Growing food is as old as, well, human civilization. The right to grow, harvest and save seeds is an integral and necessary part of that process. Since the invention and implementation of the monoculture food system, that process has begun to change. No longer can seeds be saved, legally and physically in many of our corporate food systems.
That’s why events like the Seed Exchange taking place at Tri Cycle Farms in Fayetteville on March 8, sponsored Conserving Arkansas’ Agricultural Heritage, is so important. Without the dedicated organizations and individuals around the country working to salvage ancient and heirloom seeds — seeds that have not been genetically modified — many of the foods humans have depended on for survival may be endanger of disappearing.
CAAH, based in Little Rock, is a project of the Southern Center for Agroecology and is dedicated to protecting and improving the genetic diversity of unique heirloom seed varieties. They work with a network of seed savers, small farmers, market gardeners, backyard gardeners and gardening enthusiasts throughout the region to preserve both seeds and agricultural folkways and knowledge.
Traditionally, agricultural heritage was passed down to future generations by saving seeds and exchanging them with growers throughout the region, along with the accompanying stories that give the seeds and growing strategies more meaning. That’s what CAAH tries to recreate with their Seed Exhange program, which they take to 12 major cities throughout Arkansas, from February to April.
This year, their Fayetteville Seed Exchange will be held at Tri Cycle Farms off Garland Avenue across from Sycamore Street (with parking at Trinity United Methodist Church) on March 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone may attend to exchange open-pollinated seeds and food crops, herbs, or ornamentals. If you have no seeds to exchange but want to learn more, there will be opportunities to mingle and talk with gardeners, farmers and seed savers. An informational presentation about seed saving will be held at the beginning of the event, followed by the seed exchange. This is free and open to the public.
The group also has videos and trainings on how to save seeds of all kinds, and videos about projects around the world that work to catalog and save seed varieties that are rare or even extinct to the general public (http://conservingarkansasagriculturalheritage.wordpress.com/videos-2/).
For more information on the Fayetteville Seed Exchange or CAAH, visit conservingarkansasagriculturalheritage.wordpress.com/ or call owner of Tri Cycle Farms Don Bennett at 479-966-0572.