It's a good time of year to reflect. And it's excellent for the Seed Library of Los Angeles' members to reflect at this time of year because today, the 4th of December is the library's 'birthday.' On December 4th, 2010 the first group of people met on the patio of The Learning Garden and began to formulate what everyone sees today as this marvelous seed library serving the Los Angeles area - which continues to grow monthly!
From twenty four members present at that first meeting, we have over 800 members today, and many of those original members not only serve on our board but are some of our most able seed savers. We are stable organization with officer elections in January. We have more varieties of seeds we can handle and we have some wonderful success stories of saving varieties of seeds from extinction. SLOLA has taken on some of our own breeding and countless talks have been given all over Los Angeles to audiences of 3rd graders to groups of elderly folks. This last month we spoke at Otis College of Art and Design on saving seeds, Santa Monica College debating the efficacy of GMOs and UC Santa Barbara about saving seeds. The message of seed saving and diversity is getting out with even non-gardeners and farmers becoming aware that our food supply is at risk because our seed supply is at risk.
Seed libraries have blossomed all over the United States - they are something local citizens can do and a way to participate in our saving our seeds from patents and the industrial model of growing food from manipulated genetics and poisons. Seed libraries are the result of the innate knowledge that all gardening is local and diversity is what will prevent starvation, not patented seeds.
In fact we might be a little too popular and maybe doing enough good in the world that we've pissed some big boy agriculture companies off. Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (DoA) forced a newly forming library to shut down because they were not conforming to the seed laws imposed on commercial ventures; Maryland's DoA concurred and threatened to apply the same approach to any seed libraries formed in that state; Nebraska's DoA served notice on the seed libraries in that state to cease and desist.
And Big Ag pulled their overalls up high and struck in the middle of the night. In Sacramento, California in the last session of the year, our legislatures passed AB 2470, one of the most onerous of bills we've seen come down in modern times. AB 2470 does a number of things, all of them bad. I have a lot more to say about AB 2470 that will wait until after the first of the year, but today, on the fourth anniversary of SLOLA, I only want to deal with one: the provision that makes it illegal for municipalities to make seed laws without the approval of the state's secretary of agriculture. This law takes effect this coming January 1st, 2015. If we want to have Los Angeles be a sanctuary for non-GMO seeds, we HAVE to have our bill passed by city council before December 31 to be grand-fathered in.
We are calling on all gardeners in Los Angeles to please come to LA City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 09, to stand in solidarity with us and have Los Angeles declared a GMO Free Zone! Meet us in council chambers, on the third floor, in City Hall between Spring and Main Streets and Temple and First Streets - entrance on Main. If you oppose GMOs and have done nothing this year to oppose them, now is your chance to redeem and deguilt yourself! We want, we really want, that chamber filled with supporters!
This law will only be applied to seeds and to plants. It will protect the plants grown in Los Angeles from genetically engineered pollen, so your corn and your beets and chard cannot be contaminated and can remain untainted. This law will not change anything in your grocery store, because we cannot legislate that. It only applies to seeds and to the plants grown in LA. Because there are currently no - or very little - GMO crops grown in the city, the economic hit will be slight but the economic boon could prove to be very lucrative!
With all the motions and laws that LA City Council has already passed, this law will be a substantial underpinning of the nascent urban agriculture movement in Los Angeles. With produce that is legally protected from genetic alteration, our produce will have more cache. And every dollar spent on buying LA grown produce will stay in the community - unlike fast food, that money will contribute to LA and not to some far off corporate headquarter entity. We build a better Los Angeles - and the people growing the food, entrepreneurs employ other Angelenos to help them and that is more money circulating in LA's economy.
If food and gardens are important to you, please come to City Council this coming Tuesday morning, December 09 and stand in solidarity with us as the motion is introduced - if you have a garden apron, or garden shoes, wear them! Be a gardener among gardeners pointing the way towards the new future of food in Los Angeles and the World!
And all the blessings of the season to you and yours - and may your gardens be bountiful and delicious and forever GMO Free!
More can be found with these two blogs: