Pages tagged "Seed Saving"
Seeding the Future With Hope
Our co-director, Rhianna Simes, was recently featured in a story by the Mail Tribune, "Seeding the Future With Hope, Celebrating Women’s Work with Plants in the Rogue Valley: Rhianna Simes." This is one part of a series of stories about women gardeners in the Rogue Valley. Read the full story below to learn more about Rhianna and Cultivate Oregon's recent projects.
“We must set ourselves to the task of revitalizing the earth. Regreening the earth, sowing seeds in the desert — that is the path society must follow.”
— Masanobu Fukuoka, “The One-Straw Revolution,” 1978
Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) was a Japanese farmer, philosopher and author who developed and taught natural farming methods. One of his techniques was the ancient practice of making seed balls, in which different kinds of seeds are mixed together, rolled into clay, and then dispersed onto the ground. Nature takes over from there, and the result is a garden or field filled with diverse plants that support wildlife and humans.
Inspired by Fukuoka’s teachings, Phoenix resident Rhianna Simes decided seed balls were an ideal way to help regreen some of the scorched earth in her hometown left by the devastating Almeda fire that occurred in September 2020. A year after the fire, Rhianna organized Sowing Seeds of Hope, a community seed swap that included making seed balls and throwing them into burn areas.
“It was a fun and tangible way for people to celebrate the importance of seeds,” Rhianna recalled. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the plants that come up in the spring.”
Rhianna and co-director Laura Jean have established two programs aimed at increasing access to seeds. Seeds to the People provides donated seeds to low-income and underserved populations in Oregon. Rhianna and Laura are working with the Medford library to establish a free “seed library” with some of the donated seeds. The Local Seeds for Local People program focuses on providing locally grown and adapted seeds to farm programs and school gardens in the Rogue Valley.
“We want to support existing farming programs by providing them with seeds that will thrive in our environment and support local seed growers, and by providing education about the importance of planting and saving locally adapted seeds,” Rhianna said. “Seeds are an amazing bridge — they are part of our past and our future.”
So far, she and Laura have partnered with The Farm at Southern Oregon University, the ACCESS Food Share gardens and mobile food pantry, and the Rogue Valley Farm to School gardens.
Another focus of Cultivate Oregon is to provide education and incentives for local farmers who use regenerative and carbon sequestration practices. They hosted a virtual Soil Symposium in November 2020, aimed at helping landowners learn how to produce healthy soils and mitigate against the effects of climate change. In April 2021, they co-hosted the Living Soil Awards with the Friends of Family Farmers organization to celebrate Oregon “HEROs” (holistic, ecological, regenerative operators).
Rhianna also spends time at state conferences and agriculture-related public hearings to advocate for organic and regenerative farmers, and for open-source seeds.
“Farmers are busy facing layers of challenges,” she said. “It’s hard for them to be in an advocacy position, so we make it a point to show up and advocate for them. We know that without farmers we have no food; without seeds, we have no future.”
📷 Photo by Rhonda Nowak
Seeds to the People!
This pandemic has brought into even sharper focus the need for resilient local food and seed systems--and a run on seeds across the county. Cultivate Oregon is partnering with Rogue Seed Keepers to immediately get seeds (and some starts) into the hands of those that need them, especially connecting heirloom seed varieties like the Three Sisters (corns, beans, squash) with indigenous communities in Oregon, and potentially beyond.
However, we are also working to simply connect those in need with the seeds that we have available, which include many other seed varieties.
Cultivate Oregon and Rogue Seed Keepers have officially become a “seed hub” for the Cooperative Gardens Commission and we received our first shipment of seeds to share! We have additional seeds and starts from our connections with Oregon’s seed growing community. Thank you #coopgardens!
However, because of the timing of getting seeds dispersed into communities for *this* growing season, we are looking for emergency funding for Phase I of this work, which includes the purchase of additional small envelopes for seeds that are currently in bulk, larger envelopes for mailing, postage costs, and potentially small stipends for people packaging and transporting the seeds. Even small donations will help! Please donate right now if you can.
If you're in Oregon and in need of seeds to grow food, or if you would like to volunteer for this project, please contact us here.
Phase II will be working on a seed germination project to determine the viability of large stores of seeds that also will be shared with communities in need. Please stay tuned for more information.
Experts Say Saving Seeds Is An Important Piece Of The Food Sovereignty Puzzle
Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash
The U.S. is in the midst of a gardening renaissance. As the coronavirus pandemic prompts big questions about the future of our food system, people everywhere are buying up seeds, pulling up lawns, building raised beds, and flocking to learn from Master Gardeners.
Most of these new and seasoned gardeners are making careful decisions about what type of plants they want to grow and how to organize the beds, but it’s also a good time to consider another, perhaps more important aspect of food sovereignty: what kind of seeds you’re planting and whether or not you’ll be able to save and share them next year.
