In October 2016 Transition Towns Kaitaia showed the ‘SOS – Save Our Seeds’ Documentary & Seed Savers’ Hui. TTK were fortunate to have Colin & Doug from the Localising Food OS Documentary to come and speak both at the film night and a subsequent hui at the EcoCentre.

Ongoing work is needed in Te Tai Tokerau in this field and a subsequent hui has since been held in Kerikeri. Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn is the local contact person. Below she outlines some of the main issues for us:

Actively and firmly protecting the principle that seeds and seed genetic material is a value of “the commons”, i.e. no-one should own it, collectively communities and society should preserve and protect it. A lack of a strategic international seed saving policy has resulted in many species being lost and/or cross polinated, especially since European colonial times. By the 1980’s partly in recognition of this, people were enthusiastically growing anything and everything they could, but there was still a lack of strategic seed growing that preserved and protected critical seed genetic integrity.

There are many levels of seed bank activities, and we need to acknowledge that people are doing the best they can with the knowledge and understanding they have. However, it needs long-term, commitment and strategic effort if seed saving is to provide a valuable service to society and our environment. Many see NZ as world leaders in organics. But in reality, there’s still a lot we can and must do better. Seed saver activists have faced some challenges working with the NZ Government and the media. Years of expert research has been conducted revealing alarming concerns about conventional horticultural methods and low food nutrient levels, and improved seed propagation and associated cultivation practices have the huge potential to restore food nutrition. There are devices that test food nutritional value, but the best guarantee is to source food locally in your community where you know it is grown properly.

To ensure good seed saving systems well into the future, we must re-establish the necessary social connections, networks and relationship infrastructure like we used to have in our communities which supported this essential learning and the practices that go with it. And this needs to be “at scale” in Taitokerau/Northland. It is essential that we coordinate the different assets, efforts and expertise that exist among us. This includes effective communication. We need succession planning, which requires nurturing young people into the various roles required to keep this movement going strong.

Seed Saver Strategic Planning

A lot of strategic planning work has been completed to unpack and address most of these logistical issues including securing community-level support, building relationships and networking, documenting our journey (for educational and training purposes), and resourcing of ongoing activity. We celebrate all seed savers who have contributed to this important work to date, and we look forward to this movement building momentum in the very near future.

If this is something you’d be keen to get involved with contact Catherine via catherinedavis@hotmail.co.nz

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