The Story of Seed, Part 1: An Introduction to Seed Saving

| 1/7/2015 10:07:00 AM

Tags: seed saving, gardening, open-pollinated seed, North Carolina, Chris Smith,

Janisse Ray, seed activist and author of The Seed Underground, writes: Runner Beans

“When seed varieties vanish from the marketplace, they evaporate not only from collective memory but also from the evolutionary story of the earth. Seeds are more like Bengal tigers than vinyl records, which can simply be remanufactured. Once gone, seeds cannot be resurrected.”

In my own experience I felt this most strongly with a small collection of ‘Big Mama’ Pole Beans I picked up at a seed swap in Alabama a few of years ago. The handwritten note that came with the beans said:

Big Mama – at least 100 yr. heirloom green bean from Sand Mtn. area. Prolific, long purple pods.”

Receiving these beautiful little purple beans wasn’t what got me hooked on seeds; it was my inability to find information about them anywhere online. I realized that I owned something that I couldn’t buy, and I panicked!

What if I’m the only one left growing these seeds? How terrible would it be if the line that links my imagined ‘Big Mama’ and her special purple beans, stretching back over 100 years, ends with me?

1/23/2015 2:07:55 PM

A well written and great article! You have inspired me to more judicious in saving and collecting my seed. Looking forward to Part 2!

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