Posts Tagged ‘Seeds’

Posted on September 26, 2011 - by

Got a Brandywine Beauty? Save the Seeds!

A lovely tomato from a FRESH supporter’s garden

Perfectly ripe heirlooms in a perfumed cascade of colors—who doesn’t love a juicy summer tomato? Little wonder that the French nickname these beauties pommes d’amour, or “apples of love.” As the weather gets cooler, the last of this year’s harvest is coming to an end. However, you can still reap the benefits of a bountiful crop next year by saving the seeds. Here are some tips on how to harvest seeds from tomatoes so that you can enjoy them once again.

  1. Take a fully ripened tomato and cut it in half. Scoop or squeeze out the seeds and juice into a small, labeled container. If done carefully, the tomato itself can be saved for eating, sun-drying or canning.
  2. Add a little water to the container so that the seeds can float, then loosely cover it and set it in a warm place for 3-5 days where the odor will not bother you. Stir or swirl the mixture once or twice a day. The seeds will ferment and mold will grow at the surface. This mold is your friend; it eats the gelatinous coat around the seeds that stops germination. It also produces antibiotics that prevent disease.
  3. The viable, mature seeds will sink to the bottom. Pour off the excess water and solids at the top. Add more water and repeat this step until the seeds are clean and the water being poured off is almost clear.
  4. Spread the seeds onto a paper towel or plate and let them dry for 1-3 days. Keep them away from direct sunlight. Stir them to make sure they do not dry in clumps.
  5. Store the seeds in a dark, cool place in an airtight container. Don’t forget to label them with the name, variety and date you saved them!

Do you have tips on how to harvest and save seeds from your garden? Share your ideas and leave a comment below!

By the way, if you have ever wondered why supermarket tomatoes taste like cardboard, check out our review of Tomatoland. This new book discusses the seedy underbelly of Florida’s industrial tomato industry, and its environmental and social costs. It’s a must-read for anyone who has eaten or plans to eat a tomato.

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Posted on June 18, 2010 - by

Seeds Of Life: Open Pollination (video)

There has been tremendous interest in a past post written about Monsanto’s ‘gift’ of hybrid seeds to Haiti.  I thought we should follow up with a bit about exactly how pollination works, to grasp the immense implications of gifting hybrid seeds to a country like Haiti. – Lisa Madison, FRESH

Guest post by Cooking Up a Story

Organic Seed Breeder, Frank Morton Working In the Field; Wild Garden Seed, Philomath, Oregon

Continuing with our Seeds of Life series, Willamette Valley organic seed breeder, Frank Morton, explains the benefits of open pollination in plant breeding, and the important role for farmers in the selection process to continually improve plant varieties for better local adaptation.

In open pollinated plant varieties, pollination can occur from the pollen of related species that sometimes travel great distances (as measured in miles), by insects, wind, and birds.

Open pollinated plants can be selected over time to breed a desired mix of traits, and the seeds from these plants can be reused over successive generations with highly favorable results. In particular, Morton says, organic farmers want organically bred seeds, that is, seeds which are designed to work well in an organic system. Organic farmers place a strong emphasis on maintaining soil fertility, and do not use commercial fertilizers, and other chemicals to artificially boost production yields. Organically bred seeds, may be bred for roots that travel deeper through the ground to acquire the necessary supply of nutrients that a healthy plant may require. By contrast, an organically grown seed, means only that the seeds were grown on organic soil, but will not have been bred to do better under an organic farming system.  Keep Reading….


Posted on June 15, 2010 - by

The Fight Against Monsanto in Haiti

On June 4th, 10,000 peasant farmers gathered in protest in Haiti to burn over 400 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds donated to the country by Monsanto.  This was a hugely symbolic gesture and one that the rest of the world needs to listen to. Haiti is asking for our help in establishing a local, sustainable food system from the rubble that the country currently lies in.  This is our opportunity to raise our voices in protest against Monsanto’s involvement in the fragile beginnings of true food sovereignty in Haiti.

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend a Brooklyn church’s community meeting I heard peasant farmer Leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) share the concerns of Haitian peasants regarding Monsanto’s donation hybrid seeds.  I was greatly moved by his words and I want to share them with you. Below are the highlights from his speech.  Please note that the quotes are not exact as Jean-Baptiste was speaking in Creole and his words were translated into English.

