Working to Keep Seed Diversity in the Public Domain, Part 2


Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement spotlights 18 Oregon farms and farm supporters who are committed to a return to ecologically sound agricultural practices. This group reflects the diversity of people, both young and old, who are reshaping our state’s food system and reclaiming our right to eat well. In their stories you will hear how they came to be where they are, learn something about the challenges they face, and share their happiness at the successes they’ve enjoyed thus far. The following profile has been excerpted from Planting A Future.

Mario DiBenedetto with tomato plants

Read Peace Seedlings, Part 1.

One very important thing both Dylana Kapuler and Mario DiBenedetto have gained from their informal apprenticeship with Dylana’s father, Dr. Alan Kapuler, is a broad-based foundation of practical field experience they most likely would not have garnered from a university degree. The agricultural departments of most land grant colleges have followed the money represented by industrial agriculture in the same way businesses do. This is because university research dollars come from the large agrochemical companies or the government agencies run by former agrochemical company employees. Because of this fact, they reflect the industry they are supporting, which is an industry of specialization.

When agriculture is run as a mechanized industry, it functions in a manner similar to a giant assembly line with every person doing their one specialized task. For that reason, a college student studying plant breeding might spend his or her entire time focused on a single factor within a specific market. Alan Kapuler recognized that and thus encouraged actual field work.

“To us, college just doesn’t make much sense,” says Dylana. “First, of course, there’s the debt. Why would we want to go into debt to do something we can do right here? And from what I’ve seen, those kids are completely focused on just one type of something the whole time. One strain of barley. Or barley just for beer. Or barley just for something else. They spend their whole time at the university working on some professor’s project that’s not even their own work and they come away with this narrow bit of knowledge about a subject as broad as plant diversity. With virtually no field experience. Doesn’t make sense to me. I can definitely see why my dad gives what we do such props.”

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