Friday, January 21, 2011
The Revolution will be on television!
many interesting developments in the world of Organic seeds. Seeds of Change closed down their research farm in New Mexico after 15 years of success. They are going the way of the corporate model and consolidating operations in Los Angeles, going from a network of 50 growers to 5 suppliers, most of whom are multi-national corporations with a small organic division. This is an unfortunate development as the network of organic growers well-versed in breeding and selecting varieties for organic systems is an irreplaceable body of knowledge put into action.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Family Famers Seed Cooperative was formed 2 years, seeing the writing on the wall of some of these changes of corporate consolidation in the seed industry coming to organics. Beginning this year we are growing and distributing certified organic vegetable seeds to retail seed companies. Next year we hope to begin to offer seed direct to farmers. Many former Seeds of Change growers are part of our farmer owned co-op, modeled after the very successful Mondragon Cooperative in the Basque region of Spain ()
There is HOPE!
Also on the legal level, many successes are piling up. Namely, successful legal challenges to halting the planting of Monsanto and Syngenta's Roundup Ready Sugar Beets. (check out the blog at the Organic Seed Alliance for the whole scoop .
Now a group of farmers and food security activists are taking up the issue of utility patents on traits in vegetables and agronomic crops. PubPat is leading the charge with many groups lining up to support the Patent offices' unwise decision to issue utility patents on traits such as heat tolerance in Broccoli for which Monsanto (or Syngeta, etc..) has already received a utility patent on. Them having a patent means that they "invented" that trait, which is preposterous of course. So technically if I were to breed and advertise a heat tolerant organic broccoli seed, I would have to lease or pay royalties to them if they were agreeable to that. I am part of a group of plantifs (including OSGATA) that is looking at taking the issue of utility patents to court.
This whole issue is a mess that, the patent office should have never gotten involved with issuing patents on traits on life forms.
ABC National news will be visiting Seven Seeds Farm next week to discuss how GMOs are negatively affecting the organic seed industry and our endeavors specifically. (I'll post a link to the site when I know the time it will be aired)
On a lighter note....
Here is a little preview from the forthcoming 2011 Siskiyou Seeds Catalog:
The Farmer’s Soapbox ……∞full moon January 2011∞
So here is where I get my chance to tell it like it is from my vantage point on this beautiful moonlit mountainside. When the day is over, no one (and everyone) has won, life is not a war or a contest. Rather, it’s a dance. You can’t win a dance. If you try you are missing the point. If you feel like a loser, then you don’t understand the rules; which are, put simply…every breath is a miracle, water and food are magic medicine, do no harm and love is the answer!
The gesture of nature reveals that the dance of life is an incredibly diverse, pulsing, cacophonous art form. Be it bold, or subtle, all of creation is emblazoned with a signature flourish. From the way a vine’s tendrils twist, to the kaleidoscope of colors in flowers, to birdsong, waterfalls, lichens on rocks, cats playing, fungi sporulating, to the taste of a ripe melon and on and on. The art of nature is endless and we are all infinitely blessed to share this life with all the amazing beings and entities that are alive and all so exquisitely beautiful. Our challenge, as I see it is to dance with creation without stomping on her toes. Sometimes when overcome with reverence for the miracle of creation we try and live ever so lightly, like the Jain Buddhists, tip toeing with veils over their mouths, as to not inhale or step on any insects. Admirable, yes, but remember, life is not a contest, and no one is keeping score AND we have got to get our collective rear in gear to fix up the incredible messes that humanity has wrought on our home planet! From the Anthroposophical perspective, humanities destiny is to change the Earth. Remember, that’s why we have thumbs. The more I study natural systems I realize that when we can emulate the art of natural forms in what we do, then we’re really starting to Tango!
PEOPLE! I compel each and every one of us to infuse all that we do with ART, make a statement with your LIFE, live your TRUTH and make it FUN and I assure you that we will see suffering decrease, more smiles, more laughter, more deep introspection into emotions, new friendships made, and PEACE will increase. No wars have been fought over art. As I see it, one of humanities’ most amazing gifts that we bring to this planet is our CREATIVITY, be it through music, dance, sculpture, acting, painting, poetry, well designed and crafted joinery or clothing, or well-selected and bred vegetable varieties and so on. Time is short folks, we must dig deep, save our seeds, keep planting them, share your stories, laugh and love often and in the immortal words of Beat poet and driver of the legendary Prankster bus, Neal Cassady, “Stay High and Keep Moving!”
* Don Tipping, writing from the loft of a newly constructed seed barn made solely from the wood of wind fallen trees milled on the farm, by the warm fire burning from the scrap wood of the aforementioned lumber, sipping a nice cup of nettle/peppermint tea while the full January moon shines through the windows listening to the soothing sounds of my two boys Wali (8) and Jasper (4) sleeping mingling with the soft music of the Grateful Dead playing “Dark Star” from 2/23/73. Ahhhh……