Friday, May 4, 2012

Nature saving her seeds

Part of my food exploration journey is growing my own vegetables.  One aspect of veggie farming that I want to explore is seed saving.  My inspiration for seed saving comes from Wangari Maatai.  She was a Kenyan woman who started the Green Belt Movement in 1977.  Several years ago I watched a documentary called Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maatai.  It discusses why she started the Green Belt Movement and the challenges she faced.  To call this movie inspirational is an understatement.  It turned me into a sobbing mess.

One of the movies unforgettable messages is that rather than teach women how to plant trees, Maatai taught women how to grow and then plant trees.  She did not want them purchasing trees from a grower, because this was not true independence.  Saving seeds falls into this vein.  When people don't know how to save their own seed, they are forced into relationships with companies like Monsanto, who breed their seeds into sterility.  A sterile seed is a horribly perfect symbol of our modern industrial diet - growing market share and profit at the expense of life.

The natural world though is hard to stifle.  My recent experience in my little garden proves this at least anecdotally.  I was out on my deck doing an early spring clean-up when I came upon some bean pods from last year.  I plucked them off the vine even though they looked rough.  In the kitchen I pulled the pods apart.  Some of the beans were moldy and I threw them out, but several looked good and like they could possibly be planted.  Was it possible, I wondered, that these little beans survived the wet and cold Vancouver winter with their ability to grow still intact?

I planted the seeds and three weeks later, beautiful little beans started emerging from the soil.  I'm excited to plant these peat pots in my veggie garden and watch them grow.

While I am planning on purposefully saving seeds in the future, this experience shows that when mother nature is left to her own devices she is remarkably resilient.


  1. You just reminded me to look at my Hannan Popbeans, and they grew a lot since I last looked at them. Mother Nature is a miracle!!

    1. I know right! Mine are in the garden snaking their way up a bamboo pole as we speak. I'm going to post an updated pic.