Thursday, August 23, 2012

Occupy the Seed!

Permaculturalist, Gerald Anderson, from Conway, Arkansas, just sent this link to an amazing event, which we can all participate in. OCCUPY THE SEED! Thanks Gerald for sharing!

Go to: Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action for more information....note I just copied over the following information from International Permaculture Day....please visit Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action for live links....

Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action – how to participate:

There will be updates and additions to the bullet points above. Check this page for those updates.
Vandana’s Message to Permaculturists
Dear Permaculturists,
There can be no permanent agriculture without the permanence, diversity and renewability of seed. Unlike industrial monocultures, permaculture depends on the co-operation between different species – plant and animals, perennial and annual.
The seeds of this diversity are at the heart of an agriculture of permanence. This is why you have an extremely important role to play in the Global Campaign for Seed Freedom both to save the diversity of seeds as well as our freedom to save and exchange seeds. Everywhere new laws are being imposed that make seed diversity, seed freedom and seed exchange illegal.
That is why I invite you to play a leading role in the Fortnight for Seed Freedom from 2nd October (Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary) to 16th October 2012 (World Food Day). In the spirit of Gandhi’s satyagraha, we plan to focus especially on the 2nd October (Gandhi’s birth anniversary) as a call for civil disobedience against unjust seed laws, to declare our Seed Freedom.
I enclose some ideas for actions for the Seed Freedom Fortnight [above] and look forward to planning common strategies and receiving from you a calendar of actions for the Fortnight so that together we can reclaim our Seed Freedom. — Vandana Shiva, 17th August 2012
Invitation to join the Global Citizens Alliance for Seed Freedom
Dear Seed keepers and Seed warriors,
On behalf of Navdanya, I write to invite you to become part of a Global Citizens Alliance for Seed Freedom – the start of a global campaign to alert citizens and governments around the world on how precarious our seed supply has become – and as a consequence how precarious our food security has become.
We started Navdanya 25 years ago to protect our seed diversity and farmers’ rights to save, breed, and exchange seed freely, in the context of the emerging threats of the TRIPS Agreement (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which opened the door to the introduction of GMOs, patents on seed and the collection of royalties. A Monsanto representative later stated “In drafting these agreements we were the patient, diagnostician, physician all in one”.Corporations defined a problem – and for them the problem was farmers saving seed. They offered a solution, and the solution was the introduction of patents and intellectual property rights on seed, making it illegal for farmers to save their seed. Seed as a common good became a commodity of private seed companies, traded on the open market.
Today, the threat is greater. Consider the following:
  • The last twenty years have seen a very rapid erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty, and the rapid concentration of control over seed by a very small number of giant corporations
  • Acreage under GM corn, soya, canola, cotton has increased dramatically.
  • Besides displacing and destroying diversity, patented GMO seeds are also undermining seed sovereignty, the rights of farmers to grow their own seeds and to save and exchange seed.
  • In countries across the world, including in India, new seed laws are being introduced which enforce compulsory registration of seed, thus making it impossible for small farmers to grow their own diversity, and forcing them into dependency on giant seed corporations.
  • Genetic contamination is spreading – India has lost the cotton seeds because of contamination from Bt. Cotton and Mexico, the historical cradle of corn, has lost eighty percent of its corn varieties and these are but two instances of loss of local and national seed heritage.
  • After contamination, Biotech Seed Corporations sue farmers with patent infringement cases. More than 80 groups came together recently in the US and filed a case to prevent Monsanto from suing farmers whose seed had been contaminated.
  • As farmer’s seed supply is eroded, and farmers become dependent on patented GMO seed, the result is indebtedness. Debt created by Bt. Cotton in India has pushed farmers to suicide.
  • India has signed a U.S. /India knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, with a representative of Monsanto on the Board. States are being pressurized to sign agreements with Monsanto. An example is the Monsanto Rajasthan memorandum of understanding (MOU) under which Monsanto would obtain intellectual property rights (IPRs) on all genetic resources as well as research on seed carried out under the MOU. It was only after a campaign led by Navdanya and a “Monsanto Quit India” Bija Yatra that the government of Rajasthan cancelled the MOU.
  • Pressure by Monsanto on the US Government and the joint pressure of both on governments across the world is a major threat to the future of seed and the future of food.
  • Wikileaks exposed the US government’s intentions to proliferate the use of GMOs in Africa and Pakistan. Pressure to use GMOs imposed by US government representatives is a direct effort to support giant biotech business and to expand their markets.
These trends demonstrate a total control over the seed supply and a destruction of the very foundation of agriculture. We are witnessing a seed emergency at a global level.
The disappearance of our biodiversity and of our seed sovereignty is creating a major crisis for agriculture and food security around the world. We must act before it is too late.
Seeds are the first link in the food chain and the repository of life’s future evolution. As such, it is our inherent duty and responsibility to protect them and to pass them on to future generations. The growing of seed and the free exchange of seed among farmers has been the basis to maintaining biodiversity and our food security.
I am sure you will sense the emergency as deeply as I do, and feel the need to join forces to reclaim our seed and to protect our Seed Diversity and Seed Freedom.
Let us collectively make 2012 the year to “Save our Seeds” and “Reclaim our Seeds as a Commons” – from privatization through patents, from compulsory registration laws, from seed monopolies, from genetic erosion and contamination.
Let us plan common strategies and common actions so that the voices of the 99% in issues related to seed become louder than the bullying by Monsanto and the other four Agricultural Seed- Biotech Giants, who are determined to control the world’s food systems by stealing our seed and our freedoms.
Please send your ideas, your hopes, your dreams so we build a strong movement to “Occupy the Seed”.
I look forward to joining forces with you to make 2012 the year of the Liberation of the Seed and to help ensure a sustainable and just future for generations to come.
In Solidarity,
Vandana Shiva

