Heirloom Seeds ~ Plant Diversity

After a long cold winter in the northern hemisphere our thoughts mostly turn to spring.  We await the opportunity for warmer outside activities: hiking, biking, photographing green instead of white, growing fresh fruits, vegetables and beautiful flowers in our garden pots and plots.  We are usually not thinking about plant loss around the world.

We read and hear about wildlife extinction and the efforts being made or not.  Do we think about plant extinction and how catastrophic loss might change things?  There is a way to gain a two-fold reward now and for the future.

Fresh carrot "reward"

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ fresh carrot “reward”

Commercial fruits and vegetables are often bred for how well they ship, not always how well they taste. In past generations, heirloom seeds for plants with the best old-time flavor were saved and shared among friends, relatives and neighbors.  One of my favorite sources for heirloom seeds and plants is Seed Savers Exchange,  a non-profit organization whose mission “has been to conserve diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing and sharing heritage seeds and plants.” ~ Seed Saver’s Exchange

DSC_0084seedsavertwo600xSeed Savers Exchange started 40 years ago in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and her husband Kent Whealy to honor this tradition of preserving and sharing.  Before Diane’s grandfather passed on, he gave them seeds saved from two of his garden plants, Grandpa Ott’s morning glory and German Pink tomato.  Grandpa Ott’s parents brought seeds with them when they immigrated from Bavaria to St. Lucas, Iowa in the 1870’s.

morning glory resize 610photo(4)Grandpa Ott’s morning glories in our garden.  Photo by Barry Bosold

Colorful flowers and tasty vegetables are a reward, but there can also be a reward on a broader scale, your part in contributing to protection against plant extinction.  Here’s how: Seed Savers Exchange stores heirloom varieties in  back-up locations at the USDA Seed Bank in Fort Collins, CO and at Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

svalbard-seed-new-additions-1_76994_600x450nationalgeographic600Photo from news.nationalgeographic.com

Norway’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault safe guards seed from 1400 worldwide seed banks. “The remarkable facility set on a rugged Arctic island off Norway is the ultimate global safety net for food security. It’s able to protect up to 2.25 billion seeds from even “doomsday” scenarios like asteroid impacts and nuclear war.”

“Instead of asking which seeds to collect and store to produce higher yields today, bank managers are beginning to ask which seeds will be valuable under different climate conditions in the future.”

“Breeders will need to scour the world’s banks for traits that can be introduced into crops to make them suitable for changes in local soils, day length, and precipitation patterns, for example…..These are the kinds of questions that nobody was thinking about before climate change came along, and particularly before the Norway seed vault came along,” Battisti said.~ National Geographic

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As I decide what to plant this year, I like the thought that my selection of seeds also supports the big impact of saving biodiversity for future food and plant security.  Everything counts.  ~ Vicki

For more about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault see the National Geographic news article  and Seed Savers Heritage Farm Food Ark article.

To see other photo interpretations of “reward” you may want to visit the Daily Events photo challenge page.

© COPYRIGHT 2014-2016, Eco Elements, LLC, Vicki Persons. All rights reserved. http://www.ecoelementsLLC.wordpress.com


3 thoughts on “Heirloom Seeds ~ Plant Diversity

  1. Great essay and reminder of how precious our seeds really are, especially the ones that are not yet corrupted by Monsanto et al. There used to be a seed bank in Russia but the curator was falsely accused of treason during those mad times around WWI or WWII. I bet that seed bank still exists. I really like Seed Savers Exchange and get a lot of my seeds from them. I also like Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (http://www.southernexposure.com/) in Central Virginia. They have a similar emphasis on organic and heirloom seeds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Norway seed bank was created after trouble at the seed bank in Afghanistan threatened by the war. Other seed banks have been ruined by flood etc. Many now send duplicate seeds to Norway to guard against loss. I heard in the news last week that tree seeds are being banked as a response to climate change. Thank you for your comments and sharing a favorite resource.

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