Hi this is Quin writing. There are so many new Community Supported Agriculture members that I should probably reintroduce myself. Along with two other friends I helped start our farm and ran the CSA program through 2013 prior to Shawn taking the reins in the beginning of this year. We founded a seed company on the land called All Good Things Organic Seeds, and I’ve continued my involvement with our farm outside of the CSA. Alongside the produce we make available to our members and weekly at the Ojai Farmers’ Market, Shawn and i have collaboratively overseen the production and harvest of over about 20 discrete seed crops that will make their way into our seed catalog throughout the autumn.
Many of us intuitively grasp the importance of seeds and seed saving, but even I have found it difficult to explain the depth and importance of our work with seeds in a concise manner. Yes, we are a small seed company that exists in contradiction to the larger trend of corporate consolidation and patenting of genetic resources. We steward the rare crops in addition to the more common ones, which is also important from a biodiversity standpoint. Organic farming is also helpful for the environment generally, for it reduces our reliance on unsustainable farming practices. But on personal level, it is the process of integration between our produce and seed crops that feels the most important about this work. When you get an onion from our produce tables, not only that onion, but the seed that grew that onion, came from this land. This is the same case with so many of the things we produce here.
No region has true sustainability without a vibrant seed ecosystem complimenting it. This is so basic, yet so rare in this day and age. John Navazio, a pioneer in the organic seed movement, and author of The Organic Seed Grower, has written:
Even in the transition from traditional farming to what we now refer to as modern agriculture, farmers still grew most of the seed to meet their needs. This was true of farmers in industrialized societies as it was in true agrarian societies in the mid-20th century. For farmers, producing their own seed was clearly an integral part of their operation. It was a part of every farm… The seed was part of their farm and their farm was part of the seed. Each variety that was selected over time to meet the environmental conditions and the farmer’s needs became part of the whole system used on the farm. That’s the way it had always worked (7).
According to Navazio, it is only very recently – the 1970s – that seed became widely treated as “just another external input like fertilizer and pesticides, on that all farms would need to purchase on a continued, seasonal basis” (10). He continues:
Seed is a reflection of the farming system as it is grown, cultivated, selected, and fully incorporated into that system. Are the crop varieties and the crop genetic resources going to keep adapting to fit the needs of organic agriculture at the hands and through the innovation of farmers and regional seed companies that have a relationship with farmers? Or will we allow the power to go to a corporate elite that share our agricultural future based on shareholder profits? The road ahead for agriculture will be determined in large part by those who shape and ultimately control the seed (12).
For the past month we’ve been running a Kickstarter campaign to support the work we do with seeds on the farm. We have embraced the Community Supported Agriculture model and extended it to seeds: our backers can receive credit in to whatever we offer in our seed catalog, amongst other unique rewards. The campaign is ending on midnight this Sunday, September 15th and as of this writing are still shy of our $15,000 goal. If you support our mission and vision for self-reliance, there’s no better time to make a contribution and decisively shape the future of seed in this region.
With respect and gratitude to everyone,
Quin Shakra, co-founder, Mano Farm
Posted on Thursday, September 11th 2014