How did you start Seed Savers?

Fri, 17/07/2009 – Michel Fanton

Just reflecting on how we started Seed Savers in the 1980s… Jude and I became alarmed by the weird speed-dating going on between seed company owners and slickos from petroleum/pesticide corporations.
Problem of liaison between seeds and chemical. One solution is community seed banks. All images from India
The concentration of ownership of seed companies had started. By 1999 it reached 33%. By 2009, two-thirds of commercial seeds companies worldwide were owned by three corporations, the largest Monsanto, the second Dupont and the third Syngenta. These companies all produce agrochemicals that their seeds depend on. They also genetically engineer seeds such as Bt cotton that is used by even small farmers in India.

Their reach extends well into the Majority World where even the smallest of shops sell seed along with the chemical fertilisers and pesticides necessary to grow them.

Small seed and chemical shop in Mysore, India
And what did we do as world citizens? We shared our huge seed collection with thousands of gardeners.
We went media… thousands sent us their precious seeds
In 1986 we started to write articles in the press and give radio and television interviews about our seed experience. Every week parcels full of rare seeds would fill up our mail box. we turned them into SEED GIFTS. 500 000 packets were sent to caretake in backyard gardens.
We have since worked in twenty Majority World countries helping small local groups to start seed exchanges and community seed banks.

In Community Seed Bank in village of Chinakatte, northern Karnataka, January 2007 – marginal farmers save and swap seeds.