To get involved, contact:

Global Movement to Defend Seed Freedom
info (at)
Two documents that provide an in-depth understanding of the seed issue are:
  1. The Manifesto on the Future of Seeds (2004), available in several languages. Its principles were the basis to the Regional Law of Tuscany on Seed heritage that same year.
  2. The GMO Emperor has no Clothes: false promises, failed technologies – published by Navdanya International last year together with an alliance of citizens movements (see below). The report made evident the severe threat to seed from erosion, pollution and privatization.
Seed freedom is food freedom: Act Now!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Seed Story Broadcasts from Conway, Arkansas

The following seed stories were shared during the Seed Broadcast event at Conserving Arkansas's Agricultural Heritage (CAAH!) Seed Lab at the University of Central Arkansas, in Conway, Arkansas. This Seed Broadcast event was also co-hosted by several other local, Arkansas organizations working hard to promote local food and seed sovereignty.

Nancy Duke shares a seed story about a 60 year old jar of butter beans, she found in an abandoned family garage.  These beans came from her husband's, great aunt Zena Alexander's pea patch from around the 1965.

Angela Gardner, shares seed stories from her community garden and Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society (CANAS).

William McClintock shares a seed story about his garden located in Cabot, Arkansas and shares his joy to plant anywhere and eat the best food ever, from his garden.

Dr. Brian Campbell, faculty at Central Arkansas University, in Conway, Arkansas, shares seed stories from his garden and from the Conserving Arkansas Agricultural Heritage! (CAAH!).

Gerald Anderson shares a seed story from Conway, Arkansas about his permaculture dreams at his Summer Berry Farm in Tilly, Arkansas and a story about his family millet.

Lynita Langley-Ware shares a seed story about the Grow Garden and their seed saving efforts at the Faulkner County Museum, in Conway, Arkansas. She also recalls the memory her grandmother's seed saving efforts and the way we are now relearning how to do this once again.

