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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Seed savers are getting together for a local seed saving and exchange

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A variety of seeds. Photo supplied.

Hilary Bain

Ever since March of this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic response of lockdowns and the fear it has elicited, there’s been a run on seeds at seed companies.

It seems everyone went mad around toilet paper, dogs, and seeds!

It’s a new take on Leonard Cohen’s amazing lyrics:

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking,

everybody knows that the captain lied.

Everybody’s got this broken feeling,

like their father or their dog just died.

We in the West are just two generations from living on the land, so some deep, primal knowing and recognition must have been at play, that seeds are one of the most important ways we can help ourselves survive in an uncertain future. And gardens have sprung up everywhere, one of the upsides to this latest calamity.

Dogs were snatched up for companionship and comfort. Toilet paper too – I think the media had something to do with that.

One of the downsides, besides the growing death rate of, mostly, people over the age of eighty, and loneliness and isolation for the others, is the relentless and continuing centralisation of practically everything, and we’re all being pushed into the internet portal, one of the tools of surveillance, where once again the biggest corporations make trillions stealing business from all the small businesses around the world, forced to shut down owing to the pandemic.

Once again prophetic words from Leonard Cohen:

Everybody knows the dice are loaded,

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.

Everybody knows the war is over,

Everybody knows that the good guys lost.

Everybody knows the fight was fixed,

the poor stay poor and the rich get rich.

That’s how it goes… everybody knows.

After WWII, there was an agenda to get people off the land and into cities, and a relentless takeover of land and resources by giant corporations, aided and abetted by the governments in the West, which made these agribusiness corporations even bigger and more powerful.

Now, what’s being stolen from the people are all the seeds; through the science of genetic engineering. Corporations claim they are improving crops – engineering them to yield more, to be more drought tolerant, pesticide and herbicide resistant etc. This, so corporations like Bayer-Monsanto et al can patent the seeds so they become their property, and farmers can no longer save seed but have to buy it, year after year.

Freedom to save seeds

What’s really happening is theft of the human commons by giant agri-chemical corporations, who now own seventy-five per cent of all seed companies worldwide.

And as Vandana Shiva says, ‘If farmers don’t have the freedom to save their own seeds, how will the rest of us have that freedom?’

By putting seeds in the soil, with water and some nutrient in a certain climate, the growing plant will automatically, naturally adapt and, generation by generation become drought tolerant all by itself. Organic, heirloom seeds are the best seeds to use, to produce strong, resilient plants. This is what humans have done for the past ten thousand years, and an enormous quantity and diversity of seeds have been cultivated and passed down through the generations in every country. This is part of the power of de-centralisation, otherwise known as localisation. This gives us all the freedom to grow our own food, and have real food security and practise sustainability. This is one of the most basic freedoms we have, and multinational agribusinesses are trying to take it from us.

Byron Hinterland Seed Savers (BHSS) and Byron Seed Share are planning to have a seed saving event at the Mullum Farmers Market on Friday 11 December, 8–10.30am.

Byron Seed Share is a website offering at least forty perennial food plants, that local people have cultivated and are willing to share with those who sign up to be members.

Paul Crebar will be in attendance and will talk about the benefits of being a member of Byron Seed Share.

Rasa Dover, founder of BSS, will be on hand to help people identify seeds, and will be sharing the seeds she has.

I will also be there to share knowledge of how to save seeds with anyone who wants to know. See you there!

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