Until recently, every gardener in the world saved their own seed. And every gardener was, therefore, a plant breeder.

They simply saved the seed of the plants that did best for them, and which they liked most. Although simple, this was efficient.

If things changed so that your cabbages didn’t do well, someone down the road had a slightly different one that would cope. This has worked very well for the past 11,000 years.

@neauoire But how are seed sellers supposed to make money then?

@neauoire this is what modern seed swaps are all about. People mail packets of seeds that have done well for them to others, and get packets back that they can try out. This is how I learned about cushaws, and eventually wrote an article about them. Farmer in Kentucky sent me a packet of all sorts of squashes. I recall correctly, I sent dragon tongue beans and a couple of tomatoes.

@neauoire not only gardeners but every fucking one who were cultivating plants had seeds stashed... until like motorized tractors became a thing...

@neauoire We used to have an entire book on this! Well, on breeding plants, that is, one that went into basic genetics and everything. Maybe we even still have it...

@autumnal @neauoire Possibly by Carol Deppe? _Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties_?

And she's working on other fascinating feed-us-efficiently strategies, like different sowing/harvesting/processing for mixed greens.

@clew @neauoire Oh! Yeah! That was the one, definitely. I read that a few times and even toyed with the idea of writing a computer program to simulate the plant breeding process, but I was a bit of a small creature and never figured it out.

@autumnal @neauoire Nice project for off-season in the garden, that would be.

@neauoire ah, is it "time to hate Monsant"-o' clock again?

(rhetorical question: it's *always* "time to hate Monsant"-o' clock)

This hasn't really worked so well like ever. Unless dying from hunger was part of *working very well*. It wasn't super effective either.


There's this project to make free (as in not patented) seeds available:

Nice to read something within the fediverse, different from the usual content! :)

@neauoire The ongoing, international attack on seed saving is just another attempt by conglomerates to entirely hijack another industry and take it away from its workers. To dumb things down, that is.
I didn't know how extensive and malicious these operations from companies like Mosanto were, until I saw interviews of Dr. Vandana Shiva.
#farming #agriculture

@neauoire There have also been cultures that have deliberately maximized seed diversity rather than selecting "the best".

"On one occasion, I asked a Hopi woman at Munqapi if she selected only the biggest corn kernels of all one color for planting her blue maize. She snapped back at me, “It is not a good habit to be too picky... we have been given this corn -- small seeds, fat seeds, misshapen seeds -- all of them. It would show that we are not thankful for what we have received if we plant just certain ones and not others” (Nabham 1983 pp. 7)"

Quoted in…

@viznut I'm not sure how I never ran across Ron Eglash's work before, thanks for this pointer!

Very true. There are also grassroots efforts to retain diversity amongst rice varieties in India. This helps save drought and disease resistant varieties which are not necessarily high yield ones.

Deb says "Companies are spending billions on 'gene mining', or seeking specific genes. Yet after 60 years they still do not have one which can withstand a drought or flooding or sea water. But all of these characteristics are available in the landraces.


Deb: "High-yielding crop varieties have resulted in the loss of numerous landraces possessing important genes. With the rapid disappearance of folk varieties, farmers have become entirely dependent on commercial seed suppliers for their crop. Seeds used to be a precious gift to relatives and friends. Because crop seeds were traditionally to be belong to the community, there was no scope for commercial appropriation," he says.


@neauoire In case there are EU folks around, I'll slip a link the EU public consultation about the ongoing work on a new seed legislation. If you dislike those proprietary seed hoggers, do fill it out :-)

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