Tuesday 22 September 2009

Organic seeds... & musings

Talking to Neil at Bangors, who is amazingly motivated as an organic producer, has made me reflect on my own beliefs and motivation.

So far, I have grown with organic methods, but not fussed too much about organic seeds. I have avoided any seeds which were treated with fungicide, and specifically bought organic seeds for those crops that are more at risk of GM: corn & soya (potatoes may be soon).

I am not a fan of GM - mainly as I am cynical of the human ability to discern between good and bad in the quest for progress, at least in the short term (examples of insecticides and asbestos may clarify what I mean). Therefore, I am wary of anything that is irreversible. And GM is in my opinion irreversible: pollen and seeds were specifically designed by nature to spread around as far and wide as possible - you cannot confine GM to test fields or any fields where such material is used. For the same reason, I find a bit dodgy any trademarks that go with GM seeds...
... and from a personal choice point of view I do not like at all that GM may well slip into my food without my knowledge (maybe it's because I am Italian and with food I have a special relationship).

Anyway, this is all very good in theory, but in practice it is quite difficult to live by the principles.

In my allotment, for example, I have no control on chemicals or other contaminating materials that may be used by my neighbours. At Riverford Farm they explained that you have to put some barrier between organic & non-organic fields, in terms of some metre's space and 'filter' hedges.

Another example - this is manure time. I have enquired with the allotment manager if we know of its quality: do they use GM food, chemicals or antibiotics at the farm it comes from? I think she simply ignored my email, and I can see why: why bother checking? Not very many care.

So I need some manure or organic compost to fill up the beds, but it would take a good deal of research to find a suitable supplier, without mentioning the logistics to the plot and the cost involved... This is just -after all- a hobby, and even my husband thinks it is a waste of my time, energy and money...

But the thought of Neil and his work is nagging at my conscience, so I decided I will do without manure, making the most of the green one and will count on my compost-heap-to-be for the rest.

And last night I have searched for organic seeds suppliers (I was pleasantly surprised at finding so many in the US!):
I want to steer clear of "fundamentalism" in any shape or form, but I think the way we live is hardly sustainable and often unhealthy: serious gardening, being so connected to nature & the seasons, brings it home strongly. So I will try and do a bit more this year: my crops may not end up organic anyway for external causes, but I want to support the effort made - often by small producers - to be more sustainable.

-- Post From My iPhone

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