Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Adapting to Climate Change: Saving Seeds for Our Future

As the planet continues to warm, we’ll need hardier crops that will actually survive a hotter, drier environment in order to continue feeding the world’s growing population—and the tiny selection of produce the average supermarket stocks just isn’t going to cut it.

Several non-profit organizations are freezing seed varieties so that we don’t lose them forever, but they may just be storing seeds that are frozen in time—plants that may not be able to survive in a changing climate. That’s why author Gary Nabhan (Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods) and Native Seeds/SEARCH believe their most important work is planting and cultivating seed varieties in order to make sure these plants remain viable.

From PRI’s Marketplace:

SAM EATON: I’m in a tiny Southern Arizona town called Patagonia. And it’s hot. About 107 degrees today. The hills around me are parched and brown. But the field I’m standing in pulses with life.

Suzanne Nelson is conservation director for Native Seeds/SEARCH. It’s a nonprofit that saves and distributes seeds from ancient Southwest crops like maize, beans and sunflowers.

Many of the plants now thriving on this 60-acre seed farm are the same ones southwest Indians cultivated here long before Columbus.

SUZANNE NELSON: This is a brown Tepary bean. It’s got a pretty large tap root. And the leaves will actually fold up on each other so they’re shading each other and preventing water loss through the leaf surfaces.

Qualities that enabled these early crops to survive in the hot Southwest deserts. But today they may hold even more value.

Nelson says plant breeders are racing to craft new seeds that can withstand the heat waves and diseases of a warmer planet. And some of the genes in these ancient heirloom crops may hold the answer.

Peter Bretting is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plant gene bank program.

PETER BRETTING: We have found genes for resistance to diseases or insects in genetic materials where we would not have suspected it to be until we tested them.

Bretting says the world’s enormous diversity of heirloom crops is like a vast library of unopened books.

Unfortunately, scientists like Bretting may never have a chance to study many of them. That’s because farmers across the world are swapping out regional varieties for only a handful of high yielding crops sold by international seed companies.

Gary Nabhan is author of “Where Our Food Comes From.”

GARY NABHAN: Globally, we are losing crop varieties as fast as we ever have.

Take apples. Back in the pioneer days the U.S. had more than 7,000 named varieties. Today that number has fallen to around 300.

The USDA’s Peter Bretting says once those seeds are gone . . .

BRETTING: You lose another tool out of your toolbox. You lose another option.

Read the whole article here.

 

Related Articles:


What’s a Carbon Sink?

World leaders met in Marrakech this month as part of COP22, to discuss the next steps to reducing global climate emissions. One of the solutions being discussed is carbon farming. Author Eric Toensmeier participated in COP22, in part, because he literally wrote a book on it. First off – what is carbon farming? It’s a […] Read More

The Seven-Point Protocol for a Lean Economy

In the future, what will our local economies look like? How will they function if there is little, to no, state or national support? The late David Fleming envisioned a post-capitalistic society that we could call “deep local” — in which all needs are met at the local level — from income to social capital […] Read More

Happy Holidays from Chelsea Green Publishing!

Today we kick off our Holiday Sale — with 35% off every purchase at our online bookstore. Simply use the code CGS16 at checkout from now until the end of the year. Along with this great discount, we are offering free shipping on any order over $100*. Are there homesteaders or organic gardeners on your […] Read More

Sex, Violence, and Figs

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are the fig trees. Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles in the dawn of civilization. They feature in every major religion, starring alongside Adam and Eve, Krishna and Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. This is no coincidence – fig […] Read More

10 Fascinating Fig Facts

“As our planet’s climate changes and reminds us that nature really does matter, the story [of fig trees] has important lessons for us all.” –Mike Shanahan In short, fig trees are awesome. They have been around for 80 million years and during that time they have shaped our world and impacted humanity in profound but […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com