To protect disappearing plant varieties by promoting seed saving

Photo credit: Food Tank

SeedBroadcast travels around the country collecting stories about seeds and raising awareness about our connections to food and agriculture.
Seed Broadcast

What is Your Seed Story?

Unprecedented losses in genetic diversity in agriculture are threatening food systems around the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that, over the last century, 75 percent of diversity in food crops has been lost, with more that 90 percent of once-cultivated varieties leaving farmer’s fields. The FAO also reports that 75 percent of the global food supply is composed of only 12 plant species, with rice, wheat, and maize composing 60 percent of the global population’s caloric intake. Within these species, there has been a sharp reduction in the number of varieties cultivated. To combat this genetic erosion, organizations around the world are working to protect disappearing plant varieties by promoting seed saving and community stewardship over biodiversity in agriculture.

SeedBroadcast, based in New Mexico in the United States, was created by Jeanette Hart-Mann and Chrissie Orr to address losses in crop biodiversity. While the project distributes information and raises awareness about the process of saving seeds, its main goal is to preserve the rich oral histories and stories that surround seeds. For many seed savers, saving these stories is just as important as saving the seeds themselves.

SeedBroadcast is an attempt to save the stories of seeds themselves and in doing so, to capture the rich culture in which seeds are embedded. This approach to seed saving recognizes the complex history and connections between people and seeds. It honors the knowledge passed down through generations, and the connection of all people to seeds and food. According to SeedBroadcast,“Seed Stories are the grassroots voices of courage, desire, memory, and dreams. They speak towards the complex relationships between people, seeds, food, ecology, and agency. They are as diverse as the places that nourish them and the people that breathe life into them. Seed stories are stories of knowledge, ideas, and actions, as well as histories and thoughts toward the future.”

Motivated by the power of these stories, SeedBroadcast travels around the United States in a bread truck turned Mobile Seed Story Broadcast Station collecting and sharing the stories of seeds. Along the way, they offer workshops, visit seed libraries, distribute information, and use creative approaches to raise awareness of and animate people’s connections with seeds.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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