Seeds and plant biodiversity were the focus of attention during a Seedy Saturday event recently held in a Nova Scotia town.
A grassroots gardening fair - presented by the Living Earth Council and held at St. Andrew’s United Church, in Truro - included information on seed saving, biodiversity, composting, community supported agriculture, food security and food sovereignty.
One of the people who took part in the event was Vandana Shiva, a physicist, author, environmental activist and founder of Navdanya, an organization which focuses in saving native seeds and distributing them to farmers. She is also the director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy.
She spoke out on the efforts of companies such as Monsanto to control seed diversity and supply around the world.
“What we are seeing emerge is a seed dictatorship that started with patenting,” she said.
She said that the large companies are poisoning the planet and releasing GMOs. While farmers breed crops for resilience and nutrition, industrial efforts are geared toward intensive chemical and water use, which increases their profits.
“We need to join hands because this work is being done everywhere,” she added. “We have a duty to the earth, each other and future generations to save seeds.
“We do not recognize patents on life. We do not recognize patents on seeds. We have got to make the good noise together. Pirates and polluters are being rewarded with patents, and we need to turn this around because it’s the future of life.”
Brenda Leanders travelled to Haiti as a delegate with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Brenda Leanders had information on the Candadian Foodgrains Bank, and her own trip to Haiti as a delegate with the organization.
“I had heard about the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the work they were doing around food sovereignty, and I wanted to see for myself how they were doing things at ground level,” she said. “I found they were listening to the people’s needs and working in partnership with them.”
It was her first trip to Haiti and she was surprised when she took part in a hike up a mountain to discover a church on top, with about 50 people worshipping.
“We had spontaneous worship in Creole and English,” she recalled. “My conclusion was that there is no such thing as the middle of nowhere in Haiti.”
She said that Haiti exports its best food and imports for itself. There are many species of mango growing there, but not one plant to process them. They export the fruit and then import juice.
Deforestation is a problem in some areas, and is spreading because charcoal is a valuable export. Deforestation results in topsoil being washed or blown away, leaving infertile land.
The foodgrains bank supports projects such as conservation agriculture, sand dams and irrigation schemes to help farmers. It stressed the importance of talking about, and taking action against, climate change.
Visitors were able to learn about the value of worms, as well as how to keep them.
Seedy Saturday included information on Seeds of Diversity, an organization which works to conserve biodiversity and traditional knowledge of plants. Members share seeds of more than 3000 varieties with one another.