SAVE OUR SEEDS

A “volunteer” sunflower blooms in the garden

The cult of uniformity that has enveloped agriculture and our culture as a whole, is sweeping the globe, laying earth bare and denying diversity. – primal seeds

This year we’ve launched a few homegrown campaigns here at PTF headquarters.  From encouraging our readers to grow closer to home, then preserving the bounty and now the next step in self reliant food production – saving seed diversity.

Not only is this challenge to raise awareness, the goal of this challenge will focus people become truly self-reliant in their own food and seed production. Instead of having to rely on  hybrid seeds which have to be purchased year after year we want to shift the focus and concentrate on finding and providing regionally adapted, open-pollinated seeds and supplying the tools and knowledge needed for food self-reliance and seed production.

As seasoned and newbie gardeners alike know, it’s easy to buy new seed every year, but saving your own will not only save you money but hopefully provide some satisfaction as a minor act of empowerment against the corporate control over the world’s seed supply.  Yep that’s right.  You’ve probably heard of Big Oil – well, there’s a new kid on the block.  Multi-nationals now own the rights to many of the world’s food seed varieties, but any concerned gardener can short-circuit the system by saving seed.

While consumers struggle to fuel their cars and put food on the table, oil companies (like Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips) and seed companies (like Monsanto, Cargill and ADM) are raking in record profits. – OCA

Take Control

Save Your Seeds – take back your food supply from corporate controls

There are many reasons to save seed; to save money, to preserve a non-commercially available variety, to observe varieties for adaptation to our difficult growing conditions, to share the bounty of our gardens with other seed savers and for the pleasure of becoming an observer and an active participant in our own food production.

Start A Community Seed Bank – connect with fellow gardeners in your area, ensuring seed security

A seed bank protects rare and useful local crops. It is also an emergency source of seed if crops fail due to disease, pests, or bad weather.

Buy OP or Heirloom – try to stay away from hybridized or gmo contaminated seeds

Open-pollinated vegetable varieties reproduce themselves in one of two ways: cross-pollination between two plants (via wind, insects or water) or self-pollination (between male and female flower parts contained within the same flower or separate flowers on the same plant). Beets, brassicas, carrots, corn and squash are cross-pollinating, and so require isolation in the field to keep varieties true. Beans, lettuce, peas and tomatoes are self-pollinating, do not require isolation and are the easiest for seed-saving home gardeners to sustain year to year.

S.O.S Pledge

I pledge to take back control over the most sacred form of plant life – seeds

I will strive to save my own seeds, encourage self pollination and self seeding “volunteers”

Refrain from purchasing seed varieties controlled by Monsanto

Support local seed banks

Purchase organic, heirloom or open pollinated from independent seed companies who’s mission are to save seed diversity

Share your pledge with the world with this nifty icon – feel free to “save as” and use! Also join other homegrown revolutionaries at our sister site FreedomGardens.org

Diversity Lost

Seeds are critical to our success as gardeners and farmers. They are compact packages of genetic information and stored food reserves, just waiting for the conditions found in warm, moist soil in order to germinate and create tomatoes, carrots, beans and thousands of other delights out of sunshine, air, water and soil. For most of the last ten thousand years of human history, seed-saving was something nearly everyone practiced, because in order to eat and therefore to survive, it was necessary. The grains and beans which formed the basis of most diets were both seed and food. Grown in large quantities, the best were saved for planting and the rest were eaten. Our ancestors did this each year, generation after generation through the centuries. Variations in climate, soil and techniques from garden to garden and community to community, accumulated through the years, creating the incredible diversity which existed over much of our planet well into this century. These local seeds were integral to life and culture everywhere. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these varieties has disappeared.”
From Bill Duesing – Living on the Earth 1999

According to FAO estimates 75% of the genetic diversity of crop plants were lost in the last century. A survey by RAFI found that approximately 97% of U.S. Department of Agriculture lists have been lost in the last 80 years.

Blacklist

Seeds companies are being bought up at an alarming rate by Monstanto. Their most recent purchase was Seminis.

