Food security is vital to our very existence. Most people collect money and/or gold to save up for a time of need. These same people will gladly give you all their gold in exchange for food when they are hungry. We at Garden Seeds believe that the lack of genetic diversity in our country's seed supply could one day lead to a famine. Just look at what happened to Ireland in the 1800's because everyone was planting the same potato.
Do we really trust the big seed companies to think about our long term safety and security? They are so busy developing seeds to increase their profits that they have even developed seeds that will not grow again next year if you save the seed. Wait... does that mean that they could demand all our gold in a time of crisis? We should all start growing only landrace and heirloom seeds that we know will grow again next year from the seeds we can save if need be.
Every month Garden Seeds features an heirloom seed company. This month we have chosen to feature Heirloom Seed Banks. They are a seed company that sells family sized seed banks that are packaged in Mylar bags for long term storage. They have the heirloom seeds that could provide food security for you in a time of food scarcity.
They wrote an article about Basswood in the local newspaper entitled From Seed to Shining Seed. It tells how he is out to see the world by hitchhiking or taking buses. The article tells how Basswood meets people to learn about their way of life. “’When he works for room and board, he is really there for a free education,” Scot said. “Many people actually pay permaculture farms for the privilege of working on them for a month or two to learn permaculture design and techniques.’”
Basswood has worked on permaculture farms in California, Hawaii, Turkey, Guatemala, and visited several in Mexico. Basswood is now working at the Fungi Academy where he is learning about the benefits of fungi. This year he hopes to learn about using mushrooms and other fungi in food forests and other permaculture designs. He wants to bring this knowledge back to Northern Minnesota in the Spring where we will use it as we develop our permaculture farm here at Garden Seeds.
Before Basswood left for the winter he cleared another acre of land where we plan on planting trees and bushes along the forest edge to make another food forest. In the new open area we plan on developing a landrace of corn with some of the corn seeds he collected on his trip across Mexico that he just completed.
Basswood and the Fungi Crew made it to the Fungi Academy in Guatemala. About six hours after Basswood sent me the message that he made it safely he sent a message saying he cut his hand pretty bad and had to get stitches. He said he has to go to the clinic for daily dressing changes. I was worried that he would not have enough money to pay for all that. He wrote back and said, "health care is free in Guatemala."
Like don't I know that only in the US does our health insurance cost over $1500 a month and then we still cannot afford to go to the clinic because of the high co-pays. I am glad that he is at a place where he can get the help he needs when he needs it. Getting hurt does not seem to have slowed him down to much. He says that he is in charge of landscaping and setting up the gardens for the Fungi Academy. Knowing Basswood, he cannot wait to get some of those landrace seeds in the ground that he collected on their trip from San Francisco.
Everyone is working hard to get ready for the week long fungi seminar that is coming up in January. I wish that I could join them and learn more about the benefits of fungi.
Basswood called and said that the Fungi Bus was entering Guatemala this morning. He said that they should be at the Fungi Academy this evening. There are only seven of them on the bus now. They have given rides to several hitchhikers and fellow travelers along the way.
Basswood told about visiting Piramide del Sol at the sacred Mesoamerican ruins of Teotihuacan in Mexico and the park ranger climbed up after them to kick them off the pyramid and ask them to leave the park and not come back.
Just for fun, when they got to the bottom of the pyramid, they all ran in different directions. The park ranger called for backup in rounding them all up. Basswood said that he learned several new Spanish cuss words in the process. Fungi Crew at the pyramid.
Basswood said that they have been teaching people about the benefits of fungi along the way and they plan on holding a week long seminar at the Fungi Academy in a couple of weeks.
What I am most excited about is that Basswood told me they have collected a banana box full of landrace seeds on their trip from San Francisco to Guatemala. When they get to the Fungi Academy he plans on making some swells to hold water on the grounds and then start some experimental landrace gardens. They hope to be able to feed the people that come to their seminars with the food they grow.
I am so excited. We received our first heirloom seed catalog for 2017. I opened the mailbox a couple of days ago and there it was… A beautiful color catalog from Seed Savers Exchange. Their 2017 seed catalog of heirloom, untreated, non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds. Outside right now it is cold with snow on the ground. These seed catalogs that we receive help me remember the warm summer days that I worked outside in our heirloom and landrace gardens.
The pictures in this post are of landrace seeds Basswood and his friends are collecting on their trip through Mexico. Basswood likes to collect heirloom and landrace seeds on his travels. He said they collected these landrace corn seeds in a farming town in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Basswood said they do not allow GMO crops in the area so that they can maintain the natural genetic diversity in their seed crops.
We feature a landrace or heirloom seed company every month so that we can hopefully get you excited about collecting the seeds you will need for the next season. For the month of December we, here at Garden Seeds, are featuring Garden Medicinals and Culinaries which specializes in medicinal and culinary herb non-GMO seeds. They believe that seeds belong in the public domain and they are working to preserve and promote non-GMO seed varieties.
