Fruition Seeds in the Dominican Republic: Reflections on Seed

By Petra Page-Mann, Fruition Seeds

We are fortunate to live in a country where we have access to certified organic, regionally adapted varieties that are open-pollinated for us to save, even if we don’t plan to ever save a single seed.  I (Petra) spent the last week of January in the Dominican Republic, teaching seed saving to farmers high in the southwest mountains around El Cercado. Motivated to make their economically and ecologically impoverished communities more sustainable, 20 farmers gathered in a small church to learn and gain hands-on skills in seed saving.

It was a powerful and empowering experience for us all. These farmers have a barrier common in developing nations: their only access to seed is through multinational corporations who often mandate (as they do in the Dominican Republic) the exclusive sale of F1 Hybrid varieties, whose seed when saved will not grow to type. Prices of these seeds were shockingly high even in relative American dollars and selections limited.  The seeds that sowed the previous generation’s fields have long been lost.  The sentinel exceptions are Pigeon Pea and a few dry bean varieties which are impressively adapted to thrive even on high, steep slopes.

I came to the Dominican Republic (as I go anywhere), with thousands of seeds in tow.  Vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains: I brought a diverse mix of varieties we grow and love, ones that I thought may be of some significance, even to a people I didn’t know and barely understood.  Little did I know just how significant they would be.
Thousands of open-pollinated, certified organic seeds are now sprouting in the Dominican Republic.  In the hands of resilient and brave men and women, these seeds will nourish hungry stomachs and spirits for many generations to come.  I returned home with a wider family, a wider vocabulary and a wider appreciation for the access to high quality seed we enjoy here in the United States.
We are all more fortunate than we will ever know.  May the seeds we sow reflect and amplify the abundance we share.

 

*From Fruition Seeds’ March 2015 newsletter.

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