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Seed Sovereignty, Tikkun Olam, and Gardening at Home

And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit — to you it shall be for food." Gen. 1:29

So, this is our (Pushing the Envelope Farm’s) first posting on Jewcology. Woo-hoo! In honor of this, I thought that I would begin at the beginning: a seed.

This month at the farm, we’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be food independent. There was a talk at the Great Lakes Bioneers by Dr. Vandana Shiva. She’s a remarkable woman who has received the alternate Noble Peace Prize (the Right Livelihood Award) and the award that caught my attention, a Lennon ONO grant for peace. The below is from the promo for the talk:

“Corporations like Monsanto have created a seed emergency – an emergency through patents on seeds, seed monopolies, biopiracy, genetic engineering and creation of non -renewable sterile seeds. Seed monopolies have pushed 250,000 farmers to commit suicide in India. After contaminating farmer’s seeds and crops, Monsanto sues farmers “for stealing their gene”, putting the polluter pays principle on its head, and making it the polluter gets paid principle.” She has created the Global movement on Seed Freedom to "stop the corporate hijack of seed."

Dr. Shiva encourages everyone to grow at home as a way of protecting the diversity of seed on the planet, and nature's ability to reproduce itself. She also sees it as a way of protecting people's access to healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Certiainly, seed sovereignty and growing at home ties in to TIkkun Olam.

How this relates to PtEF: This past Sunday, we had our garlic planting on the farm. What struck me about it is that most of the participants who came to learn to plant garlic also took some garlic home to grow on their own (I’ll admit, not actually a seed, but still).

We’ve had countless programs on the farm, and out of all of them this is the first time that I can say most of the people who attended actually went home to plant. So, what is it about garlic? Or was it the event? Perhaps the event was limited enough in scope that people came, knew what they were going to be doing, learned, and went home to try it themselves.

While a lot of our events are aimed at giving visitors the whole sustainable picture, maybe narrowing our focus made it easier for people to get started. For the upcoming season, I’m going to see if I can get this model to work for other crops, too. The farm will hold watermelon planting parties, seed starting sessions, and other similar workshops next year. I’ll let you know how it goes.

-Kate Re

Farm Manager at Pushing the Envelope Farm

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