A Seedy Situation
By Berenice Quirino – Lake County Record-Bee, 1st July 2015
Finley >> A Finley farmer traded some green been seeds for pinto bean seeds with an Upper Lake farmer. The two just committed a crime.
“This is a long practice in the country and has been going on for 10,000 years when human beings began doing gardening and agriculture,” said Verge Belanger of Upper Lake.
But California law that went into effect on Jan. 1 now prohibits farmers from simply exchanging seeds with people who live more than 3 miles away from them, unless they adhere to the same strict packaging and quality control standards as large corporations.
“Around this lake where people are so far apart, it’s kind of a silly, arbitrary limit,” said Roberta Actor-Thomas, of the Lake County Food Shed and Big Valley Grange president.
On Wednesday, protesters gathered at the grange in Finley to participate in the Seed Freedom Day, an event held all over the state of California.
The Lake County farmers traded a rainbow assortment of seeds: purple dragon heirlooms, yellow squash, black Aztec corn and white pumpkin to name a few.
It’s a diversity the dozen or so participants want to maintain.
“They are limiting diversity. Diversity is what runs the planet,” Ron Kiczenski said. “If we can’t trade seeds like our ancestors did, how are we going to keep that diversity and tradition alive?”
AB2470 was passed by the California state legislature last summer.
“[It] was intended to be a weed abatement bill,” California Grange President Bob McFarland said, “but in black and white the bill goes far beyond that purpose and becomes another set of onerous regulations that undermine the work of small farmers.”
Actor-Thomas said they want the state to take out the 3 mile limit and modify the line that says “sell includes offer for sale, expose for sale, posses for sale barter or trade” to specify it applies to large commercial seed sales companies.
“They are not exterminating weeds, they are exterminating the seed sharing tradition,” she said.
Photo by Berenice Quirino – Lake County Publishing Verge Belanger (left) gives seeds to Susan Novak (center), Ron Kiczenski and Rae Ebi-Carl at the Big Valley Grange for Seed Freedom Day.
More information: http://www.times-standard.com/opinion/20150625/grangers-californias-latest-seed-law-downright-seedy
Webpage with more details: http://www.californiagrange.org/seeds/#
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/427977860714698/
More info: https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/angry-farmers-will-protest-dangerous-seed-law