Monday, January 24, 2011

shredding oranges... but can we grow them?

I got the blues
thinking of the future,
so I left off and
made some marmalade.
Its amazing how
it cheers one up
to shred oranges
and scrub the floor
D H Lawrence
(from Sophie Munns’ journal)


Hollie Chastain


Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), from Tacuinum Sanitatis (15th c.)


Festival of Sekhtet, Nakht’s tomb




(via laboomeria)
People have been cultivating plants for a very long time... 
certainly thousands of years... so long as there was somewhere to
plant seeds... or propagate a plant ...then people have been growing 
plants for all manner of purposes....for all kinds of sustenance.

I just read a story that made me wonder what kind of arrogance and 
idiocy would drive a government to sign a bill to make it illegal
to grow food in one's own back yard? A bill that would outlaw 
gardening and saving seeds!
Please take a few minutes to read 
this post that I put up at the 
homage blog 10 minutes ago. Sorry 
to be bossy about this... but if 
you enjoy your art, your lovely 
home and fine food ... then think for 
a few minutes about the consequences
of a bill like this... and what 
happens when it is picked up in 
another country and another!
Some things should not be put off!
What do you think?

update from last night:
Thank you to all who communicated, sent links 
and emailed to participate in an important dialogue..

And thanks to bloggers who went the extra mile and tracked down 
links to put perspective onto this issue which has collected energy
as it has been disseminated out into the ether. Like the proverbial 
chinese whispers in some cases the story was changed beyond 
However should you care to read the Bill: 
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the safety of the food supply 
the link was sent in by 2 bloggers... in summary form from Sharmon 
of true adventures of an art addict and in full from Egmont of 
the artist within us to the homage blog.
It was well put by Sharmon:
I was extremely alarmed by what I read in your email, so I did a bit of research. For the most part, it seems to be an 
internet hoax, thank goodness. The bill exists, but most of the claims made by Natural News are false. According to 
snopes, which is usually very reliable,(, the bill contains nothing 
about home gardeners, seeds, or organic farms. I read a summary of the bill at (
congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-510&tab=summary), and that appears to be true. 
However, the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund ( sees it as 
over-regulation which will put an undue burden on small family farms. Thanks for bringing it to may attention; I will 
research it further. But believe me, if I thought the bill would effect our right to grow gardens or save seeds (both 
of which I do and intend to continue), I'd be picketing on the front steps of the Capital Building.

This comment answered some of the questions at the top of the my
list ... however it must be noted that there is quite a difference 
in reading the summary as opposed to the complete Bill sent in by 
Egmont...I suspect many trying to read this bill would find themselves 
wondering anxiously if they might be missing something! 

What struck me most about this entire story after it came to my 
attention yesterday was that we're poised to expect bad news from 
the transationals gobbling up control of global food markets. Many 
of us have taken on board the fact that it is indeed illegal in 
some parts of the world to grow food from seeds saved locally, 
according to traditions extending back generation upon generation. 
Food sovereignty is a huge issue. 
The fear accompanying this story I picked up yesterday is not coming 
for no reason. And if we, for even a moment, thought about what 
it might feel like to lose our food sovereignty we can be present 
to the issue that is already out there for some...
as a chronically harsh reality served up because there was no power
to intervene... or perhaps understanding to see the need to!


(via thiswillhurt)
posted at seed capsules

This image from the previous post is quite apt for this discussion. 
There's huge fear surrounding peak oil, peak water and peak food...
 population growth and climate change. Some put their head in the 
sand and say its not happening, its not coming!
Others are sponges and seem to soak up all the information and ideas
that are circulating and of course this can be too much!
We can easily be overloaded like we were here in the recent floods
that many are still dealing with. In our vulnerability we often
recognize the suffering of others... so the challenge to stay on 
the one hand open and receptive and on the other not overwhelmed 
and fearful. 
To 'Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity' is a bold act 
because it suggests venturing up to meet what's coming rather than 
hiding... but with a willingness to discover/uncover new ways 
to partipate in the challenges and possibilities of our time!

Lets keep the dialogue happening... sharing knowledge is vital
in this time of increasing velocity and complexity of change. I 
really appreciate everyone coming by and taking a moment to 
reflect, add something, walk away even with new resolve to watch 
what'happening more closely.
Go well,
S x


ArtPropelled said...