To save seeds is to preserve food culture. Heirloom crops wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the gardeners who meticulously grew and saved seeds including the Brandywine tomato, Purple Top White Globe turnip, and many other varieties, passing them on to future generations.
In recent years, many Indigenous groups have also used seed saving as a way to preserve their cultures—as well as important crops like Cherokee White Eagle Corn, the Trail of Tears Bean, and Candy Roaster Squash for future generations.
Perhaps most important in this moment, saving (and sharing) seeds also makes sense economically. “People are having a hard time right now financially,” says Philip Kauth, director of preservation for Seed Savers Exchange. But saving seeds is free and many seed libraries, seed exchanges, and other groups offer packets of seeds at prices that are lower than those offered by retail seed companies. “There are so many economical aspects to it. You don’t have to buy seeds every year and you don’t have to buy produce, depending on the time of the year.”
Panic Buying Comes for the Seeds
This eye-opening and informative story from the New York Times, Panic Buying Comes for the Seeds, is a must-read! Hear from our local Victory Seed Company on what they're experiencing during these challenging times and why it's so important to protect our seeds.
Panic Buying Comes for the Seeds
I knew firsthand how calming gardening can be, especially when you’re not dependent on the food for your immediate survival. Time slows down a little, thoughts meander, and a feeling of flow can arrive, even when the land you’re cultivating is a tiny patch in earshot of a bus stop.
But as I searched for seeds to grow beautifully swirled red and white Chioggia beets, fiery peppers and enough basil to start my own pesto company, website after website warned that my vegetative dreams may be delayed.
"It feels like we are selling toilet paper," Mike Dunton, the founder of The Victory Seed Company, a small seed company focused on horticultural biodiversity told me via email. (He was too busy filling orders to come to the phone.)
I’d been searching his company’s website for glass gem corn, a popping corn that originated with Carl Barnes, who was a part-Cherokee farmer in Oklahoma. In recent years, the corn has become internet famous because of its kaleidoscopic jewel-like appearance. My pandemic prep included buying four pounds of standard yellow popping corn; glass gem corn felt like a way of stepping up my game.
But the website cautioned that all buyers were agreeing to abide by “pandemic ordering terms,” and warned that the current shipping backlog was 18 to 24 days.
Clearly, I was not the only person who felt that the best path through the pandemic was to panic-buy a bunch of seeds."
Noah Schlager, the conservation program manager of a nonprofit seed seller called Native Seeds/SEARCH, said: “I was talking with a colleague who was saying that a lot of elders lived through the Great Depression, and they remember times like this."
“They’ve been saying, ‘This is the time to be saving these seeds and making sure that we can feed ourselves,’” he added.
The mission of Native Seed Search, a nonprofit, is to promote and conserve the crop biodiversity of the arid American southwest. (Native Seed Search is responsible for bringing attention to glass gem corn.) The company sells seeds to the public, “but our priority is seeds for Indigenous communities,” Mr. Schlager said, pointing out that the Navajo Nation is already suffering because of the new coronavirus.
“They’re oftentimes the last place where real aid, or FEMA support, or anything really gets handed out to people,” he said."
Local Oregon Seed Sources - 2019
Indigenous Peoples Are Vital for Food System Stability
This International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, August 9, is an opportunity to celebrate the ecological and cultural value of indigenous foodways. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared the day to encourage the world to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples. Celebrating their cultures means preserving their time-tested farming practices, agricultural knowledge, and traditional crops that can help address global climate change and food insecurity.
Of the roughly 250,000 plant species known to humankind, an estimated 30,000 are edible and approximately 7,000 have at some point been used as food. However, more than 90 percent of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields during the past 100 years; the varieties left that build our food system are predicted to suffer under climate change. The biodiversity maintained on indigenous peoples’ farms may be the key to building resilient food systems that can withstand changing weather patterns, meet nutritional and cultural needs of communities, and rehabilitate degraded ecosystems.
However, popularizing traditional crops in the international market can produce varying health and income effects for indigenous communities. Protecting indigenous peoples requires sustainably and ethically sourcing these crops from companies with social missions, such as fair trade organizations improving the lives of indigenous farmers.
Food Tank is highlighting 30 historically and agriculturally significant fruits, vegetables, and grains from regions across the globe. These food crops can thrive under a variety of harsh environmental conditions, help to rehabilitate degraded landscapes, and provide farmers and their communities a range of health and environmental benefits.
Photo from Flickr.
Why Should You Care About Seed Diversity? Here are 7 Reasons
Traditional seed varieties have disappeared at an alarming rate - but there's still a chance to preserve the astonishing genetic diversity that remains on the world's farms. Here's why it matters.
