Sometimes our efforts and impact can seem insignificant. When we’re bent over weeding a row in the patch that we are sure we only just weeded the week before, yet the weeds are still taller than the crop we’re actually trying to grow, it is easy to think that resistance is futile. What are we doing it all for anyway? What can one little ¼ acre patch of market garden in dry bloody Central Victoria actually do to create change in the world?
Then there are the moments when the smallest action in our little garden seems to have great significance and we are reminded of the importance of small and simple actions in creating the world that we want to live in.
Last spring a dear friend left a small paper bag in our hot house. In the bag was a fistful of purple king bean seeds which she had been given by another friend of hers. We planted those bean seeds in our little patch, watered them, talked to them and watched them grow. Eventually we harvested many kilo’s of beautiful purple podded beans; selling some and eating lots. When the weather finally started to cool down and the beans started to dry out, we gathered bucket loads of the pods and carefully shucked them in the shed on a rainy day. Saving the seeds of these precious beans to dry out and grow again next year and pass on to others who might want to grow them too.
A simple action; saving seed. A thing that farmers and backyard growers have been doing ever since humans began cultivating crops. Yet today this is a powerful and political action. It is an action that fly’s in the face of the multinational companies like Monsanto that are doing their darndest to control our food chain. These kind of short sighted companies focused on profit rather than planet or people, have contributed significantly to a reduction in crop diversity across the globe. There used to be over 700 varieties of rice grown in India. Each region having specific varieties that best suited their climate and soil. Today there are only 7 varieties of rice grown in India!! In a time of changing climate and unpredictable futures, we need to be nurturing diversity, not massacring it!
Seed saving is an action that puts the right to grow regionally adapted and diverse crops in the hands of the people who grow them. It keeps the power to feed ourselves in our hands, where it belongs. And so we shuck our peas and gleefully shake our wands of seedy lettuce heads amongst the beds and remind ourselves that small is beautiful and best of all…resistance is fertile!
Sas & Mel,
Note: Vandana Shiva is an Indian ecologist, physicist and food sovereignty activist. She has a lot to say about the global seed diversity and ownership situation and also genetically modified foods. Here are a couple of links to some of her talks:
The Power of the seed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj8a0k_THCk
The Future of Food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi1FTCzDSck