Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seeds Of The Past... Keys To The Future

Little cotyledons on the first 'Purple Maize'
The United States government is involved in saving seeds and has been for many years - but today, few folks know about these collections - we have ordered wheat seeds from them which didn't get planted this year in time, but next year, we hope to grow out an open pollinated white wheat that used to be grown in California.  If that is successful, we might begin to experiment with wheat as well as corn - but right now, we've got our hands - and garden space - filled with these corn projects. 

We have nicknamed the current corn project - a stable purple dent corn - Purple Maize.  Most of these projects, in our private notes, have silly names.  So far, we have about 70% germination of the corn planted out a couple weeks ago.  On order are husk bags and silk bags (from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ) and a great niece is stitching up a pollination apron!  With any luck we'll get to practice hand pollination on some of the sweet corn we have getting ready to flower out in the Garden now - and that'll make us all experts by the time my corn is ready for its controlled pollination. 

If you feel so inclined, look online at the resources offered by the USDA - they have a LOT of good stuff in storage.  We don't think we can trust the USDA with all this material for a long time - they have shown very poor judgement as regards to the proliferation of GMOs and their unwillingness to stand up for the consumer (and taxpayer) in how they allot their resources.  It seems to a lot of us, that we need to exploit these resources as thoroughly as we can now and get a lot of this material back into the hands of people who really will conserve them and grow them out lest some Monsanto-owned governmental individual suddenly dumps these seeds into a landfill at some point.  This material from the past IS the key to our future and may well be the only resource we have that will keep us fed in the coming decades.

I hope some of this blog's readers will take up the challenge and keep these old varieties of grains and vegetables alive by growing them out!



  1. I think you're doing a great job there in LA, but I do wonder why you are so down on the NPGS. They sent you the seeds, didn't they, and you didn't even plant some of them. You're worrying about GMOs and somehow conflating that with the way the NPGS operates. I'm really glad you are willing to "exploit" the seeds they sent you, and I think that the best way you can ensure the future of all the other agricultural biodiversity conserved by the NPGS would be to support their efforts publicly, rather than condemning the entire USDA.

  2. Hang on a minute. They told you what seeds they have. They sent you the seed you wanted. They have maintained it, ready for your query and thousands of others like it, for years. What else exactly do you want from USDA?

  3. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the conservation work of the USDA greatly. The NPGS is a wonderful resource for all of us and they did send me seeds - as they have done for decades to any US citizen who asks for them. I used the word 'exploit' (World English Dictionary: to make the best use of) in the sense that we must fully utilize this resource and not allow it to languish. The NPGS is one of the most valuable services offered by the USDA.
    On the other hand, I stand by my comments that the USDA has been far too compliant as regards GMOs. The NPGS is a part of the USDA and as such could be closed in a 'cost-saving' move at some point. I believe the USDA works to serve the multi-national corporations much more than it works to serve the American consumer. I said I don't trust that this marvelous resource will remain and therefore NOW is the time to use it as fully as possible.
    Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my position:
    1. I think NPGS is probably one of the best things that our government has ever done; I support it publicly as being a service that can truly benefit us today as well as our children and grandchildren.
    2. I don't trust that they will continue to do it, funding could be cut to the point to ruin the collections because the USDA does the bidding of Monsanto and the other agri-business companies to the detriment of other programs.
    3. We should make a tremendous effort to USE these resources to their fullest and return some of these genes to the marketplace before something happens to them.
    4. And the list of what else I want from the USDA is long, but most of that will never get through Congress in our present political climate.
    I hope this clarifies my viewpoint and what I intended to get across. Thank you for reading and commenting.