On the last day of March, regional seed growers from around southern Oregon gathered to trade seeds and share information about the vital cultural practice of saving seeds. When I walked into the armory, tables had been set up around the perimeter, where seed growers and a few other groups displayed their information and their wares. A quartet played somewhat quietly on the side of the stage, meant to be background music. I very much enjoyed their playing, especially when Bob Jackson Miner came in on the harmonica.
I brought my girls with me, as the event advertised activities for kids, and I like to take them along when I cover stories. They got to practice winnowing, using a grinder to strip dried corn from the cob, and they planted radish seeds in small biodegradable pots that they got to color on.
I walked around and looked at the booths, glad to see some friends, including Chris Hardy, Dolly Warden, and Scott McGuire. I was also delighted to meet some new people such as Gif, a farmer from up in the Grants Pass area. The emphasis of my journalism is solutions and success stories in the march towards a better world, and at such a gathering as the seed exchange, almost everyone I met would be worthy of covering. I was in the company of permaculturists, biodynamic farmers, beekeepers, activists, and spiritual teachers, and everyone has his or her own perspective and wisdom to add to the larger effort of beautifying our world.
The event was largely organized by Don Tipping of Siskiyou Seeds and Seven Seeds Farm. Don is a seed farmer, a permaculturist, a teacher, and a well respected leader in the community. He called us all into a giant circle and spoke briefly about the culture and philosophy of seed saving. We did a short ceremony where seeds associated with the four directions were carried across the circle and exchanged with that direction’s seed.
Then began the seed exchange, where everyone put the seeds they had brought on the tables and started going around with small envelopes or bags to collect what they wanted to take home. Owing to another engagement I had that evening, I had to leave shortly after the exchange began, but I made sure to get a few seeds before I left, and I made a sizeable donation to the snack bar jar so that I could take a nice assortment of delicious organic sweets to share with the girls. Putting out donation jars instead of having a cashier is agorism in action.
This entire event was agorism in action. The purpose was free trade and open exchange, and all of it came together because of people’s desire to share, work together, and make sure that we can provide for ourselves regionally, at least as far as food goes. One of the best ways that people make a difference in the world is by getting involved in local groups like a seed exchange. Through consistent effort on the part of grassroots organizations, we can set up locally managed economic systems that can support us, bringing us that much closer to freedom and self-reliance.
There are many aspects to what it will take to transform our world. Preserving quality, regionally-adapted seeds is but one important piece of the larger design. Whenever you are privileged to eat farm fresh food, think not only of the efforts of the farmer, but also of the seed grower who provided the seed.