It is estimated that Seminis controls 40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of the world market—supplying the genetics for 55 percent of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75 percent of the tomatoes, and 85 percent of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas. The company’s biggest revenue source comes from tomato and peppers seeds, followed by cucumbers and beans.

The brand-name companies under Seminis (such as Petoseed) have developed, released, produced and distributed varieties common to the market farmer and even home gardener. These include Big Beef, Sweet Baby Girl and Early Girl Tomatoes; Simpsons Elite and Red Sails Lettuces; Red Knight and King Arthur Peppers; Gold Rush and Blackjack Zucchinis; Stars & Stripes Melon; and Bush Delicata and Early Butternut squashes

Read complete article

:: Resources ::

Collecting and Storing Seeds from Your Garden

Monocult: Corporate control over our food supply

Grow open pollinated seeds for self-reliant gardening

How to start a community seed bank

Why and how to save seeds

Open Pollinated vs Hybrid

Seeds: hybrid vs. open pollinated

Heirlooms versus Hybrids: A Common-sense Approach

Genetically Engineered vs. Hybrid

Recommended Reading

Seeds of Deception

Saving Seeds

Comments(54)

  1. KK says:

    Very informative…yes, get the word out about seed-saving and the companies that are buying all the major seeds. Saving seed is probably one of the most important subjects for gardener/farmers. How to do it and what techniques you need for what crops is so vital too. I’ve been saving seeds for a few years now, and have had some amazing results with some. I saved some slow-bolt cilantro seeds that have been incredible, likewise, some yellow squash seeds that have been the most productive plants this year. Lettuce, peas, beans, arugula, really any of the salad plants and herbs are ideal for you to save every year. They become adapted to your climate and growing season. And not everything makes the grade…you also get duds too. But that’s part of the observation/discovery/fun of it all! Take more control of not only your life, but your seeds too.

  2. KK says:

    Very informative…yes, get the word out about seed-saving and the companies that are buying all the major seeds. Saving seed is probably one of the most important subjects for gardener/farmers. How to do it and what techniques you need for what crops is so vital too. I’ve been saving seeds for a few years now, and have had some amazing results with some. I saved some slow-bolt cilantro seeds that have been incredible, likewise, some yellow squash seeds that have been the most productive plants this year. Lettuce, peas, beans, arugula, really any of the salad plants and herbs are ideal for you to save every year. They become adapted to your climate and growing season. And not everything makes the grade…you also get duds too. But that’s part of the observation/discovery/fun of it all! Take more control of not only your life, but your seeds too.

  3. Stacy says:

    Monsanto bought Seminis in 2005, and as they’re one of the largest suppliers in the country, it’s likely their varieties have been included in most of the catalogs we peruse regularly. The Seminis website (us.seminis.com for North America) includes under “Products” a “Home Gardeners” submenu with lists of their specific product names and the dealers (catalogs) who carry them to help make avoiding them easier. You can even look up their commercial variants so you know which names to avoid at commercial outlets.

  4. Stacy says:

    Monsanto bought Seminis in 2005, and as they’re one of the largest suppliers in the country, it’s likely their varieties have been included in most of the catalogs we peruse regularly. The Seminis website (us.seminis.com for North America) includes under “Products” a “Home Gardeners” submenu with lists of their specific product names and the dealers (catalogs) who carry them to help make avoiding them easier. You can even look up their commercial variants so you know which names to avoid at commercial outlets.

  5. EmilyB says:

    We are very lucky here in oz, with over 4 seed companies (locally!) that rely on us to save the seeds for resale. I imagine there is alot more through out Oz too. The only problem is there is too many tasty looking plants to grow!
    I had a volunteer tomato last year that produced the most horrible green and orange tomates, that never ripen! At the moment Parsley is the volunteer plant that is popping up everywhere, even in the depths of winter! Gotta love it

  6. EmilyB says:

    We are very lucky here in oz, with over 4 seed companies (locally!) that rely on us to save the seeds for resale. I imagine there is alot more through out Oz too. The only problem is there is too many tasty looking plants to grow!
    I had a volunteer tomato last year that produced the most horrible green and orange tomates, that never ripen! At the moment Parsley is the volunteer plant that is popping up everywhere, even in the depths of winter! Gotta love it

  7. Thomas says:

    Thank you for an inspiring post, this is important stuff. I’ve heard that you can’t take seeds from just any plant grown from commercial seeds, due to genetic design. Is this true? (I’m from Europe.)