  • Hybrid seeds are a poison gift.  They don’t reproduce, and therefore cannot be shared among a community.  Haiti does not yet view seeds as a commodity like the US does.  These hybrid seeds threaten the cultural fabric in Haiti because they break the cycle of food sharing.
  • Jean-Baptiste believes that Monsanto has taken the opportunity of the recent earthquake in Haiti to intentionally introduce the seeds and destroy Haitian agriculture, creating a dependency on Monsanto each season for new seeds.
  • If the Haitian government accepts Monsanto’s seeds, rather than trying to build a system of food sovereignty, the Haitian farmer will become a day laborer, working for industrial farms.  This would completely transform the economy to an industrial system instead of working to support farmers through a local economic system.
  • “We are an occupied country and want to recover our freedom, starting with food sovereignty.  The struggle against Monsanto is not a small thing – they are extremely powerful.  We need to unite ourselves – this is a global struggle.”
  • “Haiti is essentially road kill, and not even road kill that can serve as proper food.  We are at the point that the dogs and vultures are tearing us apart.  Companies like Monsanto are devouring what is left of us at this point.”
  • “This is a country that is used to struggle.  We will fight and have the capacity for resistance, particularly when the threat is to the very fabric of our country.  A large population of Haitians do not yet understand the implications of the relationship with Monsanto, many have never heard of the company before.   The first task is to educate. “

I received a handout at this event that I can’t seem to find online that has a number of important and informative facts regarding Monsanto and Haiti.  I’ve scanned it and made it available – you can VIEW HERE.

There were also three letters that we were asked to sign.  Please feel free to download, sign and send.

Thank you for listening, eat safe!

Lisa Madison
FRESH Distribution & Outreach Coordinator

photo from Ian Hayhurst on Flickr


Posted on January 5, 2010 - by

Seeds of Life: David Vs. Goliath

This post and accompanying video, the first in a new series called Seeds of Life, was originally published by our friends at Cooking Up a Story.

In an ongoing David versus Goliath legal battle, Frank Morton, an organic seed breeder in Philomath, Oregon, along with the plaintiffs listed in this lawsuit, have successfully sued the USDA and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), for failure to require an environmental impact statement (EIS) prior to deregulation of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sugar beet plant. In the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Jeffrey S. White ruled on September 21, 2009 in favor of the plaintiffs— Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, and High Mowing Organic Seeds— requiring that APHIS prepare an environmental impact statement, and setting in place the remedy phase of the trial, scheduled to begin today (December 4) to decide the fate of next year’s transgenic sugar beet crop.

This interview took place this summer prior to Judge White’s September ruling in favor of Frank Morton, and the other plaintiffs.

This ruling marks a resounding renunciation of the USDA/APHIS 2005 decision to deregulate and thus allow the unrestricted commercial development of “Event H7-1”, a Glyphosate tolerant sugar beet engineered by Monsanto and the German company KWS. Deregulation opened the door for transgenic sugar beet production in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world. The judge ordered that an environmental impact statement be conducted because USDA/APHIS failed to adequately consider the impact on the environment from stated cross contamination concerns, and the socio-economic impacts on consumers (eaters), farmers, and other market participants over the question of the continued availability of non-transgenic sugar beet crops.

In 2006, most of the sugar beet production was from conventional seeds but the Roundup Ready transgenic variety increased sharply in 2008 to about 60% of production, and rose again this year to estimates as high as 95% of the total U.S. market. The United States is among the largest producers of sugar, more than half comes from the production of sugar beets. Most of the U.S. sugar beet seed is produced in the Willamette Valley, where between 3000-5000 acres of sugar beet seeds are grown each year. The sugar beet plants grown from these seeds occupy areas of the western and mid-west regions of the country; the largest concentrations of (harvested) acres are in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan.

From Frank Morton’s perspective, his livelihood depends upon the ability to produce organic seeds that are not contaminated with transgenic genes spread from neighboring GMO related species of plants. In the Willamette Valley, an elaborate, but voluntary system exists to coordinate the growing of a diversity of crops to prevent the accidental cross-pollination and contamination that can occur naturally between related species. In the case of sugar beets, Morton’s Swiss Chard organic seed is commercially threatened by neighboring GMO sugar beet plants; the tiniest of contamination if it were to occur, would prevent him from selling his Swiss Chard organic seeds to his customers here and abroad. In addition, the introduction of any GMO crops into the ecologically unique Willamette Valley without a thorough environmental impact study sets a dangerous new precedent for more unregulated transgenic crops to follow.

For more, click through to Cooking Up a Story.