Freedom comes in many forms. In our emerging Green Tech world, the heart of our freedom is the power and diversity of living things to make our lives better balanced and sustainable. In order to assure we have the biodiversity we need, the concept of Seed Freedom, the right of farmers to grow their own seeds and to save and exchange seed, has been arising in ever-widening contexts. With introduction of seed and genetic patents, controlled seed monopolies, and an international legal structure that favors multinational corporations’ efforts to prevent farmers saving seed, we are facing a big obstacle to agriculture that is independent and sustainable without corporate interference, including the Urban Farming movement. The future of all farming will depend on the rights of farmers to own, grow, save, and exchange seed … a freedom under attack by many corporate interests today.
In Chicago, growth of Urban Farming will not depend as heavily on local seed, as our City is an international crossroads and is likely to always have a certain amount of corporately owned and generated seed available, yet production of local seed will give independence, diversity and quality to the local market. Local seed can keep Chicago from cookie-cutter gardens and farm plots with the same store-bought hybrids requiring annual replacement. By saving local seed we can provide a diversity of choices and an expanded range of vegetables, fruits, and greens, that have the variety of flavor, colors, and textures that make eating so exciting. By developing local seed, Urban Farmers create an essential resource in the drive to provide a healthier environment and freedom and independence for regional agriculture.
Here is a video of Dr. Vandana Shiva on Seed Freedom:
In order to begin, we need seed banks; a community seed bank is a network of seed saving and exchange. In this system, seeds are collected, saved, grown out, multiplied, selected, and distributed to group members. In our city, Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago is beginning a seed saving initiative, working with local seed savers in order to increase our seed diversity. In St. Louis, Carondelet Garden Urban Farm has a seed exchange and promotes seed freedom. They work with groups throughout the Midwest to collect, exchange and preserve seed. The Seed Exchange, which began in 1975, offers a diverse and affordable catalog which can help local seed savers begin. Over the next few years we will likely see the rise of additional new groups, and older groups become more public. Together, these seed savers are the protectors of seed freedom and sovereignty for all independent farmers, including our emerging Urban Farmers.
So while many of us never think of freedom in terms of seeds and food, it is a crucial and important part of our personal freedom. Supporting our local farmers, and supporting their right to own, breed, grow, and exchange seed, is needed to assure that we continue to be independent and prosperous, allowing us to have a greener, healthier and happier future.
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