Wild plants have made up most of the focus of this blog. But what about “domesticated” plants, such as the annuals we grow in our gardens?
How can we treat them that they behave more like wild plants – vigorous, resilient, low-maintenance, and more fecund and feral – yet which continue to supply our needs for flavor, nutrition, and ease of access?
The answers, I believe, are found inside the genome of the seed where genetic diversity is found. I will explore the concept behind landrace gardening, which provides for many real-world examples of genetic diversity in action.
The Seeds of Genetic Diversity
The seed has found itself at the forefront of politics lately. With corporate threats to food security and seed integrity like Monsanto and ADM looming large, the voices of the seed-savers have become powerful leaders helping to create a future of food security. A down-to-earth, humble pursuit at root, seed-saving is the cornerstone of food sovereignty but largely a lost art these days. The seed-savers have thus been positioned as more than just the saviors of seed but as the saviors of land-based culture in general.
While the actions of the seed-savers are commendable, this is not a post about seed-saving, though seed-saving is a part of it. My focus here is rather on genetic diversity: one big issue, which can be broken down in many ways.
I aim to show not only how we lost genetic diversity, but how we can regain it. I call it “decolonizing the garden,” because on the right hand it resists the corporate-based objectifying commodity-driven economy, and on the left hand it unspins some of the unquestioned premises and methods guiding the way we’re used to gardening.