Food Fight and Seed Bombs*

“Seed is not just the source of life. It is the very foundation of our being.”  – Vandana Shiva

 If the name Vandana Shiva doesn’t ring a bell, you probably don’t know jack about why saving and sharing seeds from your organic produce is the ultimate act of rebellion against the corporatocracy.  No matter.  Just know that this food fight is anything but a frivolous venting of teenage high spirits.  In fact, with California’s drought worsening and threatening crops, and Monsanto scoring big in legal battles to continue privatizing nature, the timing couldn’t be better.  If you eat, this fight is your fight. Consider yourself enlisted.

Vandana Shiva 2Dressed in her beautiful saris and signature bindi, physicist, author, ecofeminist and seed activist, Dr. Shiva hardly looks the revolutionary. But spend a few minutes in her company – there are plenty of videos to choose from – and she will make a powerful case for why you absolutely must 1. Support your local organic farmer and grow what food you can sustainably and 2. Save your seeds – see links below on how to do that – and/or start a small seed-sharing circle. The goal is nothing less that long-term food security and reclaiming your rights as a world citizen.   It is food democracy that benefits everyone in the food chain.

“We need to build the direct relationship between those who grow the food and those who eat it. Care for people has to be the guiding force for how we produce, process, and distribute our food…We need to shift the paradigm of economics to measure the well being of people not the profits of the oligarchs.”

Shiva’s organization, Navdanya, is a network of seed keepers and organic producers across 16 states in India. It has helped set up 54 community seed banks across the country, and has trained half a million farmers in sustainable agriculture. According to Dr. Shiva, these actions were also aimed at stemming an epidemic of farmer suicides as farms and livelihoods were lost to Big Ag’s invasion of India.

Maybe farming isn’t in your blood or your future. Perhaps converting a patch of your lawn into a vegetable garden isn’t your thing. Don’t expect an automatic deferral. You can still be a part of the support corps, carefully conserving seeds from your produce — easy in the case of squash, pumpkins, melon and peppers – and a little more challenging with tomatoes. Tip: just cut a small section from the next great organic tomato you eat and put it in a pot to sprout. More specifics from Organic Gardening. Organic potatoes and sweet potatoes give you a clue about what to do next by sprouting conveniently in your vegetable bin. Plant one in a pot and follow these directions from Container Gardening.

All of this seems pretty mild mannered as revolutionary action goes, although you may encounter some strong resistance from HOA’s that love pouring your money down the drain (into the water system) to maintain large expanses of grass, or communities hell-bent on upkeeping standards of conformity.   (Backyard chickens, hold the fort.)

seed bombYou could waste a lot of time fighting city hall.  So here’s one of my favorite weapons of grass destruction: the seed bomb. These come in many forms – balls of clay embedded with seeds and organic fertilizer, eggs filled with the same, and seed pills, all the above in miniature.  These little projectiles are perfect for challenging locations, “spontaneous floral attacks,” and vegetable gardening below the radar. You can carry a seed bomb (or pill) in your pocket and launch an attack of edible landscaping in the least expected public places. Think of this as a time-bomb that does some good in the world. Sneak back for the harvest, if you dare.

*Seed bombing is a technique of introducing vegetation to land by throwing or dropping compressed bundles of soil containing live vegetation (seed balls).

More good reads:,1


More Techno-Fixes for a Hot Planet?

What’s Good for the Navy * Louis CK, Truth-Teller * In My Own Backyard

OK, I admit it. I squandered the first hour of my Monday writing day on Facebook, and I have my daughter’s post to blame for it. Seems that the US Navy has developed technology to convert seawater into energy. The headline: The U.S. Navy Just Announced the End of Big Oil and No One Noticed.  Because the ‘no one noticed’ resonated, I decided to check out the source of Justin “Filthy Liberal Scum” Rosario’s article. But first, I read the comments. Whoa! If we could only tap the energy of all that misplaced rage.

You won’t be surprised that the Navy’s April 4 press release is anything but emotional, but it made my heart beat a little faster just the same. Here’s the lead:

WASHINGTON (NNS) — Navy researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, demonstrated proof-of-concept of novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

Wow, party on!

Louis CKSo let me put this in the context Louis CK’s recent Oh My God monologue (we’re huge fans of his in my humble abode).  Of course, the Navy’s NRL technology is an energy hog, but maybe no more so than tar sands technology or fracking, when you add back all the externalities like health impacts and clean up costs after accidents, to name just two. Of course, there’s a Plan B for Planet Earth, but maybe we would be better off not counting on business-as-usual. (Not everyone is, incidentally, see IKEA’s big investment in wind energy, snide comments aside.)

