Living in Northern New Mexico, where the land is generally and openly acknowledged as sacred, there is a reverence for the land and for the seed that is palpable. Seed exchanges are commonplace. The entire community gathers, telling stories of planting, of fruit trees caught, mid-bloom, by the late March frost and sharing seeds from their gardens or their farms with others seeking hardy, local plants that can withstand the Northern New Mexico weather. As a young man, my husband Leonardo planted sugar cane from the purplish-red seeds his grandmother had carefully saved for over fifteen years. The neighbors stared at the now unfamiliar crop, and then began to approach him, questioning what it was. It grew tall and strong, over seven and a half feet tall, reminiscent of the sugar cane the Spaniards had gown to supply sugar for their settlements and for trade since their arrival in New Mexico.
The fact that few could recognize the sugar cane, though it had been a local staple less than 20 years before, underscores how quickly a generation can lose valuable knowledge once the need for a particular crop is gone. Today, the vast majority of Americans have lost the knowledge of how to grow and produce food. We, for the most part, have handed that responsibility over to someone else or, more likely, to someTHING else. Giant companies like Monsanto count on this disconnection to facilitate their plan to control the seed of the planet. Either the typical person has no idea that these companies are buying up patents on our seeds and staging a food coup to wrest control over the seed from farmers all over the world, or they hear it and dismiss it as unimportant or irrelevant.
The time will come when we need to regain these skills. To learn the personality of the land and weather again, to learn how to read the soil, to share seed with our neighbors as well as planting tips and soil secrets. Perhaps you will be the one in your community growing medicinal plants and distilling them for your neighbors while they supply you with corn and eggs. Success will depend upon your relationships with your neighbors, not fierce Yankee independence. Sustainability will be—IS—the key. Self sustaining practices as well as planetary sustaining practices. It is time to restore that age old bond between humans and the natural world and not let anyone tell you it is “unimportant” or “irrelevant.”
It is time we stand up for farming policy that honors local food production and respects the integrity of natural food. There is NOTHING natural about a Genetically Modified Organism (like corn or potatoes) that has within its cell structure man implanted pesticides designed to ward of insects, bacteria and fungi. I remember one of the famers interviewed by Michael Pollen for his fabulous book, The Botany of Desire. He broke down crying while discussing his farming practices over dinner with Michael, saying he HATED the way he had to farm. He remembered how his grandfather had farmed and yearned for that simpler time when the Monsantos of the world did not dictate how and what we would plant and would legally prohibit him from saving seed from the crops for use the next season.
If you are not aware of seed sharing opportunities in your community perhaps this will inspire you to create them!
Missed the part 1 of this blog post? Read here.