Sunday, January 13, 2008

Seed Catalog Season

About this time every winter, seed catalogs start to arrive in numbers. Living in the country on a small hobby farm, we get our share. Though I always enjoy perusing the colorful pages of each and every catalog that arrives, one stands out from all the rest and deserves special mention.

Seeds of Change has been around for almost 20 years, "working hard," in their own words, "to uphold our mission of preserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable, organic agriculture." The company offers its customers certified organic seeds and plants, including a wide variety of heirloom seeds.

Heirloom or heritage seeds are old varieties of vegetables, shrubs and flowers that have been lovingly preserved over the years by dedicated farmers and gardeners worldwide. The practice is facilitated by a number of "seed exchanges," like this one. Seed exchange resources, including a number of useful links, can be found here.

Seeds of Change has long term relationship with the organic farmers who provide their seeds. Several of them are here in the valleys of southern Oregon, and I've had a chance to personally witness their dedication to organic agriculture. The company runs its own organic garden as well, and provides opportunities for six-to-eight interns per year at their New Mexico facility.

We have an organic garden because we are particularly concerned about the centralization of contol in the agriculture segment (ten companies control commercial agriculture) and the continued development and proliferation of genetically modified seeds. It turns out that the government in collusion with the large agribusiness firms have been paving the way for even more GM seeds, and taxpayers are footing the bill. Read about that scandal here. While you're at it, check out the Organic Consumers Assn.

As a result of our concerns, we purchase seeds from companies like Seeds of Change that have taken the "Safe Seed Pledge." And we save seeds, an anathema to Monsanto and those who would make seeds into intellectual property. We are grateful that organizations like Seeds of Change are around to support us and our endeavors in that regard.

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