About Us


about

About Backyard Seed Savers

Founded in 2013 by gardening enthusiasts and food sovereignty advocates Emily and Erik, Backyard Seed Savers was created for those interested in locally adapted, rare, and diverse plant varieties and their conservation. We consider this initiative a grassroots movement of seed savers, as this is also a place for seed exchange and sharing knowledge among others. Whether you are interested in purchasing or exchanging seed, or are looking for information on seed saving and food justice issues, you have come to the right place. Seed saving not only helps to conserve locally adapted, resilient seeds needed to increase genetic diversity and prepare us for a changing climate, it is also food justice in action! Viva las semillas!

Emily and Erik have academic backgrounds and practical experience in ecology, horticulture, organic agriculture, cultural anthropology, development sociology, international development, genetics and plant breeding, agroecology, and food justice movements. This initiative brings together their skills as researchers and practicing agroecologists with their passions for cultivating healthy food and communities and justice in the food system.

Welcome to Backyard Seed Savers! We would love to hear about your interests in seeds and/or food justice. Drop us a line or join the community!

Help us find land so we can put our roots down and grow this seed saving initiative and community! If you have ideas, or are interested in collaborating or donating please contact us.

For information about our organic seeds for sale, please see pages: About Our Seeds and Seed Store.

Some of our beliefs and passions

We don’t believe in patenting life…

We offer our best hand-selected and processed, organic, non-GMO seeds. These seeds are open-source, not bound to any utility patents, and are free to be saved and shared. However, we ask that in order to uphold our commitment to seed sovereignty, purchasers of Backyard Seed Savers’ seed honour our Community Seed Agreement: that the plants, seeds, and genetic traits produced from Backyard Seed Savers seed cannot be patented or otherwise financially or legislatively restricted in their use and distribution.

More than just breeding seeds, saving seed breeds resistance…

The seeds offered here have been open-pollinated for cross-pollinated crops, or grown in diverse populations for self-pollinated crops using an evolutionary breeding model. In a sense, our methods mix natural and gardener selection to allow for locally adapted, resilient varieties. Over time, these varieties can develop into landraces, building diversity into our seed and food supplies. These seeds should be more resilient to environmental changes, local growing conditions, and pest and disease outbreaks. Increasing plant genetic diversity and resiliency is active resistance to the consolidation and corporatization of seed.

We encourage those interested in saving seeds to join the Seed Exchange and offer your collections. In building a community of backyard seed savers growing in unique climates and soils we can increase opportunities for in-situ (in our gardens) and ex-situ (our community repository and Seed Exchange) conservation. Together we can grow plant genetic diversity and build seed sovereignty!

Why Seed Sovereignty matters…

Seeds are life. Restrictions on saving and sharing seeds threaten our wellbeing, as well as the ability of agroecosystems and the species within them to adapt overtime.

Because of the social nature of exchange, seeds are at a key socio-environmental interface. International organizations, such as La Vía Campesina have protested the concentration of seed ownership at the Convention on Biological Diversity because of the restriction it places on the ability of small farmers to access locally, viable seeds, and also because of the ecological/political/social implications of genetically modified (GM) seeds. International organizations advancing the seed sovereignty and food sovereignty movements continue to advocate for international policies that protect global agrobiodiversity. A major critique by such organizations has centered on the consolidation of the seed industry (see Professor Philip H. Howard’s work) threatening local landraces. Seeds are not only crucial for local food security, they are the foundation of agroecological resilience.

To prevent biopiracy and to ensure open access to seeds, several scholars and food activists have advocated for policies that include measures that safeguard and promote the maintenance and development of in-situ conservation. Professor and Rural Sociologist, Jack Kloppenburg, suggests Open Source Seed’ as “a mechanism for germplasm exchange that allows sharing among those who reciprocally share, but excludes those who will not: a protected commons”.  It is this balance of resistance and creativity that is necessary to realize seed sovereignty on a larger scale.

Agroecology

We view agroecology as an alternative agriculture discourse that blends together scientific and traditional knowledge. As a science, a movement, and a practice,1 agroecology is a large-scale solution to issues arising from the industrialization and globalization of agriculture, affecting both the production and consumption of food. Issues such as food insecurity, poverty, climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and the rejection of traditional knowledge are exacerbated by an industrialized and globalized model of agriculture that favours export-oriented production, emits high levels of greenhouse gasses, depends on the extensive use of external inputs, grows crops in monocultures, and expropriates knowledge and resources traditionally held in the commons.2, 3, 4, 5

Small-scale agroecological food systems produce approximately 70% of the food eaten globally, while about 30% of the world’s food is produced by industrial agriculture.6 The promotion of industrial agriculture as a solution to hunger and poverty is misleading, as it encourages farmers to sell commodity crops and be reliant on external markets outside of their control. It also pushes farmers into debt as they become dependent on foreign inputs and plant protected varieties and they forgo their traditional farming systems, and, it reduces farmers’ choice when it comes to the crop diversity needed to adapt to and sustain farmers during periods of environmental stress and climate change. Unlike agroecology, which is tailored to the contexts where it is applied, many technologies of industrialized agriculture are unable to be adapted to the diverse social and ecological conditions of agricultural landscapes worldwide.7

