We have finally become members of the Seed Savers Exchange. After a few years of debating whether to or not, we decided it is one of the most important non-profits to support and be an active part in. Seed Savers Exchange was started in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and her husband Kent Whealy. That first year there were only 29 members and just a small collection of heirloom seeds. Today in 2010 there are over 11,000 Seed Savers members; 704 of which are listed members that offer over 13,000 varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs through the Seed Savers yearbook. The difference between a listed member and an unlisted member is simple. Listed members are actively saving seeds and sharing them with other members through the yearbook. All members are able to acquire seeds through the exchange, but listed members have access to a larger selection of heirloom seeds that need extra attention.
It is my goal to be a listed member by next growing season. I have been saving seeds for about five years now and have had decent success. I have about eight tomato varieties, three bean varieties, three types of hard neck garlic, Jerusalem Artichokes, raspberries and a few other potentials that could be shared. I need to decide how much I can actually share without affecting the amount of food I grow for myself and not exhausting my own seed supply. I am excited for the challenge and to be a part of such a great movement.
There are many companies that are hijacking our shared historic garden genetics. They have taken plants that were and still are sacred to entire communities, and have turned them into monsters. Plants that once only needed clean water, rich soil, and love to grow, now need specific pesticides, herbicides, and petrochemical fertilizers. Farmers who have for generations saved their own seeds are now enslaved to these giant agri-businesses to buy new seed each year or face prosecution and lawsuits.
As seed savers, we are taking an active role against these multi-national companies. Seed saving alone will not stop the atrocities committed against our Earth, our gardens, or our farmers, but it is a good first step. We need to keep educating and inspiring people to examine our lives; to know where our food comes from and who grows it. We need to find new and creative ways of boycotting companies like Monsanto and Cargill and to offer alternatives to them, no matter how small they might be. Support small independent farmers, start saving your own heirloom seeds, and boycott Monsanto! Cheers.