  8. Thomas says:

    Thank you for an inspiring post, this is important stuff. I’ve heard that you can’t take seeds from just any plant grown from commercial seeds, due to genetic design. Is this true? (I’m from Europe.)

  9. Judith says:

    I have just started “down the garden path”, and I find myself in awe of how much I am truly enjoying watching Mother Nature do her awesome thing. I started collecting seed immediately, since I could see how many varieties of plants I could suddenly have for no cost at all. We shop at a commercial grocery store as well as the Farmer’s Market and I wondered how many of these seeds could be relied on. I am like a fiend trying out my newly harvested seeds just to see if they could grow. But I noticed my parsley seeded differently this year than last. Can we safely gather all seeds everywhere?

    I also applaud your concept of getting experiences together in the community. My garden is a “square foot” garden in back of our condo in Anaheim. We have a dwarf grapefruit in the middle of our 19×17 foot yard and so it makes it difficult. Though we have long range plans, we hate the idea of cutting down our faithful grapefruit

  10. Judith says:

    I have just started “down the garden path”, and I find myself in awe of how much I am truly enjoying watching Mother Nature do her awesome thing. I started collecting seed immediately, since I could see how many varieties of plants I could suddenly have for no cost at all. We shop at a commercial grocery store as well as the Farmer’s Market and I wondered how many of these seeds could be relied on. I am like a fiend trying out my newly harvested seeds just to see if they could grow. But I noticed my parsley seeded differently this year than last. Can we safely gather all seeds everywhere?

    I also applaud your concept of getting experiences together in the community. My garden is a “square foot” garden in back of our condo in Anaheim. We have a dwarf grapefruit in the middle of our 19×17 foot yard and so it makes it difficult. Though we have long range plans, we hate the idea of cutting down our faithful grapefruit

  11. Beth says:

    This is very important to me. I’ve began to look for places to buy seeds locally. I’ll take the pledge. I even made a banner with your icon above for my sidebar to share with everyone!!

  12. Beth says:

    This is very important to me. I’ve began to look for places to buy seeds locally. I’ll take the pledge. I even made a banner with your icon above for my sidebar to share with everyone!!

  13. Joe says:

    Thomas:

    Yes. Some plants have had their DNA modified so that they will germinate, but they will produce sterile seeds that won’t work. The idea is that growers will be unable to save some of their seeds to sow the following year and will therefore purchase more seeds from the company. Google “Terminator Seeds” and you will find out all about them.

  14. Joe says:

    Thomas:

    Yes. Some plants have had their DNA modified so that they will germinate, but they will produce sterile seeds that won’t work. The idea is that growers will be unable to save some of their seeds to sow the following year and will therefore purchase more seeds from the company. Google “Terminator Seeds” and you will find out all about them.

  15. Boston Frank says:

    Great article….so what seed companies are left? Who do we support? How do we find out which companies to by from?
    These maybe naive questions but from a newbies stand point very important…I would hate to later find out that I was unwittingly supporting companies like Monsanto through my ignorance.

  16. Boston Frank says:

    Great article….so what seed companies are left? Who do we support? How do we find out which companies to by from?
    These maybe naive questions but from a newbies stand point very important…I would hate to later find out that I was unwittingly supporting companies like Monsanto through my ignorance.

  17. Regina says:

    Wow- I had no idea this was even going on! Thank you for this very important post!

  18. Regina says:

    Wow- I had no idea this was even going on! Thank you for this very important post!