A global alternative to industrial agriculture is small-scale agroecology. As a science, it is a discipline that has studied and expanded the knowledge of agroecosystems influencing agroecological movements and practices, as well as the policies needed to institute an alternative agricultural development paradigm. As a movement, it embodies the voices of small-scale farmers and concerned citizens in resistance to an industrial and export-orientated model of agriculture; and as an agricultural practice, it encompasses traditional knowledge and a myriad of subjective ways of agricultural knowing, as well as scientific tools, that work in tandem to achieve sustainable agriculture.8 In each of these dimensions, agroecology is about “change, and new systems and structures that foster relationships, fairness, access, resilience, resistance, and sustainability.”9 These dimensions overlap, as the science helps develop the practices, which in turn help achieve the goals of the overall movement.

*We practice agroecology in all our food and seed growing*

Agroecology references: 1. Wezel, A., Bellon, S., Doré, T., Francis, C., Vallod, D., and David, C. 2009. Agroecology as a science, a movement and a practice. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 29:503-515. 2. Chappell, M.J. and LaValle, L.A. 2011. Food security and biodiversity: can we have both? An agroecological analysis. Agriculture and Human Values 28:3-26. 3. Conway, G.R. 1997. The Double Green Revolution. Penguin Books, London, UK. 4. Moss, B., 2008. Water pollution by agriculture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London 363(1491):659–666. 5. Rosegrant, M.W., Msangi, S., Sulser, T., and Ringler, C.L. 2007. Future scenarios for agriculture: plausible futures to 2030 and key trends in agricultural growth. Background Paper prepared for the World Development Report 2008. 6. ETC Group, Who Will Feed Us?: Questions for the food and climate crises. 2009. Available at: http://www.etcgroup.org/sites/www.etcgroup.org/files/ETC_Who_Will_Feed_Us.pdf, p.1, Accessed April 9, 2014. (ETC Group notes that there are 1.5 billion small farmers on 380 million farms; 800 million more growing urban gardens; 410 million gathering the hidden harvest of our forests and savannas; 190 million pastoralists and well over 100 million peasant fishers. At least 370 million of these are also indigenous peoples. Together these farmers make up almost half the world’s peoples and grow at least 70 per cent of the world’s food). 7. Clay, J. 2004. World agriculture and the environment: a commodity-by-commodity guide to impacts and practices. Washington, DC: Island Press.8. Wezel, A., Bellon, S., Doré, T., Francis, C., Vallod, D., and David, C. 2009. Agroecology as a science, a movement and a practice. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 29:503-515. 9. Gliessman, S. 2011. Agroecology and food system change. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 35(4):347-349.

What more can be done for Seed Sovereignty and Agroecology?

Support the Food Sovereignty Movement!

While the contemporary food crisis has resulted in a global land grab, this crisis has also resulted in increasing resistance by smallholder farmers, fishers, and peasants, around the world, to the policies and trade agreements that advance the globalization of agriculture. While mobilizing around the complexities of changing agrarian livelihoods in both the global North and South is no easy task, there are many organizations advocating for Food Sovereignty—the people’s self-governance of food systems—which seeks to protect family farms and resist the expansion of large-scale industrial agriculture with more sustainable forms of food production.

La Vía Campesina, meaning ‘the peasant’s way’, developed a food sovereignty framework at the World Food Summit in 1996, based on rejecting the idea that food can be treated as a commodity, valuing qualitative aspects of culture, biodiversity, and traditional knowledge, as well as, advocating for peasant solidarity and the collective rights and ownership over resources. Made up almost entirely of marginalized groups, including landless workers, small farmers, sharecroppers, pastoralists, fishers, and the peri-urban poor, La Vía Campesina merged together with other proponents of food sovereignty, including 150 organizations from 79 countries throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe, to advocate for the decentralization of agriculture, the reconsideration of ‘free’ markets, agrarian reform, and rural development that ensures food is affordable for ALL people.

Together we can promote seed sovereignty by:

    • Decentralizing power over seed by saving it
    • Redistributing wealth by sharing seed
    • Redistributing resources by feeding a neighbour or two
    • Redistributing livelihoods through community
    • Working for equal rights and justice by speaking out!

Seeds are POWER…Plant with caution!

We stand in solidarity with seed/food sovereignty, as well as agroecology supporters and organizations, such as:

Agroecology in Action

Berkeley Food Institute

Community Alliance for Global Justice

Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network

ETC Group

Family Farm Defenders

Food Democracy Now!

Food First

Food Secure Canada

Grassroots International

Groundswell: Center for Local Food and Farming

Institute for  Agriculture and Trade Policy

International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty

La Vía Campesina

National Family Farm Coalition

National Farmers Union

Navdanya

Organic Seed Alliance

Pesticide Action Network

SOCLA

Soul Fire Farm

USC Canada

US Food Sovereignty Alliance

and many more…

 

 

 

 

© Backyard Seed Savers 2013-2016. All rights reserved.