Seeds | The Lexicon of Sustainability | PBS Food



In the last century nearly 75% of our agricultural crops have disappeared. Traditionally, farmers would save and share these seeds with each other, but now, most seed production is controlled by just a few companies. Vandana Shiva explains the importance of protecting the culture and biodiversity of seeds. ItÂ’s what she calls seed sovereignty.

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Food Terms

Seed bank
A place where seeds of various crops and wild plants are stored in an effort to maintain agricultural diversity in a particular region.

Seed sovereignty
The farmer’s right to breed and exchange diverse open source seeds which can be saved and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants.

Seed swap
A gathering held by community farmers and gardeners to exchange seeds in order to maintain biodiversity.

Someone who advocates preservation of the diversity of seeds available in regions due to the traditional and ecological values of the plants.

Genetically modified organisms that are in most of what we eat here in the United States.
– LOCAL: The New Faces of Food and Farming in America, by Douglas Gayeton

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Featured in the Film

Ron Joyner
Big Horse Creek Farm
Lansing, North Carolina
Ron and his wife Suzanne run a small diverse apple orchard. They specialize in the collection and propagation of antique and heirloom apple varieties of the Appalachian Mountains as well as many other apple varieties of the world.

Sara McCamant
West County Community Seed Exchange
Sebastopol, California
Sara McCamant is a long term local food activist, garden educator, and seed saver in Northern California. She helped co-found the West County Community Seed Exchange in Sebastopol. She also works with Seed Matters, an initiative of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, coordinating their Community Seed Toolkit program.

Vandana Shiva
Navdanya (translation: nine seeds)
Delhi, India
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a scientist and environmentalist. She combines resistance to giant corporations seeking to privatize and own seed and water with building alternatives so that the basis of life stays in the commons and supports all life.


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