Local Seeds: The Missing Piece in the Local Food Picture

What comes to mind when you think of “local food”? For many people, this term conjures images of farmers markets brimming with colorful veggies or neighbors tending to plots in community gardens. Some may think of the benefits local food has for sustainability, environmental health, and climate change. Still others focus on the nourishment and wellbeing for their families that fresh, organically grown food provides.

These are all important and relevant pieces of the local food picture. But something vital is missing: local seeds. In fact, locally grown seeds are the foundation to a healthy, localized food system. This is not a new idea. For millennia, cultures around the world have farmed sustainably by saving their own seeds. Like so many ancient traditions, this practice has been largely forgotten in our modern lives and often gets overlooked by local food proponents.

But a new awareness is sprouting. People everywhere are connecting with seed saving and reintegrating these timeless traditions into their community food systems. Take for example the seed library movement, which has spread like bindweed across the United States in recent years. Hundreds of communities now steward their own growing collections of local, freely available seeds. Located in public libraries and other common spaces, these community-supported initiatives represent a new and exciting evolution of the local food movement—one that views seeds as the source of true resilience and community health.

There are many reasons that local seeds are being embraced by local food advocates. For one thing, seeds that are saved and replanted each season adapt to their environment and yield healthier, hardier plants. This in turn makes our food systems more resilient and diverse. When small farmers save their own seed or source it locally (rather than from big seed companies whose seeds are grown thousands of miles away) their crops perform better and require less inputs such as toxic pesticides and expensive fertilizers. Rejoining the ritual of seed saving benefits us spiritually as well. When we connect with nature in this intimate and co-creative process, we nourish our souls along with our bodies.

Those that want to begin their seed saving journey can visit their nearest seed library to learn practical skills or get involved as a volunteer. Organizations such as Seed Savers Exchange, Native Seeds/SEARCH, and the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance are great sources for information (and seeds!) to get started. Similar organizations and seed saving groups exist in other regions, so be sure to explore your local resources.

So the next time you think of “local food”, remember that it all starts with locally grown, saved, and shared seeds. Better yet, start growing and saving your own! You’ll be connecting with an elegant and ancient tradition—and leading the way for a vibrant, healthy, and delicious future.

Going to Seed Tour 2015 – An RMSA Travelogue

Published October 4, 2015

A central part of our mission at the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance is to explore and connect with communities throughout our region to build a network of local “seed hubs.” So what better way to get to know our fellow seedheads than embark on a three-week trip across the beautiful Mountain West?

Taking Flight: Riggins, Idaho
Our journey began just outside of Riggins, Idaho with a visit to a new friend and inspiring seed researcher, “Thumbs” Heath, a Ph.D. candidate in plant genetics at UC Davis. Thumbs escaped to the Idaho backcountry some years ago when he became disillusioned with the direction the university was headed.

Sourcing Our Seeds

Recently published in the Colorado Gardener Education Issue 2015.

     One of the best things about winter is opening up a new seed catalog and poring over the array of beautiful offerings and photos. Perusing the catalogs not only offers hope for a warmer, more delicious and inviting future but can be an adventure in seed education as well.  Many of us put organic at the top of our list of important considerations when purchasing seeds, but do we think about where those seeds are being grown and how they get to the seed companies? The term organic now has a pretty complicated set of standards associated with it and can only be applied by farmers and producers who are certified through an independent agency approved by the USDA. The National Organic Program (NOP) has a 5% tolerance level for pesticide residues detected in organic produce. No GMO residues are allowed in food or seed production; however, no federal agency, including the EPA or USDA, has established tolerance levels for the inadvertent presence of GMOs so it is an ambiguous rule at best. Organic farmers are required to source organic seeds for their crops if they can be found. If not, non-treated, non-GMO seed is acceptable...

Download the entire article here:  http://www.rockymountainseeds.org/images/pdfs/SourcingOurSeedsCoGardener.pdf

Urban Farm Podcast Bill McDorman

 

Chat With An Expert:

In this podcast, we chat with seed expert Bill McDorman on Feb. 7th, 2017 about what is happening right now in the Southwest region with seed saving, including the upcoming Seed Summit and other seed events in the region. Bill shares a few insights and a couple interesting stories about some unique and really cool seeds.

Urban Farm Podcast

http://www.urbanfarm.org/blog/2017/02/07/chat-with-an-expert-bill-mcdorman/

 

 

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Who We Are

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening seed and food security in our region.

Our mission is to assure a diverse and abundant supply of seeds for the Rocky Mountain West through networking, education and helping establish community-based models of seed stewardship.

 

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  belle (@) rockymountainseeds.org
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  PO Box 4736 • Ketchum, ID 83340