like the Lazy Wife bean, the Goose bean, and the Big John bean are a specialty.

Source: National Geographic


Hi Roger This small seed company in the UK has a useful fact sheet on seed saving that you can download for free, and other useful information on seed saving. Real Seeds. One useful tip is to open all junk mail envelopes carefully and keep them for saving seed in. Because of the glue on envelopes we are not allowed to put them in the cardboard and paper recycling bin so it is a good way of re-using them. Glenn
As my father liked to say, "We are all descendants of a long line of survivors!" Thanks Roger, for this timely reminder that gardeners everywhere should remember their survivor ancestors & plan for well-adapted seed harvests from kitchen gardens. I find that all the children I know still carry the primal instinct & enjoy seed-harvest as if it were jewel-gathering & more ... They know they are gathering life - taking life in hand. Seed planning & harvesting would be a good topic for a KGI POLL - could stimulate some productive planning at many celebrations around upcoming International Kitchen Gardening Day! August 28, 2011. I am pleased to note that Native Seeds/SEARCH has enlisted Bill McDorman & his wife Belle Starr as their new Directors - a fine joining of Bill's decades of work in founding Seeds Trust & High Altitude Gardens with the Southwest & Native American seed traditions.
I don,t know if anyone has heard of this phrase in relation to seeds. It was knew to me until i noticed it on the 'Chris Jordan' site that Jessica has highlighted in the past. It would appear that large seed companies nowadays have the technology to make seed, produced by a plant grown from their seed, totally sterile. This means that the user of the seed cannot save any seed they produce, to grow on in the future.[1]. [2]. It,s quite disturbing, even though i don,t think they have implemented this technology. In the past i have let the debate on Genetically Modified seed just wash over me, but when you read something like this you begin to appreciate how dodgy it all is. PS: When reading article [2] make sure the little grey cells are functioning perfectly, because i found it damn complicated. Glenn
Links are working less well than ever nowadays. Here are the full URL,s. Glenn
Thankyou Roger, Just tonite I had crowder peas for supper a variety called Hercules that was delicious. They are a disappearing variety. Google turned up only 2 sources and the were both out of stock. My seeds came from a neighbor who gave them to me asking me to grow them, he was concerned he couldn't find the seed anymore. Although the seeds were several years old enough came up to give me a meal tonite, a couple meals of dry peas for winter and I'll save all the best pods for seed next year. I've bought seeds from several of the companies listed above, Southern Exposure is my regular source. I recently learned of a new seed company....Heavenly Seed Anderson SC. You can google the name for the website. They have a similar goal. I'll buy some seed from them this year. Supporting these small companies will help. I think sharing our own saved seeds like my neighbor did is another good idea.
I just rewatched The World According to Monsanto a free document available on the internet, and once again it scared the hell out of me to see how this company can control even our governments by lies and political contributions. If you haven't watched this video, I reccimend it to you, This points out the importance of saving our non GMO seeds and/or buying from seed companies such as outlined in this blog or others who certify their products to be free of altered genes. Local is best if you can find them. What will our future generations have to eat when you can legally only buy seed from Monsanto and their ilk, and the land will only grow only those seeds fertilized with the companies chemicals? Stay natural, David

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