In the meantime, a few of grain crops have come to dominate U.S. agriculture. Corn or soybeans are now planted on more than 50 percent of our nation’s arable acreage. About 90 percent of those acres are comprised of just a handful of genetically-engineered seeds varieties. In fact, there are just 12 varieties of corn remaining at the USDA’s National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado, compared to the 307 available at the turn of the 20th century.
The decline of seed diversity is a result of the relentless effort to industrialize agriculture. While this approach has in many cases improved yields, it has not been without consequences. The good news is that today, hundreds of seed and crop preservation groups across the world are working to revive lost and endangered varieties. These seed activists believe the genetic diversity of crops to be one of humanity’s greatest assets. Here’s why.
- Flavor Matters
- The Earth Is Diverse
- The Future Is Uncertain
- Staying a Step Ahead of Pests and Disease
- Extending the Harvest
- Spreading Out the Risk
- Every Seed Has a Story to Tell
Photo from Pexels.
Thanks for coming to our Spring Seed Swap!
A big thank you to those who came out for our Spring Seed Swap on Saturday. It was nice to have time to chat with the pros about the ins and outs of seed saving and growing food in general. A huge thank you to Hardy Seeds, Duane Elvin and his mom— Baker Creek’s Local Advisors—and Evan of Portland Seedhouse for all of the great seeds.
Updated 2018 Oregon Seed Sources Graphic
Please enjoy and share our updated list of Oregon seed companies offering organic, heirloom, non-GMO, open-pollinated, and open-source seeds.
Being as there are numerous small farms in Oregon that offer seeds and bulbs, we’re sure we’ve overlooked some of them. If you have a farm, or know of a farm that offers seeds of this variety that should be listed as a resource, please contact us! And let us know of any corrections.
We're a small group of volunteers working to create a robust local food system and part of that process has been to update this chart annually to help support Oregon farmers and seed breeders, as well as the environment, pollinators, biodiversity, and the nutritious food that flows from this nexus.
Speaking of volunteers—we're always looking for more! If you'd like to submit stories, interview local farmers, fundraise, create educational resources, table, or anything else that you are good at, please contact us (www.cultivateoregon.org). You likely know us from the Yes on 92 campaign, and campaigns in Southern Oregon and Benton County. Our focus is to build strength from the ground up and champion Oregon farmers who cultivate food in a way that is respectful to their neighbors and the land.
In full disclosure, Chris Hardy of Hardy Seeds is on our Steering Committee. However, Hardy Seeds and the other seed companies are listed not out of any sort of transactional affiliation with Cultivate Oregon, but because we want to promote them as a resource for people who want to support non-GMO and organic local seed stocks.
Here's the list:
- Nichols Garden Nursery (Albany, Oregon) www.nicholsgardennursery.com
- Wild West Seed (Albany, OR) www.wildwestseed.com
- The Thyme Garden (Alsea, OR) www.thymegarden.com
- Hardy Seeds (Ashland, OR) *website coming soon!
- Restoration Seeds: 100% Open Pollinated (Ashland, OR) www.restorationseeds.com
- Peace Seedlings (Corvallis, OR) peaceseedslive.blogspot.com
- Folly Farm (Cove, OR) follyfarmoregon.com
- Territorial Seed Company (Cottage Grove, OR) www.territorialseed.com
- Log House Plants (Cottage Grove, OR) loghouseplants.com/plants *not really a seed company, but a great wholesale nursery that shares similar values.
- Victory Seed Company (Molalla, Oregon) www.victoryseeds.com
- Eloheh Farm (Newberg, OR) www.elohehfarm.com
- Wild Garden Seed (Philomath, OR) www.wildgardenseed.com
- Portland Seedhouse (Portland, OR) www.portlandseedhouse.com
- Pro Time Lawn Seed (Portland, OR) ptlawnseed.com
- Adaptive Seeds (Sweet Home, OR) www.adaptiveseeds.com
- Green Journey Seeds (Veneta, OR) www.localharvest.org/store/M59450
- Goodwin Creek Gardens (Williams, OR) www.goodwincreekgardens.com
- Siskiyou Seeds (Williams, OR) www.siskiyouseeds.com
- Strictly Medicinal Seeds (Williams, OR) www.strictlymedicinalseeds.com
Join us for our Winter Seed Swap! July 16th
Please join Cultivate Oregon for a winter garden seed swap!
When: Sunday, July 16th 2 to 5pm
Where: The Garden and Carriage House, Portland OR.
Grow a winter garden to harvest from or to overwinter for an early spring harvest. We’ll share seed varieties especially well-suited for the Pacific Northwest. Cultivate Oregon will have seeds on hand to distribute, but feel free to bring some to share and swap. We’ll also have a limited amount of supplies to plant seeds and will discuss when to plant the sprouted starts and how to harvest from a winter garden.