“We’re on a mission and the word is spreading,” said Nancy Roantree of the Kingston Area Seed System Initiative (KASSI), who, along with fellow mission specialist Dianne Dowling, was at the opening of the Frontenac Farmers Market in Verona Saturday.
Their ‘mission’ is essentially to collect seeds and share them through a local network.
“We’re here to encourage people to consider seed saving,” said Dowling. “It’s a growing, self-sustaining movement.”
To that end, they have a multi-facetted approach ranging from workshops, lectures and seminars, to an annual seed swap (Seedy Saturday in March, which has had to move to a larger venue every couple of years) to community gardens to having farmers grow plants specifically for seed.
“We have three local seed companies we’re involved with (Bear Root Gardens in Verona, The Mountain Grove Seed Company and Kitchen Table Seed House on Wolfe Island) but we’d like to have more,” Dowling said. “We’d like to encourage farmers to set aside some land to grow seeds for a small stipend.”
“To me, clean, open-pollenated, non-pesticide, tastier plants that you can harvest is a worthwhile project,” said Roantree.
The first Seedy Saturday was held on Wolfe Island in 2008. KASSI itself began in 2011as an incorporated not-for-profit but the original movement began in the 1960s as large corporations started taking over small regional seed companies. Often that meant that seeds that were naturally selected by our ancestors for more than12,000 years were being patented by corporations.
KASSI estimates that 10 corporations control 67 per cent of global proprietary seed.
And corporations generally conduct research (often by co-opting public institutions) that support their commercial interests, rather than the interests of the public.
“By growing open-pollenated heirloom varieties and conserving their seed, we serve as responsible stewards of our seed heritage,” said Dowling.
For more information or to become involved, visit their website at www.seedsgrowfood.org.