Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Seed Underground: a growing revolution to save food

Hello everyone,

Have you had loads of snow?  Is it sunny yet where you are?  I hope you are all well.

I'm all excited because I've just gotten a wonderful new book out of the library: The Seed Underground: a growing revolution to save food, by Janisse Ray, published 2012 by the ever wonderful Chelsea Green (

I'm only 30 pages in ... just finished Ray's short history of industrial agriculture, which is a succinct and clear overview of how farming changed from the 1930s onward, much to do with the types of seeds available.  Of course, she mentions the loss of biodiversity from hybrid and genetically modified seed, and the loss of control by farmers as they have purchased seed from ever-growing companies whose main interest is selling chemicals.

Ray uses a term I've never heard before: landedness.  It seems to mean a blend of living on and making one's living from the land, from land where one grows food and is in charge of the decisions that grow that food.  I like that.  It's sort of "terroire" for people.

Ray's book is going to be a call-out to people to be building, to have hope.  Here's what she says in her  introduction:

I want to tell you about the most hopeful thing in the world.  It is a seed.  In the era of dying, it is all life.  Every piece of information necessary to that plant for its natural time on earth is encoded, even though the world is changing and new information will be needed.  But we don't know what is in a seed; its knowledge is invisible, encased, secret.  A seed can contain any number of surprises. A seed can contain a whole tree encrypted in its sealed vault.  Even with climate change there will be seeds that have all the wisdom they and we need.

There's something literary in Ray's writing.  I have to check, but I think she is a poet.  Her book is stories about her own experiences and meeting with people who grow food and save seed.  There's going to be compost.  There's going to be wilt.  And there's going to be colour and flavour and hope.

I'm really looking forward to getting on with this book, which also has a long list of resources - people and organizations and businesses - involved with seed saving.  Gardeners and farmers are practical.  They know you don't do it alone.

For right now though, I'm going outside to shovel snow!

Best regards, as always!

Why's Woman

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