At a moment when people the world over are turning to the pleasure of cultivating their own fruits and vegetables, why not take the next step and produce your own seeds? It's a way to preserve biodiversity and counteract seed standardization.
What is a seed crop?
Seed crops are sown with the specific purpose of collecting particular types of seeds for later use. This process of selection goes back to the beginnings of human agriculture. Various criteria are taken into consideration when selecting seeds: size, storability, husk quality… Today, commerce in seed crops is highly regulated, with each country setting their own health and safety standards. This lends itself to the industrialization of seed crops, which become more reliant on pesticides as they are less resistant than natural or “farm” seed crops. Farm seeds are those sown by the grower from their own crops and used from one year to the next. According to the website Agrodistribution, this practice is increasing, as 56% of farmers under the age of 35 are enthusiastic about it.
A do-it-yourself topic like anything else?
But can someone who's not a farmer or really all that familiar with plant growth develop their own seeds? Two associations, Longo Maï and the European Civic Forum, are betting on it. In their fight to preserve seed diversity, they've launched a media library targeted at the gardening public. They've put more than 40 video tutorials online showing the more casual grower how to produce their own seeds for more than 30 varieties of garden vegetables. The videos add up to seven hours and were shot over three years with the help of about a hundred people. They explain the secrets of seed crops in simple terms. While the process is relatively simple and inexpensive, specific tools and a certain patience are required.
7 hours of video
The tutorials are available for free at diyseeds.org and on YouTube, and offer subtitles in five languages (Portuguese, English, Arabic, French, and Spanish.) The exact methods required for producing a large number of vegetables such as artichokes, eggplants, beets, onions, peppers, cabbage, and radishes are given. Others are more general and explain the overall elements of seed production: how to select varieties and the steps for extraction, washing, drying, and sorting. Some of the fundamental processes of seed production, such as pollinization, which are largely misunderstood by public are also covered.
Even if you don't feel ready to produce your own seeds yet, the tutorials offer a wealth of interesting information in high audiovisual quality.