Saving Seeds and Sovereignty of the Farmer

Harald Hoven demonstrating collecting lettuce seed.



One of the more important issues from Harald Hoven’s seed saving workshop at the Medicine for Earth and Man Biodynamic Conference this last weekend in Fair Oaks, California, was that of farmer sovereignty. In learning to grow and collect our own seed, we are exercising our human right to collect seed and replant it, knowing the integrity of the plant will endure. We are not controlled by seed companies, the most extreme being those corporations such as Monsanto whose GMO seeds are patented and laced with the poisons and residues of herbicides used to grow them and to protect them. (Once my brother’s ornery pig got into the seed corn and died from the rat poison in the seed. This rat poison then goes into the soil, as well as onto anything touching it.) You cannot collect seed from the hybrids offered by most seed companies and expect to grow the same plant. You will get any number of variations used to propagate it. To keep growing the same plant, you have to keep buying that particular seed.

Collecting seed is work, however. That is another thing I learned!  You can’t just collect open pollinated seeds and expect to propagate the same plant, especially if you have several varieties of the same species of the plant in bloom and it is pollinated by insects or by the wind. (Self pollinated plants such as tomatoes or beans are much easier.) Learning how particular plants are pollinated and how to adapt growing them so that you get what you are working for, is critical. It involves  consciousness, the farmer truly acting as quintessential. The garden becomes a laboratory, a school, in which nature teaches the interweaving of insect and plant, of wind’s part, as well as what grows best in your particular place on earth.

Collecting seed to replant is not for everyone, but it is important to know that where you spend your money for seed is important. It matters if you buy from a seed company that is putting out hybrid seeds they own, or if you are buying open pollinated seeds, seeds that have been tended for their trueness and that carry life that will be replicated. Life is tended by growers, not owned by them. At least, this is the issue you vote on when you buy open pollinated or hybrid seeds.