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Seed Sovereignty

This week I wanted to talk about one of our core values as an organization: seed sovereignty. Sovereignty is a powerful word in that it suggests individual freedom, but a freedom embedded in a larger loving container whose purpose is to nourish, cherish, and protect you. So while it means liberation, it also means responsibility. For us, seed sovereignty is a committed effort to protect seeds as much as it is a celebration of their wildness even as they explore the possibilities of domesticity with us.

We see seeds as sacred gifts from beyond our comprehension, along with all the other elements and creatures of the universe, and we respect their right to self-determination. Though this is big talk, it plays out, like all good work, in small, everyday actions.

We approach our farming with curiosity and humility, observing and learning from the earth and its wild mess of interconnection as we work. The process of saving seeds on our farms helps us with that, allowing us to bear witness to the miraculous synergy between a host of beings that assist a seed in its transformation from seed to plant to seeds again. This ancient miracle has sustained people for as long as people have existed. It has allowed us to settle in one place, and it has allowed us to move around, taking those tiny, portable bundles of sustenance with us.

We believe seeds are safer the more hands that hold them, so in our work, we don all our sexiest seduction tactics to convince more people to grow, save, and share seeds in our region.

We oppose the genetic modification of seeds to serve the greed of corporations, and we oppose the utility patenting of seeds for the same reason. We believe that highly uniform industrial monoculture agriculture is a massive threat to the survival of humanity. Its oppressive lack of diversity is killing the complex web that sustains us, and its methods are poisoning our air, water, and soil. It is exploiting the labor of the many for the profits of the few.

We believe another world--one of abundant and diverse small and midsized farms--is possible, and so we advocate for reforms in our area that can make farming viable for small farmers.

And while we are doing this work in the Intermountain West, we stand in solidarity with those doing it all over the world. If we stay home and fight for our ability to feed ourselves here, we can ease the burden on other places forced to do our bidding through highly unjust and unequal global trade policies. We believe every region and culture in the world should have the right to develop, steward, and share its own seeds free of corporate ownership and oversight.

We acknowledge that Indigenous cultures around the world are the experts in this work, having bred the vast majority of the world's food crop varieties and continuing to steward a robust variety of locally-adapted open-pollinated seeds. We see how the devastation of colonization has and continues to attempt to destroy indigenous communities and their seeds, and we are actively learning about ways we as white people are complicit in these white supremacist systems along with ways we can help dismantle them.

I love the ways that advocating and caring for something so tiny can yield such big and far-reaching results. And though it's hard to measure progress amid such huge challenges, I'll leave us with a couple of small examples from our own little corner of the earth, of how our commitment to seed sovereignty is making us more resilient.

Two weeks ago, our grower Green Team Farm had an explosion and fire at their farm. He lost much, but one of the most heartbreaking for James was his stock seed of many varieties he'd been growing for years. In this case, Snake River Seed Co-op was able to act as a safety backup for his own seeds. We were able to quickly pull together a package of their seeds and send it to them so they can continue with the spring work of planting their own beautiful seeds as they rebuild.

This year, I've been changing things up at my Earthly Delights Farm and as a result, I just didn't get around to ordering much of anything, seed-wise, from other companies. This is the first year I haven't really put in a seed order elsewhere, and instead am planting my farm almost entirely with seeds I or other Co-op growers have saved. Over a hundred varieties will go into my field this year, providing an abundance of food all the way through the summer, fall, winter, and into next spring, all from seeds grown in our bioregion! It is so incredible to be at this point. Seed sovereignty is a tangible and cozy reality as I tuck them carefully into my beds and let the rain water them in.

Thank all of you deeply for your part in helping this project grow and nourish our little corner of the earth. Happy planting!