This past week, I screened the urban farming documentary, Growing Cities, at my UU congregation and at the successful urban intervention, C’est La Via: Rethinking the Alleyways, as part of my work to get traction for Transition Palm Beaches. (If you’re interested in having me bring it to your organization or school, give me a shout at yogimarika at gmail dot com.) The comment I always make by way of introduction isn’t original with me, but I keep repeating it because it just makes sense: even if climate change wasn’t already disrupting life as we’ve known it, switching to a slower, lower-carbon, localized, community-centered life will make us happier and healthier, and contribute to environmental justice for all. By the same token, even if a techno-fix is just around the corner and we could continue to live our high-powered, fast-paced, mindless, wasteful lives, transitioning offers an alternative that more and more people, by choice or circumstances, hunger for (see Blessed Unrest). That’s the Plan B I am putting my faith in.

Food-forest-garden-1500 × 1125In my own backyard, plans advanced this week for our composting experiment and planting of a mini food forest. Edible landscaping! Bring it!

Here’s what my minister, CJ McGregor, just posted on Facebook:

Imagine growing our own avocados, mangoes, guava, papaya and other tropical fruit…..right here in our congregation’s back yard. Imagine abundance and offering fresh and organic fruit to migrant workers and their families. Imagine children who are hungry when school is not in session being offered a place to help grow and enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. Imagine inspiring the next generation to understand and respond to the real and devastating effects of climate change such as food shortages. Imagine the connections. Imagine vacant spaces on our campus becoming a grove of plenty. Imagine healing a bit of our community.


What the Frack?

Climate Fixes and Plan B’s: The IPCC’s Guide

Cinderella Technologies

The Energy Collective

If You Build It…

First, it was avocados we’d have to learn to live without.  Now, it could be coffee.  I like both…a lot, but I have an inkling that when coffee starts getting as expensive as Dom Perignon, it just might spark a million person save-the-biosphere march in Washington.   Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

coffeeI’ve been around long enough to remember a few marches, and even marched myself.  Sometimes, it had the desired effect, e.g. the anti-Vietnam War that effectively ended it.  Civil Rights, although it didn’t wipe out racism.   The equality for women movement, although we still earn significantly less than men.  As a participant in the 2013 Walk for Our Grandchildren, I feel solidarity with student protests against the KXL pipeline, even though marching is nowhere near enough.  In fact, perhaps it draws time and energy from more practical things you can do to reduce your personal carbon budget.

For our local Bike to Work Day last week, a friend of mine rode her bike 10 miles to and from her office, over an hour each way.  She was sore and elated.  Who wouldnt be?  But like a march, this is a one-off, a gesture, more demanding than recycling our plastic waste but, in the long run, less effective than, e.g. giving up driving entirely; stop flying; shopping only at thrift stores; growing your food; creating a sharing network, time bank, or Transition Initiative.

As if the news (well, it was hardly that!) wasn’t dire enough, I am concerned that it might spawn an outbreak of fatalism.  One of the most chilling quotes came from Mark Bittman’s Op-Ed April 1: “I guess I can stop worrying about my grandchildren,” as in, it’s now time to worry about ourselves.

In response to the latest IPCC report, Rob Hopkins did an amazing roundup of Transition activities around the world, what seems to be working, what isn’t quite there yet, and what could be more effective.  I urge you to click on the link and read it in its entirety, especially if your spirits, like mine, are in the basement.  For one thing, there are now over 1,000 Transition Initiatives, and 75% of them consider themselves successful.  An independent study noted that:

“… these initiatives have been shown to be effective in bringing about behavioural change and in helping to establish new norms in society.  The wider application of these approaches must, therefore, be seen as an essential element of any broader strategy on climate change.”

And this is being accomplished with “a markedly non-adversarial approach.”  It’s Gandhi-like, modeling what is possible and letting people see that it works, and how it works.

“The most radical thing sometimes that you can do is actually vote with your feet and vote with your dollars,” says Andy Lipkis, founder and president of Los Angeles-based TreePeople, quoted in an interview with Hopkins.  “We’re hacking the system and making it so much better.”  This would be worth doing even if climate change wasn’t on our doorstep.  If you build it …