Rainbow Dreaming  

Michel & Jude Fanton in their garden, Byron Bay, 2009
Image: © Mark Lang

Seed Savers

Until recent times all gardeners and farmers were the stewards of the plant heritage that sustained us. Over the centuries it was seed saving that enabled people to domesticate wild plants, and this allowed communities to settle.

The way food is mass-produced and distributed today dictates plant breeding and seed production worldwide. It stands to reason that, when plants are engineered for specific commercial features, other valuable characteristics are inevitably lost. Tomatoes harvested by machine, dumped onto conveyor belts and hauled long distances by truck, need to be very tough indeed, but not necessarily tasty or nutritious!

We can help ourselves to become independent again by saving seeds and passing on knowledge about propagation and plant usage. By regaining control of our food, we strengthen our own security, the genetic integrity of our traditional crops and the potential to develop useful varieties that are adapted to the climate, the soil of the region and local pests.

The Seed Savers’ Network was founded in 1986 to preserve the diversity of our plant heritage. Since then we have worked in thirty-three countries on seed saving and food biodiversity projects.

In the spirit of ‘small is beautiful’ and encouraging local adaptations of cultivated plants, Seed Savers has devolved to Local Seed Networks.
There are now more than eighty around Australia. Several groups overseas are also lining up to be associated with us.

Seed Savers have also published a manual for teachers and parents. It covers how to install food gardens in schools and has practical suggestions for activities and websites listed for further research.

In September 2008 Seed Savers released “Our Seeds: Seeds Blong Yumi”, a documentary film that celebrates traditional food plants and the people that grow them. With footage from 11 countries, “Our Seeds” addresses the problems of globalised food based on hybrids that require pesticides and synthetic fertilisers and shows how individuals and small groups have solved these problems. The film is a David and Goliath story where resilience and persuasive logic triumph over the seemingly invincible forces that control much of our food.

Seeds, especially of food and other useful plants, should be taken care of by the people. They are too precious for all of them to be placed under the exclusive control of the few. The more hands that hold them, the safer they will be.

Michel and Jude Fanton, Seed Savers Network, Byron Bay

PreviousRainbow Dreaming Next