Bryan Mader, McKenzie Earnest, and Michael McHalffey share a seed story about working with the Russellville Community Market, their work at seed swaps, and building a gardening and seed saving community among the local college students.

Michael McHaffley shares a seed story about his family's farming efforts and his desire to create an experimental educational farming opportunity for other people to learn from.

Thank you everyone for sharing your seed stories!
You can also find these seed stories and more from around the country by checking out the Seed Story Broadcast page.

Conserving Arkansas's Agricultural Heritage

Listening to Seed Stories in the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station
Seed Broadcast visited the University of Central Arkansas, Seed Lab, on August 7, and met up with folks from Conserving Arkansas's Agricultural Heritage (CAAH!), the Arkansas Local Network, the Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society (CANAS), the Faulkner Public Library, local permaculturalists, farmers, gardeners, and a really old jar of white beans, brought in by Nancy Duke.

 Dr. Brian Campbell discussed how the CAAH! - Seed Lab and Seed Library operates and also described the challenges of community seed saving and sharing: asking others to contribute to this local seed action. CAAH!, helps regional communities start their own yearly seed swaps and promotes growing, saving, and sharing of local heirloom varieties. They have also been busy creating a regional seed library, as well as, producing feature length videos and organizing educational workshops. Check out their latest video Seed Swap. And keep an eye out for more, coming soon.

As a group, we held a round table discussion, where everyone shared thoughts from their gardens and concerns over the drought.  The entire region, much like the entire country is suffering under extremely dry conditions. This looked like the worst yet, with leaves from trees shrivelling, turning brown, and dropping.  People also shared another major environmental concern: fracking. With seismic quakes rumbling in the area, local concern and outrage has stopped the industry for now, until further study can be conducted.  On top of this, is the inevitable fear that water sources will be polluted.

Nancy Drakes, very old jar of white beans....
Even when facing issues like these, which seem bigger than any one person can deal with, the conversation returned to what is being done. Planting, growing food, digging in the dirt, saving seeds, finding seeds long thought lost, and sharing a wealth of care and commitment. It was said, that the only way we can grow stronger and more resilient is by doing. Just like plants adapting to climate change, pursuits at growing our own food, are only possible by continuing to plant, save, and share seeds of resistance.

Angela Gardner, a local gardener, loves popcorn, and loves to grow, save, and share these stories.
Dr. Campbell generously shared several of his published articles on Ozark biodiversity, traditions, and open pollinated seed swaps, check these out below:

"Closest to Everlastin'": Ozark Agricultural Biodiversity and Subsistence Traditions

Open-Pollinated Seed Exchange: Renewed Ozark Tradition as Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation

Thank you Brian, Angela, Michael, Gerald, Nancy, W.C., Bryan, and McKenzie!
The Seed Stories from Conway are coming. So check back in the next couple weeks for audio Seed Stories from CAAH!

Also, coming soon is the next Seed Story Broadcast, from the farm of Herb Culver, an Ozark seed saver, in Deer, Arkansas.

Monday, August 6, 2012

University of Central Arkansas Seed Lab

Seed Broadcast will be at the University of Central Arkansas, in Conway, AR, tomorrow from 1 pm - 4 pm, hosting Seed Story Broadcasting along with Conserving Arkansas's Agricultural Heritage (CAAH!), Arkansas Local Food Network, and the Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society. Stop by, check out the broadcasting station, and share some seed stories.

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Seed Stories from Montpelier

Here are the latest Seed Story Broadcasts from Montpelier, VT. You can find these and more by visiting the Seed Story Broadcast page.

Mary Telfer talks about her first adventure with seeds she collected and planted from store bought peppers.
John Waldo shares stories from his garden which is a collaborative adventure with his friend Roy. He also talks about the bean seeds he was given by another friend, making these into a delicious chili.
Jeff Weinstein, a local commercial soup maker, shares his thoughts on local food economy, seeds, and diversity.