Acting on a suggestion put to me in the Centre for Holistic Studies, then in Bandra, I spent six months gathering information which recorded patterns of life consistent with a just and sustainable culture in Britain. In the 1997 summary I noted:
Practical work is ongoing: some people volunteer to protect and conserve woodlands, wetlands, hedgerows and meadows; plant varieties are being preserved in seed banks and societies have been established to propagate rare animal breeds.
I visited the Heritage Seed Library set up by the Henry Doubleday Research Association, which works to safeguard rare vegetable varieties, once commonly grown in Britain.
Far easier to access and use is the farmer to farmer seed bank, featured by Devinder Sharma recently. He includes an article from the Deccan Herald about Vijay Jardhari, a farmer from the Dehradun region who exhibited more than 100 varieties of beans and many types of vegetables of his region at an organic fair in Pune.
His example inspired Ishwarappa Banakar of Hire Yadachi village of Haveri district in Karnataka to create a seed bank of traditional millet strains at his home – the first millet seed bank set up by an individual farmer in the state. Banakar’s collection includes 25 varieties of jowar, 30 of finger millet, and 10 of foxtail millet.
CHS is aware of the dangers of allowing totally free access to such information from personal experience, confirmed in many of their database reports. One example:
The companies producing genetically engineered crops, for example, have spent
billions of dollars on buying up seed banks, altering their contents, then
advertising and distributing their new products.
As Sharma reminds us, 2010 is the United Nations’International Year of Biodiversity: “It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity.”
Jardhari and Banakar didn’t wait for an invitation.