I believe a parent’s job is to prepare his children to face the challenges in live. Too often we as parents try to mold our children to be like us. We want them to excel in the things that we enjoy. We even want them to see things the way we see them. Basswood wants to see the world. He has a lot more courage then I do. I am afraid to meet people from the next town that speak my language and like the same things I do. But, Basswood’s Idea of a wonderful day is to spend the day with a group of people that only speak a language he does not understand and who like things he is not familiar with.
I believe that given the chance and the support that they need our children will learn what they need to survive in life. What they learn will probably not be what we would have taught them if we retained total control of their lives. But, if we allow our children to learn what they are interested in they will learn so much more than we could have imagined. They will even see things differently than we do, but that is okay.
I have been using Basswood’s sister’s pictures for the last few posts I have written. She has several great pictures but they are at an angle so I have been reluctant to use them. I asked her why some of her pictures are at an angle. She said that she likes to take them that way because that is the way she sees them.
Wait… is it possible that my daughter is different than I am? Could she see the world differently? Is it okay to encourage her to see the world in her own way like I have encouraged her brother to see the world in his?
I hope you enjoy the pictures on this blog as I try to experience and see the world as my children see it.
More of Basswood’s Sister’s Photos.
Basswood searches the internet for seed companies that sell heirloom and landrace seeds. On his Central American trips he meets farmers at the market and asks them about the beans they are selling to see if he can collect them for seeds. Last summer it rained so often that most things did not grow well. The exception to that was a couple of landrace varieties of beans that were grown by native tribes in the past, and the landrace fava beans that he collected.
Basswood will spend hours going trough his seeds planing what he wants to grow next year and which landrace seeds he wants to store for a few years. We never want to grow all our seeds out in one year. If the weather is bad that year we could lose a landrace variety that we have been working on. We save enough landrace seeds to plant for three different years just in case we have a couple of bad years.
Basswood also spent hours shelling beans and laying them out on drying trays so that they would dry enough to store.
I used sister’s photos in this blog.
When the weather is good for going outside Basswood can always find something to do. This summer it rained so often that it was hard to work in our landrace gardens. The ground never seemed to dry out enough. When it was too wet to work in the gardens Basswood would take his chainsaw out and make a trail through the woods or thin a stand of trees. Using a chain saw is relaxing for Basswood. When he is feeling stressed he goes out with his chainsaw and starts cutting. (One day Basswoods little sister told me that I am going to need to buy him some more wooded land soon or we will not have any trees left.)
You might not be aware of this but the world we live in is stressful. I work twelve hour shifts as a Administrative Representative in a hospital. When I am on a stretch of work the stress just drains the energy out of me, and I do not have the energy to help Basswood in our food forests or landrace gardens. On one occasion as I was getting ready to start a stretch of work Basswood said he wanted to thin a stand of trees beside the drive that goes back into our property. I told him that sounded like a good idea and I went to work.
After my stretch of work Basswood took me out to show me the work he had done. When we got back to the stand of trees a whole section was cut down. I tried to protest saying that I thought that thinning meant cutting down a tree here and there… Basswood said he decided this was a good place to start another food forest and landrace garden because it was a south facing slope. He is right after all… our gardens are all on level ground and we even have one that is on a north facing slope which is not the best idea in Northern Minnesota.
Basswood spent the next four weeks clearing that area. I helped a little when I could. Hauling away the fire wood and stacking and burning the brush. We are not going to work up the soil in the area because there are way to many tree roots to even try. We went to the compost dump down the road and hauled truck loads of black dirt and made piles about six inches high of dirt. Basswood got books from the library that he reads when it is too wet to go outside. He learned about how the local Native tribes hilled up the soil and then planted “The Three Sisters,” corn, beans, and squash. So, we are just making hills on top of the ground to plant our three sisters in our new landrace garden in the spring.
Basswood spends a lot of time and energy clearing land and preparing it for a new landrace garden. We plan on reaping the benefits of this investment in time and energy for years to come. This is my retirement plan. I do not see the wisdom in investing my retirement in the stock market where a Bernie can make off with it. I want my retirement savings invested in landrace gardens that my son and I work each year to improve. Besides you can not get more nutrition than from foods grown in landrace gardens.
When Basswood is home he spends lots of time with his sisters teaching them different things. He takes them outside and teaches them about the trees and plants in the woods. He helps them plant a garden of their own and encourages them to care for it. (This year caring for the garden was hard because it rained so much.)
Basswood also teaches them how to use a camera and how to take pictures. This post contains pictures his thirteen year old sister has taken.
I was looking through some photos that Basswood took on his trip to Guatemala last year and found these beautiful flowers.
As I post these there is over a foot of snow outside my house. I am so jealous that Basswood gets to travel down to Guatemala again this year. I wish that when I was young I had the courage to venture outside my comfort zone and I could have seen more of the worlds beauty. Here are more of Basswood’s flower photos.