How can we create seed that enriches our community, provides more resilience, and broadens diversity? Landraces!
Historically communities had landrace varieties of locally adapted plants and animals. These were developed over time as people selected for things that they liked and that supported them and their communities. The plants adapted to the natural environment and the cultural preferences of the people who stewared them. However, with the advent of "modern agriculture", there has been a focus on uniformity, something that isn't found in nature. As a result, much of this diversity was bred out of the plants. Making these plants more "marketable" has also made our food supply more susceptible to disease and crop failures.
We are now in a bottleneck of genetic diversity. Combine this with climate change and that much of our food is being grown by a large companies who plant few varieties. We are at a critical juncture. That's where you, your community, and your seed library can make an important contribution to the wellness, joy, and resilience of your community, and be of benefit to the broader community too.
Fall in love with a plant? Work with it. Play with it. Talk to it. Learn about how to develop modern landraces.
, a farmer and seed steward, is working on developing what he called modern landraces. According to Lofthouse, "landrace growing is an intimate relationship between a location, a farmer, and a population of genetically-diverse seed. An adaptivar landrace is a foodcrop containing lots of genetic diversity which tends to produce stable yields under marginal growing conditions. Landrace crops are adaptively selected via farmer choice and survival-of-the-fittest for reliability in tough conditions. The arrival of new pests, new diseases, or changes in cultural practices or in the environment may harm some plants in a landrace population, but with so much diversity many plants are likely to do well under the changing conditions.