The industrialization of agriculture has resulted in a staggering loss in the variety of crops raised to feed and clothe our population. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that between 1900 and 2010, 75% of the world’s crop biodiversity was lost. This includes both plant varieties and domesticated animal breeds – both the result of thousands of years of thoughtful stewardship by farmers and pastoralists.
A loss of diversity in any ecological system is associated with a reduction in resiliency, this is the case in agriculture as well as ecology. We can mourn the lost sturdy landrace cattle and sheep able to withstand high alpine or desert conditions, as well as the little blue potatoes tolerant of drought and blight, or we can embrace the challenge to reverse the trend.
The solution to the problem of monoculture and monopoly practices, is the emergence of new producers, new varieties, active breeders and active savers of open pollenated varieties. That is what we learn about in this video. Adaptive Seeds is a new company run by two passionate young farmers, and it’s just one of the dozens of new start-up seed companies committed to rebuilding our agricultural biodiversity, and especially regionally adapted varieties. To expand the genetic diversity and choice of seeds available to farmers and gardeners alike, is to expand production of a wide range of healthy varieties available to farmers and eaters. Adaptive Seeds has led the way by saving, preserving, growing, breeding, and distributing seeds from around the world, but especially those adapted to the unique growing conditions of the pacific northwest where they live and work.
- Organic Seed Alliance
- Rebuilding America’s Food Tradition
- American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Native Seed Search
Getting into this field:
- Learn to Farm: Find a job here
- Learn seed saving techniques, preferably through work with an experienced mentor.
- Become a professional or amateur seed saver focused on regionally adapted seed varieties.
- Become a contract vegetable seed grower for FedCo, Johnny’s, High Mowing or other seed house.
- Grow up your own seed company. (i.e. small grains, indie seed grower/merchant)
You can take seed breeding courses and read books by elders in this field including:
- Suzanne Ashworth
- Janisse Ray, The Seed Underground
- Will Bonsall
- John Navazio
- Frank Moreton, Wild Garden Seeds
Greenhorns Radio segments related to this episode: