If you are feeling in this circus of crises that our response to the common plight of a planet in an un-natural spin defines us as a society, and that the scar tissues formed over the wounded parts of ourselves and our lands— then perhaps you will resonate with the campaign undertaken by a number of our favorite organic seed companies to send free seeds down to the farmers and gardeners of Puerto Rico.
YOUR EXTRA seeds, or your mothers’ and aunties and favorite foodie customers extra seeds— are most valued by the Puerto Ricans struggling to rebuild their resilience.
If you have a list of folks or a blog or an instagram, or a CSA pickup shed— perhaps you can post this information so that more benevolent biodiverse, material and solidaritous energy can flow down to the hurricane islands.
Seeds (non-gmo, nutritionally dense crops, fast growing, low maintenance, pest or disease resistant, and easy to save seeds) can be sent directly to the farmers on the ground in Puerto Rico via this mailing address:
Misleading title perhaps… but for those of you that are curious about seed production, consider checking out this series of tutorials by Martina Widmer et Sylvie Seguin from the Coopérative Longomaï and the Forum Civique Européen.
Beautifully captured, this series takes you through all the stages of seed production for 32 different crops.
There are a ton of great books out there on seed saving, but it can be a bit of a challenge to find such consistent and well documented video tutorials.
And if you want a little more inspiration for why you might consider saving seed, have a look at this lovely post by greenhorns contributor Sophie Mendelson.
You’re never seen a sprout look this ghoulish. AMAZING video from band C.A.M.P.O.S. for their song Teosinte, which features incredible slow-mo of the title seed germinating.
Most of the sites that reviewed the band mentioned that teosinte is a “form of Mesoamerican corn,” but being the horticulture geeks that we are, we can’t help but mention that it is a species of South American grass that is actually considered the ancestor of all modern corn. To this end, we also can’t help but recommend this, while less visually stimulating, utterly fascinating article by the genetics lab at the University of Iowa on corn genetics and the long-standing mystery that teosinte’s genetic makeup solved. And yes, we just called corn genetics, “utterly fascinating.”
Mountain West Seed Summit “Honoring Origins and Seeding the Future” March 3 – 4, 2017 Santa Fe, New Mexico – Hotel Santa Fe
Join Seed Stewards from the Mountain West and beyond for three days of seed knowledge and networking in beautiful Santa Fe.
The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the McCune Foundation, presents a two-day summit and one-day field trip focused on training and inspiring seed producers across the Rocky Mountain region. The Mountain West Seed Summit will include presentations, demonstrations, hands-on activities, lively discussions, seed exchanges, art, music, and more!
Additional local partners include SeedBroadcast which will be capturing and sharing seed stories and hosting a seed poetry slam, and Squash Blossom which will be providing incredible local food and cuisine.
Praise be to Fedco Seeds of this epically badass farm superhero! In case you missed it, this is the cover of their 2017 seed catalogue. “Trowel and weeder in hand, Magic Molly roams the cosmos rooting out corporate tyranny and planting the seeds of freedom.”
California-based independent Think Tank, the Oakland Institute is calling for signatories to help put pressure on the World Bank to stop promoting policies that favor (and are deeply influenced by) agri-giants like Monsanta and Syngenta in ways that may support countries in passing laws that dramatically limit small farmers’ rights to save, sell, and exchange seeds. It takes no stretch of the imagination to envision the repercussions that this type of global policy might have on small food systems, the viability of small farming in developing countries, seed sovereignty in sustainable ag, and biodiversity worldwide. (more…)
Where does Dorn Cox find the time to get so much done? Dorn is a founding member and board president of farm hack, is director of Greenstart, and– as his bio on their webiste totes– on his 250-acre family farm in Lee, NH, “has worked to select effective cover crops, grains and oilseeds for food and energy production, and has designed, constructed, documented, and shared systems for small-scale grain and oil seeds processing, biofuel production, and no-till and low-till equipment to reduce energy use and increase soil health.”
Also, in his spare time, Dorn find time to contribute to our Almanac. You won’t want to miss this interview. Tune in, as always, at 4:00 P.M EST to Heritage Radio Network.
The Greenhorns, a nonprofit dedicated to young agrarians, is updating one of America’s oldest ag publications.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Long before Martha Stewart printed her seasonal gardening chores on the first pages in each issue of Martha Stewart Living, The Old Farmer’s Almanac outlined the farm-related tasks for any given month in a not dissimilar tone.
“Milch cows should receive especial attention at this season. Do not let them—or, in fact, any of the cattle—stay out too much in the cold, raw wind,” advises The Old Farmer’s Almanac from March 1892. As for the rest of the month, “This is a good time to decide which crops you had better plant; those which are best adapted to your soil, of course, should be the ones.”
