Shares in The Abundance Pepper Promote Crop Diversity
With growing conditions varying tremendously from place to place, it seems insane that the majority of seeds grown in the US come either from the Pacific Northwest, or Japan, Holland or Israel. Matthew has noted before how saving seeds is a critical strategy for adapting to climate change. Just as open-source programming makes for better software, so a living network of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders is our best bet for maintaining a dynamic and secure gene pool of crops for our future. Now a charity that I am involved with is offering a chance for folks in the Carolinas and the South East to give the gift of diversity by purchasing a ‘share’ in the Abundance Pepper as a gift.The Abundance Foundation (whose work with local agriculture and renewable energy I wrote about before being asked to join the board) has been concerned for some time that our region lacks a viable seed industry. And even though some farmers and gardeners save seed, there is hardly the kind of culture of seed saving that we need to create a critical mass of regionally adapted crops. But what if we could revive the culture of saving, and swapping, seeds? What if we all played our part as custodians of our heritage - growing crops and developing them to suit our soils, our climates and our palates?
For some time The Abundance Foundation has been supporting the seed saving work of local farming legend Doug Jones – a man on a mission to preserve and develop unique regional varieties of vegetables, from sweet potatoes to garlic to peppers. (If you ever have a question about the lifecycle of a vegetable – sit down and talk to Doug!) During a recent board meeting, we decided we should take this work a step further, offering folks the chance to support Doug’s work by purchasing a ‘share’ in the Abundance Pepper. The result is an Abundance Pepper gift pack that’s available for purchase online, including a share certificate that can be dedicated to a friend or loved one, as well as a packet of seeds so they can keep the Abundance growing themselves.
The response has already been fantastic, with online orders coming in as soon as we posted information - it seems there is a real hunger for and interest in truly regional varieties. Maybe we're getting sick of those seed catalogues after all? I'm certainly hoping these are going to take off as holiday gifts among our community’s foodies, gardeners and anyone with a stake in the future (or a taste for a killer fajita!) – although the offer will remain available into the new year too. And I’m looking forward to seeing these growing in my neighbors yards and fields and flower pots – and to swapping descendents of these seeds decades from now.