Friday, July 4, 2014

Seed Alliance set to kick off July 10

‘Open Sesame’ to screen at nexStage Theatre

Express Staff Writer

     The burgeoning local agriculture movement in Blaine County will get down to the basics of food security issues next week when a group of seed activists celebrate the founding of the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance.

     The organization will be dedicated to propagating and preserving seeds from fruits, vegetables, herbs and other plants from the Rocky Mountain region.

     To celebrate the kickoff, it will hold a reception and screening of “Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds,” a documentary about the importance of saving heritage seeds from extinction in the face of corporate domination of the seed industry.

     The free reception will take place at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on Thursday, July 10, at 6 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. screening of the film. Tickets cost $10 and are available at Chapter One Bookstore, or by contacting www.

     “During the last 100 years, 90 percent of our vegetable varieties have gone extinct,” said Sophia Maravell of the Brickyard Educational Farm, in the film.

     Food activist Vandana Shiva, author of “Making Peace With the Earth,” expressed the urgency of saving seeds in the face of increased efforts by corporations to genetically modify and patent seeds.

     “The long-term goal of the seed industry is clearly to control the food supply,” Vandana said.

     Local food activists are working to preserve their own plant varieties for future generations. Using a small anonymous donation, local Wood River Valley seed savers John Caccia, Miles Teitge and others began to save seeds earlier this year from many plant varieties. They held workshops, conducted seed garden tours and established a seed library at the Hailey Library.

     “I call us the Green Berets of seed saving,” said Caccia, who grows garlic and owns a jewelry shop in Ketchum.

     Caccia’s group recruited seed expert and former Wood River Valley native Bill McDorman to serve as Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance director.

     McDorman founded the Seeds Trust in 1984 and has been teaching classes in wild, edible and medicinal plants and seed saving for more than 25 years. He has consulted on more than a thousand native landscape projects and frequently speaks at native plant and seed conferences throughout the West.

     McDorman is featured in “Open Sesame,” emphasizing the importance of seed saving.

     “The real crime is that you have forgotten that you are in control,” McDorman said. “You have an infinite power in a handful of seeds.”

     McDorman and his wife, Belle Starr, will hold a question-and-answer session after the film screening.

     On Saturday, July 19, from 9-5 p.m. at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, McDorman will teach “Seed School in a Day,” a workshop about seed saving.  The cost is $75. For more information, call 928-300-7989.

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