However bossy, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is still a beloved and trusted guide—my grandparents kept a copy in the TV room of their farmhouse long after their own milch cows were sold, and my stepfather tucks the annual volume on the dictionary stand in his. But the folksy mix of weather forecasts, planting advice, astronomical and astrological data, recipes, and various articles (the 2017 edition includes a story titled “How to Woo on the Web”) has a very particular audience.
“Our mission is to promote the next generation of young agrarians, and we do that through mixed media,” said Laura del Campo, director of The Greenhorns, a grassroots nonprofit devoted to recruiting, promoting, and supporting a new generation of young farmers. A new take on The Old Farmer’s Almanac—called, rightly, The New Farmer’s Almanac—is one of the organization’s catalyzing contributions to the conversation about where agriculture is headed in the next 20 years. The upcoming issue—which was just bumped from this month to December, giving you extra time to add it to your Black Friday or Cyber Monday gift-shopping list—is focused on the notion of the commons as it relates to agriculture.
And if The Old Farmer’s Almanac seems old-fashioned—it was founded in 1792—that’s not the half of it.
“The almanac as a form is actually much older than The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” said The New Farmer’s Almanac Vol. III lead editor, Nina Pick. There is, for example, the Babylonian Almanac, which dates back to the first millennium BCE and detailed the relative auspiciousness of each day of the year for any endeavor of ordinary life—including activities related to food, health, travel, and business. In the first century ACE, Greek writer Ptolemy connected celestial movements with future weather patterns. By the Middle Ages, people saw little difference between predicting the movements of the stars and tides and predicting the future for purposes of divination. In other words, you could read your horoscope in medieval almanacs—just as you can today.
The New Farmer’s Almanac engages with an ancient form by including these traditional elements while also pushing ahead into new territory.
Pick said the new publication is “drawing on a very old, traditional form, and while keeping the integrity of this old form, we’re also radicalizing it—bringing in ideas that are more revolutionary, more radical—to have these conversations with a new agrarian movement.”
Contributions come from farmers young and old, activists, economists, poets, ecologists, and a former Russian literature professor. One contributor, Elizabeth Henderson, has been an organic farmer since 1980 and is two weeks away from celebrating the end of her 28th season at Peacework Organic CSA—which she says is the oldest CSA in New York State north of Long Island. She has contributed to The New Farmer’s Almanac for two years, and the latest volume includes two more of her essays: one on GMOs and another on raising the minimum wage for farmworkers.
“My position is that if we want to have an agriculture that is worth sustaining we have to find a way to pay the people who work on our farms living wages—not just minimum wage—so it’s a respected profession that people are anxious to get into,” she said.
There is a strong anti-GMO theme running throughout the volume, Pick said, and support of local and alternative economies. Henderson, for her part, said she has been able to sustain her farm for so many years by building and relying on networks of social capital. The members of Peacework, for example, contributed money to the Genesee Land Trust to purchase the farm’s land.
“That’s what we need to build—cooperation and a solidarity economy,” she said. “Because the regular capitalist marketplace isn’t paying us enough.”
In addition to expert essays and practical illustrations of lunar cycles, what makes the almanac so unique as a form is how it also makes space for beauty, as well as the ineffable qualities of life captured most compellingly in art. This, too, is radical, Pick said.
“Drawing attention to presence, to the movement of seasons, to land, to seeds, to the beautiful details in nature is a radical action in a cultural moment that is completely dominated by screens and lack of presence, lack of commitment to nature, lack of intimacy with place and with earth,” she said.
Poet Douglass DeCandia was eager to contribute to the third volume because “I feel that The New Farmer’s Almanac is giving voice to the people who are coming to agriculture to help heal the land, ourselves, and our communities.”
What the almanac as a form can do—and what The New Farmer’s Almanac does—is unite two distinct human needs between the covers of one book.
“It speaks to the part of us that needs to read poetry and see beautiful artwork as we’re sitting around the fire on a winter’s evening,” Pick said, “and the part of us that needs to know, ‘OK, I wonder when there’s going to be high tide on June 20? When is the moon going to be full in December? And where can I buy my seeds?’ ”
“The almanac, out of all the literary genres, offers this beautiful bridging of body and soul and a real integration of the two,” she said. “We can’t be here on Earth as one without the other.”
-Sarah McColl has written for Yahoo Food, Bon Appétit, and other publications. She’s based in Brooklyn, New York. This piece was created for Takepart, published on November 6, 2016.
Join us for a community planting festival! I need help to plant 72 rare
varieties of landrace wheat, that include the almost-extinct ancient grains of Eretz Israel and Europe that I collected when working with the Israel and EU gene banks*. Many hands make light work. Each person will receive free heritage wheat seeds offered on growseed.org and the joy of being part of a network to restore ancient grain traditions.