Saving Seeds

Saving Seeds

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As a person that works for a seed company I often hear confusion and complaints around the idea of “saving seeds”. When I first started working in Ag, I too was confused on the concept. I mean really, what do you do with the leftovers?

Let me use wheat for example, and clarify that I am not in any way speaking on behalf of any companies, and all companies have contracts on the topic (allowing or not allowing).

All sates have an agriculture department that monitors regulated seed. Regulated just means that somewhere along the way someone managed to perfect (usually by breeding, but GMO would fall into this as well) a seed and give it a name, file some paperwork on it to claim the specific breeding of seed. In Washington the department that monitors this for wheat is called Washington State Crop Improvement Association. Their job is to monitor and make sure seed doesn’t get we’ll say impersonated or counterfeit, that customers can trust that it is what they are told it is. They do this with a certification process.

Now to clarify more, no one is required to buy certified seed. The benefit is that it has documented results, where as with non-certified seed there is no real way to know what you have. Think buying a papered dog, papers mean its not a mutt.

However, if you choose to buy certified seed, you will often be required to enter into a contract agreeing that should you not use all of the seed you will either return the seed or dispose of it. This clause prevents “mutts”, it’s the spay or neutering of ag.

Scenario 1: farmer Joe goes out and buys seed to grow 100 acres of wheat, he is farming dry land and his field is in a good area, no real risk of disease or other issues. After planting he realizes he has seed leftover. If he purchased non-certified seed, he’s free to store it and use it again next year. Doing so he risks quality and contamination. Depending on his end goal, this may not be of concern, which is also why he may prefer non-certified seed. This is the scenario most people think about.

Scenario 2: Frank has a field in an area that tends to have issue with disease, he is limited on land, and his customer is looking for high protein levels. After researching he finds that company x has a product that seems to fit his needs. He talked to neighbor farmers and decides that he is going to purchase wheat seed 2468. The company goes over the contract with him explains the certified guarantee and the no seed saved clause. Frank gets the benefit of perfected plant breeding and if his crop has a bunch of off types or problems, the company will work with him and have some kind of resolution where he would get compensated. The company gets the benefit of the no seed saved clause so they don’t have to worry that Frank will harvest his field and then start selling the seed to neighbors – basically considered pirated seed.

When you think of it as seed its harder to see what the big deal is and why they can’t save seed, I mean they purchased it after all. But if you look at it as if it were a different product it would make perfect sense.

Look at software for example. Generally, people don’t question why when you buy Microsoft office you can’t buy one license and then download it on your computer, all the computers at the middle school, and all the computers at the high school too. Most people think, no, you need a license per computer or an agreement for multi-user.

Look at DVDs, its not considered okay to buy the movie and then distribute copies of the movie to all your neighbors. Yes, you bought it, and you bought the blank DVDs, but the base material was not yours to duplicate.

Basically the work behind the scenes is considered intellectual property. The seed itself is not the prized possession, its the breeding that went into it.

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Working Mom

Working Mom

The other morning my son asked “why don’t you make stuff like my aunties”?

Dishing up my breakfast I responded confused “what do you mean?”

“Well Aunt A makes syrup, and Aunt R makes apple sauce, and ….”

And key knife twisting. In the most positive voice and a smile I could muster I explained that I did make apple sauce, and I don’t like homemade syrup, plus I use it too fast.  We discussed the benefits of stay at home mom’s and working moms, and how we need to do what works best for our family. We also talked about how we try to make sure he is still able to get as much quality time with each parent as possible.

I am part of a circle that many families are quite blessed in their ability to have the flexibility of a parent home or available most hours for the kids. My son can’t see that most of those moms work in one form or another, and only a couple are not working from home, but we talked about that too.

This really got me thinking though. Sometimes I think as moms and humans in general we really struggle with comparing ourselves to others. Social media has really amplified that too: Amazing moms posting amazing cakes and crafts on Pinterest. Fun family vacations, and perfect Christmas pictures on Facebook. We rarely stop and realize we are comparing our real life to the highlight reel of others.  When we see the perfect family with the perfect portrait pose, rarely do we think or realize that the photographer was bribing the kids with candy, or that husband and wife may have been arguing 20 minutes before over finances. Looking at the perfect birthday decoration ideas on Pinterest how often do we think about how perhaps it’s that perfect because the blog writer is paying bills by making others see perfection?

I find that from time to time I get so caught up trying to make up for working that I waste time on the details that probably won’t be remembered in 10 years.

Perfect example, I tried to earn mom points with cool shaped sandwiches in my son’s lunch. What a waste of time. By the way, you have to cut the bread before you make the sandwich – would have been smart to read the directions.

For my son’s 6th birthday he had a perfect Army Transformer’s cake, with a party at an arcade, everything looked planned and perfect. What wasn’t seen was that I forgot all about how close it was, and suddenly it was the day before and I had no cake, no decorations, no birthday gift. I had a reservation and invitations out. That was it. Late the afternoon before I was calling around like a mad woman trying to find a cake. I got lucky and Walmart had one the right size, and even sort of fit what he wanted. Birthday came, and my son thought I was AWESOME. But I knew I was a wreck.

It’s life. Life is a rollercoaster.

My life is not always perfect, and somedays I feel like I’m a wreck just barely getting by. In the end though I know my kids will look back and think “mama did her best, and loved me unconditionally”.

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