What seed saving can tell us about the end of the world

“In fewer than 100 years, seed-saving, a practice that had always been essential to human survival, went from mainstream to something most of us are barely aware of, something happening at the fringes of our food culture — small farms, Native communities, survivalists,” write Kea Krause, in FERN’s latest story, published with Orion Magazine.

“Yet all of a sudden, or so it can seem, this loss of agricultural diversity is being felt keenly, as climate change makes the need for experimentation with plant breeding at the local and regional levels important again. Because a crop that has grown for decades in one region may soon be much less viable there. Corn, for instance, faces an uncertain future in Iowa, the country’s leading corn producer, due to the increase in extreme weather events, like derecho storms. The arid western Plains are shifting east, which further threatens corn land. And in California, which produces most of the fruits and vegetables Americans eat, rising heat, drought, and wildfire are driving efforts to shift some of the state’s agricultural burden elsewhere.

“To address climate challenges like these, we need to wrestle the practice of seed-saving back from the fringes and into the everyday. And in many places, efforts to do that have already begun.”