  19. Melissa says:

    Where to buy seeds? For us in North America, how about Bountiful Gardens (www.bountifulgardens.org) and Baker Creek Heirloom seeds (www.rareseeds.com). (I attribute both links to earlier PTF posts). Both seem to be committed to saving seed varieties as well as sustainable agriculture.

    Great post, Anais. Thanks for the helpful links!

  20. Melissa says:

    Where to buy seeds? For us in North America, how about Bountiful Gardens (www.bountifulgardens.org) and Baker Creek Heirloom seeds (www.rareseeds.com). (I attribute both links to earlier PTF posts). Both seem to be committed to saving seed varieties as well as sustainable agriculture.

    Great post, Anais. Thanks for the helpful links!

  21. Alida says:

    Great post. I fwd via email the post to some friends to get the word out of gardening and having your own seeds versus going to Walmart ea. year to buy seeds.

  22. Alida says:

    Great post. I fwd via email the post to some friends to get the word out of gardening and having your own seeds versus going to Walmart ea. year to buy seeds.

  23. Brandi says:

    I’m on board with seed saving, for sure! I’ve been surprised at just how easy it actually is. I even made my own little paper envelopes for this year, and I let my kids decorate them. So much fun.

    I’ll second Melissa’s suggestion of Bountiful Gardens and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I’ve ordered from both companies and gotten wonderful customer service and excellent germination rates on all the seeds I ordered.

  24. Brandi says:

    I’m on board with seed saving, for sure! I’ve been surprised at just how easy it actually is. I even made my own little paper envelopes for this year, and I let my kids decorate them. So much fun.

    I’ll second Melissa’s suggestion of Bountiful Gardens and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I’ve ordered from both companies and gotten wonderful customer service and excellent germination rates on all the seeds I ordered.

  25. David says:

    Saved seeds from formerly Wild Oats, of an organic Delicata & getting 4 different varieties of squash. Looks like one is Carnival, Dumpling, Delicata, & a similar delicata mystery squash. Will document the varieties via my Flickr site later this season :). Thanks Dervaes familia for bringing up timely topic of exciting seed culture :).

    community gardener, David in San Gabriel Valley, CA

  26. David says:

    Saved seeds from formerly Wild Oats, of an organic Delicata & getting 4 different varieties of squash. Looks like one is Carnival, Dumpling, Delicata, & a similar delicata mystery squash. Will document the varieties via my Flickr site later this season :). Thanks Dervaes familia for bringing up timely topic of exciting seed culture :).

    community gardener, David in San Gabriel Valley, CA

  27. Alida says:

    We already decided among our family to share flower bulbs from our glads that we planted as a family. We will plant more glads from those bulbs and the new ones growing from the glads. There are multiple gardeners in my family. Looking forward to that. Thanks for the post again. Inspirational.

  28. Alida says:

    We already decided among our family to share flower bulbs from our glads that we planted as a family. We will plant more glads from those bulbs and the new ones growing from the glads. There are multiple gardeners in my family. Looking forward to that. Thanks for the post again. Inspirational.

  29. Thomas says:

    @Joe: Thank you for shedding some light on this.

  30. Thomas says:

    @Joe: Thank you for shedding some light on this.

  31. planb247 says:

    let me second the recommendation of rareseeds.com… most of my garden this year came from their seeds (and local organic farmers).

  32. planb247 says:

    let me second the recommendation of rareseeds.com… most of my garden this year came from their seeds (and local organic farmers).

  33. Frugal in Mexico says:

    Perfect envelopes for your seeds are from tea bags!

  34. Frugal in Mexico says:

    Perfect envelopes for your seeds are from tea bags!

  35. Emily says:

    This is such and interesting and important topic! I am still trying to learn about seed saving techniques and avoiding cross pollination of similar plant varieties such as peas. It’s rather hard to separate plants in a small yard. I am going to try to collect spinach seeds this season. We had 2 plants that some how survived a Vermont winter and had leaves to eat very early on in the spring. It’s bolting now, I hope I can tell when the seeds are ready to collect. I order seeds from High Mowing. http://www.highmowingseeds.com/
    They sell organic seeds and are against GMOs and I believe are a small local company here in VT.

