Friday, August 28, 2020

We interviewed one of our JVGB mentors here and Janet starts off talking about gardening with her father and her family’s use of the garden bounty. The knowledge is passed from generation to generation, L’Dor V’Dor. In my garden, I think about what will pass along from season to season, my annuals vs. perennials. It is also this time of year when I start to think about what I want to do differently next year and about where my seeds will come from.

Generally, when plants get stressed they think about reproduction and create seeds. Watching the life-cycle of a plant over the season is fascinating and educational. Before being overwhelmed at figuring out if your parent plants are open pollinated or hybrid, or their specific genus and species, I suggest start with saving a seed you might eat, not that you are planning on breeding.

Here are some excellent resources from Northeast Organic Farming Association. Cilantro tends to “go to seed” quickly when it gets hot, and cilantro seed is known as coriander.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on my cleaning and winnowing technique. Tomato seeds are a bit more complicated, as the seeds are enclosed in a gel-like sack that contains growth inhibitors, nature’s protective shell for the fruiting process. A fermentation process to save these seeds is surprisingly easy. Here’s a video that demonstrates the steps.

The other reality is that as our food system becomes increasingly industrialized and globalized, seeds are now owned by multinational corporations, and patent protection looks like intellectual property law. Four seed companies now control more than 60% of global seed sales. Saving seeds is an act of local sovereignty, and seed banks and seed swaps allow for both local ownership and more diversity in our options. Choosing seeds from the plants that are the most robust will better enable us to adapt to climate change as it is those seeds that are adapted and thriving in a local environment that are then reproduced. National companies tend to offer generic seeds adapted to industrialized methods.

As Jews we prioritize maintaining our legacy as a people, our religion, culture, family stories and recipes. There cannot be ownership over maintaining a legacy, either through passing of knowledge or genetic material. Seed saving is an essential act of local resilience as much as growing your own vegetables is.

During Elul, as we contemplate our relationship with all of Creation here and now, we must also think of the next generation.

Shabbat Shalom,

Leora Mallach
Co-Founder and Director
Beantown Jewish Gardens

P.S. Looking forward to seeing you at our next JVGB online meetup on Tuesday September 1st.

ח׳ באלול ה׳תש״פ (August 28, 2020)