My mouth dropped open reading about this prospective new bill. It couldn't possibly happen here in a country like Africa because this is how we survive. I'm actually gobsmacked! Thanks for drawing our attention to it Sophie. It is going to cause quite a buzz at the dinner table tonight. Love the DH Lawrence poem. He has been a favourite of mine since school days.

Anonymous said...

Im so pleased your reaction was similar to mine Robyn.
Really i was busy dong other things but had to go straight and blog about it.
Its bothering me the immensity of the proposal and that Im not hearing anything!
Glad you are taking it to the table.
The perfect moment to post that poem... GREAT to hear your thoughts!
Bon appetite!

Printed Material said...

I had to read that post twice to make sure I wasn't getting the wrong message. What draconian measures!! That will surely never become law? I couldn't imagine gardening without sowing seeds I saved from last year, or from using ones my friends sent me, or the vegetables from the Heritage Seed Library. I hope the people who have the right to protest against this are mobilised into action. Lesley

Anonymous said...

Hi Lesley,
Thanks for leaving your comments today.I hope you get to read the comments over at the homage blog.

There's been a range of feedback that is presently looking like - at worst - small operating farms may be saddled with the burden of over-regulation from changes in legislation. I dont say that lightly mind you... that has serious consequences... small operators are more attuned to sustainability and biodiversity. So if that in any way undermines that sector than I think it is still, significantly, not good news

There is a lot of caution being expressed where people are saying it appears not to affect the back-yard story and seed-saving. Whilst commenting it appears there is nothing problematic for back yarders thats part of the policy ..... one can detect a certain discomfort about the policy language and will want to see how it does play out before being convinced there's no need to worry.

So... we can breathe out... for now!

Apparently there is a huge amount of discussion circulating around misinformation and mis- understanding of this bill. It was quite difficult to get information one felt was reliable. So bloggers were most helpful!

My feeling yesterday was that if it was that major... that back-yard gardening and seed-saving would be made illegal.... why was I just hearing about it now.

Having said that though.... Monsanto and Co have such a critically unethical track record... yet inevitably manage to get legislation passed... in the US, at the World Trade Organisation, even in Iraq .... so that I think many are poised to think the worst! People seriously believe this company is capable of anything... and no community would be spared if they set their sights on it.
That belief has not come out of nowhere.... so vigilance.... awareness ...
continuing the good practices of gardening, saving seeds, valuing our seed heritage... thats important...
enjoy your gardening Lesley and thank you for stopping in,

Carolyn said...

Dear Sophie,
I couldn't believe what I was reading and went on to read the two articles. It seems so far fetch and so impossible...although sometimes things that seems so far to believe do come true!
That is too scary for words.
Are they afraid that keeping our own seeds that theire could be a mutation in the future plant as when a vegetable self-plant? Surely they are keeping seeds the same way....

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks for commenting Carolyn!

Interesting you ask those questions... Its actually difficult for me to comprehend why an entity like Monsanto and co would want so much control of everything, everywhere.... and with such cultural disruption and anger coming back at them.
Thing is ... we only live for a short time really... we cant take our money with us... I often try to fathom what satisfaction they could possibly derive from the kinds of strategies they live by.
But I guess this phenomenon is known through all of millennia and mythology...

The fact they make people sign contracts to keep buying seeds each season means they have made people reliant on them... quite simply. If we save our own seeds and regenerate them each year... we dont need this company necessarily.

People end up in debt often to these companies... they trap people .... and the US is said to be rife with farmers already in this position... let along people in other parts of the world.

The critical thing I could say is that we once were far more connected and responsible for the food supply that kept us alive... over several decade or more we've lost sight of our food security needs ... well those of us in comfortable lives have!
While we weren't looking ...a lot for shady deals were made in the name of progress.

We need to take much more notice now.


Elaine said...

Sophie, I just love both of your blogs and want to thank you again for sharing your visual art with us as well as your passion for seeds and saving seeds for our future and our children's future. I gained even more appreciation for seeds and seed saving since reading your blogs and that is why I have awarded you a "Stylish Blogger Award" via my blog. You inspire me as well as so many others. Thank you!

layers said...

love the DH Lawrence quote- and there are a lot of whacky people on Capitol Hill these days...

Sophie Munns said...

Good to hear from you Donna...
it is a good quote ...very zen really!
I had a chuckle at your second comment!