  36. Emily says:

    This is such and interesting and important topic! I am still trying to learn about seed saving techniques and avoiding cross pollination of similar plant varieties such as peas. It’s rather hard to separate plants in a small yard. I am going to try to collect spinach seeds this season. We had 2 plants that some how survived a Vermont winter and had leaves to eat very early on in the spring. It’s bolting now, I hope I can tell when the seeds are ready to collect. I order seeds from High Mowing. http://www.highmowingseeds.com/
    They sell organic seeds and are against GMOs and I believe are a small local company here in VT.

  37. ron smith says:

    I don’t understand why cross pollination of varieties is considered a bad thing. Isn’t that how you get new varieties?

  38. ron smith says:

    I don’t understand why cross pollination of varieties is considered a bad thing. Isn’t that how you get new varieties?

  39. jrumskas says:

    Ron, cross-pollination is a good thing and is quite natural. However, in the case of saving seed, you don’t really want your prized, well adapted, good tasting, good sized tomato to cross with a cherry tomato unless that is your intention. To avoid this, you must take precautions when saving seed so that your strains retain the characteristics you like. To do this you have to isolate plants using one of many methods like hand pollinating, time isolation, or cages. It really depends on the plant. When you get into the world of genetically modified plants, from a home seed savers perspective, you do not want any GMO plants to cross pollinate with your plants because you will be in patent violation if you use those seeds and subject to being fined if you do. Some GMO plants like BT corn are poisonous and if it crosses with your corn, then your corn s offspring can be poisonous. I hope this helps.

  40. jrumskas says:

    Ron, cross-pollination is a good thing and is quite natural. However, in the case of saving seed, you don’t really want your prized, well adapted, good tasting, good sized tomato to cross with a cherry tomato unless that is your intention. To avoid this, you must take precautions when saving seed so that your strains retain the characteristics you like. To do this you have to isolate plants using one of many methods like hand pollinating, time isolation, or cages. It really depends on the plant. When you get into the world of genetically modified plants, from a home seed savers perspective, you do not want any GMO plants to cross pollinate with your plants because you will be in patent violation if you use those seeds and subject to being fined if you do. Some GMO plants like BT corn are poisonous and if it crosses with your corn, then your corn s offspring can be poisonous. I hope this helps.

  41. octopod says:

    Is there a seed bank already in Pasadena?

  42. octopod says:

    Is there a seed bank already in Pasadena?

  43. JN says:

    Interesting commentary on the social justice aspects of intentionally creating sterile plants, by a missionary priest and a theologian…

    “Unless the grain of wheat shall die: The moral and theological case against Terminator seeds”

    http://www.progressio.org.uk/shared_asp_files/GFSR.asp?NodeID=96096

  44. JN says:

    Interesting commentary on the social justice aspects of intentionally creating sterile plants, by a missionary priest and a theologian…

    “Unless the grain of wheat shall die: The moral and theological case against Terminator seeds”

    http://www.progressio.org.uk/shared_asp_files/GFSR.asp?NodeID=96096

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  47. Rhonda says:

    Save and share seeds from our own gardens is such a great way to control what we feed our families. Keep up the good work with sharing information.

  48. Rhonda says:

    Save and share seeds from our own gardens is such a great way to control what we feed our families. Keep up the good work with sharing information.

  49. Steph says:

    Such a great article! I saved my seeds for the first time this past fall and I cannot wait to plant them this spring. Another great site to visit is the seed exchange forums on http://www.gardenweb.com... you can exchange your saved seeds or postage with likeminded gardeners who have saved their own seed, such a lovely concept! Happy Gardening:)

  50. Steph says:

    Such a great article! I saved my seeds for the first time this past fall and I cannot wait to plant them this spring. Another great site to visit is the seed exchange forums on http://www.gardenweb.com... you can exchange your saved seeds or postage with likeminded gardeners who have saved their own seed, such a lovely concept! Happy Gardening:)

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