Saving Seeds

Saving Seeds

DSC_1003

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.

DSC_1004

The Community I Call Home

The Community I Call Home

We live outside a small town in Eastern Washington that at first look appears one step from being a ghost town or a farm stop taken over by industry. The first time I drove into this small town I was surprised and confused at the same time. The highway into town seems like a “main street”, but it’s really not, a main housing section is made up of manufactured homes and dirt roads. Once I found what could be considered “down town”, there was what looked like a bar with a patio on top. I was there for a business meeting and it was only about 10am on an early spring week day, so people were nowhere to be seen. I thought for sure this was a town on its way out. Definitely not somewhere I would ever move to. Fast forward a handful of years later, and Hubby and I bought a house just a few miles out of this run down little town.

At first look people may think I’m crazy. I’m pretty sure some of the corporate visitors to my office (also in this same sleepy town) think it’s a total lack of options to live in this little town. I don’t view it that way though. Granted, it’s a 20+ minute drive to a chain store, and we only recently got a fast food restaurant (if that’s what subway is classified as). But what the town offers is actually quite priceless.

Once the weather warms up the town is actually quite quaint.  The grass turns green, most homes are well taken care of, and once you find them, there are a couple nice parks too. A city worker waters the street plants by hand using a golf cart / water tank. The school is pretty good, with all grades located on the same campus. Though they don’t have a track team, if a student wants to play a sport, they will likely make the team. They are known for having a strong baseball team and extremely strong coed wrestling team. For the younger kids there are year round activities they can be involved in from flag football to dance or cheer camps. The school hosts multiple free movie nights, great for all age students, and the community is quite involved in everything. The area also has the traditional country charm of 4H and Junior Rodeo participants. And despite the multiple dirt streets in town, they are some of the most well maintained streets you will find. Definitely less potholes & snow mess than most towns.

Currently there is a community project based around building a rec center. It progresses more each day. Currently it houses some circuit gym equipment and hosts a variety of activities including batting cages, dance classes, and martial arts classes. In the long run the goal is to add a daycare / preschool facility (currently there is neither in town), a coffee shop, and a full sized basketball style gym.

If you were to ask me now to describe this sleepy little town, I’d say “it’s mine”. It’s a quaint, sleepy little town that makes plans and schedules around planting and harvest seasons. A community that pulls together to help others. And a town that still has the traditional parades of years past where candy is still thrown and fire trucks still spray water.

Below are some pictures from the rec center project – Seminis/Monsanto volunteers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Weekend herbal garden build

Weekend herbal garden build:

water

In the past several years I’ve become more and more interested in herbs. I didn’t have much exposure as a kid so my cooking with herbs has been a hit and miss trial process. My dad used to make stew and just dump a little of all the spices in…. it was awful! But over the years (despite dad’s teachings) I’ve gotten to be okay in the cooking department. I’ve kept this mainly under wraps. I’ve never minded being the wife that can’t cook. When working funky shifts it really came in handy, so I just played it up. I must have done a good job too, because when I finally made a true home cooked meal for my in-laws they were shocked and kept telling me “no, really, it’s actually good”. It was quite funny, ha-ha. Now my schedule has calmed down a lot, so I don’t mind playing the good wife role.

Anyway, back on topic. This is the first time I’ve ever had an herb garden, so I’m really not sure how this will turn out. I like using natural remedies whenever possible. Which may sound contradictive to some given I work for “the evil” Monsanto, ha-ha. No worries, I won’t go into pro GMO or anything. Anyway, I wanted to have herbs for food, basic remedies, and tea (because, I like tea).  After searching on-line I was having a hard time choosing which herbs, and finding one source for all. And honestly some were a bit extreme and reminded me of the time my dad took me to a gun show and we realized after we got in that it was not like the ones at our local fairgrounds, but more like a pro-Hitler gun club. Anyone remember the movie Rat Race and the Barbie museum? Yea, kinda like that, but I digress. So I found a set on Amazon that looked good, plus I’m a Prime member so I got free 2 day shipping. Can’t go wrong with that.

Here’s a pic:

seed

This can also be found at http://www.mypatriotsupply.com

Hubby built me a raised bed and we hit up some yard sales and freebees for planting pots. Some herbs help with fly control so I needed some that can move around as I need, and some herbs are an invasive species and will run wild if you let it. And honestly I’m not sure which they are for sure, so I may have to replant some if I guessed wrong.

On the raised bed I filled the bottom with these huge rocks that someone actually trucked in for “beauty”. Honestly this amazes me because this rock is so prevalent around most of Grant County you actually see rock walls made of it on people’s property.  So given my built in hatred for this rock style, I used some to take up space at the bottom of my raised bed.

rock-fill

I also used a couple small old stumps I didn’t know what to do with. Once the bottom was filled about 8 inches deep I (and by I, I mean, Hubby) filled it with dirt until it was about 6 inches from the top. Next we put in garden potting soil.

dirt-fill

I added a few scrap pieces of wood to divide up the bed so that I could keep track of things a bit better. Then I laid out my seed packets to decide how to set it up. For now I wrote on popsicle sticks what is planted in each spot (I found a couple cute ideas on pinterest I may switch them out for later). I tried to have the tallest on the North side so that it won’t give too much shade.

layout

finished

Here is what I planted:

Food –

Sage

Oregano

Thyme

Parsley

Cilantro

Basil

 

Tea- (some double for medicinal)

Wild Bergamot

Anise Hyssop

Chamomile

Lemon Balm

Lemon Mint

Peppermint

 

Medicinal-

Catnip

Hyssop

Culver’s Root

Nettle

 

 

 

Planting is fun for all! Love my little helper.

fun