Declaration on Seed Freedom

by Ken Greene

Seed Freedom and The Commons

Seed saving workshop at the HV Seed Library Seed saving workshop at the HV Seed Library

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This weekend, thanks to the Omega Institute, many of us in the Hudson Valley had the opportunity to hear world-renowned scientist, environmentalist, and seed activist Dr. Vandana Shiva speak. The conference theme, "Building the Collaborative Commons", brought together many individuals and organizations with a stake in the commons including concerned citizens, business leaders, educators, students, politicians, environmentalists and activists.

Meeting Vandana Shiva- a seed-saver's dream come true! Meeting Vandana Shiva- a seed-saver's dream come true!

I'm so grateful to Omega for extending an invitation to the Hudson Valley Seed Library so that we could learn from the many speakers and participate in the discussion. For me, meeting Dr. Shiva in person was a touching honor. After a decade of working on seed issues for our region, I felt reinvigorated to continue our work preserving, developing, and celebrating seed diversity.

As part of her presentation, Dr. Shiva encouraged everyone to get involved in the Seed Library and challenged us all with the idea of creating a Hudson Valley Seed Freedom Zone. We're here to champion this initiative along with you.

Jars of seeds at the Seed Library Jars of seeds at the Seed Library

Another activist participating, Premilla Dixit Nag, asked Dr. Shiva if she would meet with farmers in our region before she traveled on to her next event. Premilla and Omega organized an impromptu gathering for growers and farm activists in the Hudson Valley. I was honored to be asked to present alongside Dr. Shiva to lend local perspective on the global issues of corporate seed consolidation, Genetic Engineering, and the patenting of life.

Out of this gathering of more than 30 farmers, gardeners, and food activists came the question, "What does Seed Freedom mean for the Hudson Valley?"

This is a question we've been addressing for the last 10 years. Despite being told by big industry "professionals" and seed "experts" from both public and corporate seed entities that it was "impossible" to have seed sovereignty in our region, we have persevered. What to them is an impossibility because of the mass-industrial corporate model, to us is a necessary challenge worth taking on.

We have developed the skills, built low-tech infrastructure, grown a catalog of diversity for our region, and connected with a devoted following of gardeners and farmers growing with our local seeds. What we still need to cultivate is a community of growers with the skills and dedication to help us maintain and increase the diversity of seeds adapted to our region.

A corner of the seed farm with arugula, radishes, peas, Chinese cabbage, garden cress, lettuce, and parsnips going to seed. A corner of the seed farm with arugula, radishes, peas, Chinese cabbage, garden cress, lettuce, and parsnips going to seed.

Out of our inspiring time with Dr. Shiva we agreed that the first step would be to create a Declaration of Seed Freedom for the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley Seed Library signed Vandana Shiva's Declaration on Seed Freedom years ago. As a collective I'd like us to review the declaration and see if there is anything we'd like to add, change, or clarify to make it as regionally adapted as the seeds we grow.

You can find a link to the Declaration on Seed Freedom here.

Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments. We'll put them together and work on any changes to send back out to the group. With this in place and agreed on, our next steps will be to share the skills necessary to create a network of seed stewards. Kota, Vandana's son who also spoke at the gathering, has invited the Hudson Valley Seed Library to collaborate with the Seed Freedom website and network to create a series of skill-share videos demonstration low-tech seed saving. We'd like all of you to take part!

Thank you to Omega for bringing us all together and to Dr. Shiva for being a powerful global voice against the corporate takeover of food and a continuing inspiration for local movements like ours.

To get involved, please fill out the Seed Freedom sign-up form below and share this with anyone you think would be interested in helping to rebuild our regional seed commons.

In Seed Solidarity,