Former Shows & Episodes

The Manic Gardener

Kate Gardner

The Manic Gardener – A New Kind of Seed Bank

Why would an organization dedicated to preserving our seed-saving heritage not save seeds? And why would such an organization concentrate on developing new seeds? And why, oh, why would a graduate program in breeding plants focus so exclusively on genes that most students in it can’t tell a rutabaga from a dandelion?

My guest this week is Jared Zystro, who describes how a catastrophic fire helped the Organic Seed Alliance realize that the best way to preserve seeds was by teaching others to save them. The fire may or may not get credit for the Alliance’s decision to fill the widening gap between gardeners raising heirloom varieties and farmers growing GMOs, but out of the fire arose, phoenix-like, the OSA’s new mission: to develop seeds for organic and sustainable agriculture.

But that’s just part of the program. Jared starts by talking about his subversive role as an organics-booster in a traditional plant genetics graduate school program, and ends with some seed-saving advice for the back-yard gardener.

We’ll hear also from Josh Kirschenbaum of Abundant Life Seeds, which was originally the commercial division of Organic Seed Alliance, but which has become the organic arm of Territorial Seed Company. (Yes, it’s confusing.) Josh personally starts every single seed for Territorial’s extensive seed farms and eats vast quantities of vegetables in the process of choosing which should go into their catalogues.