Employing an ancient human technology to reinvigorate agricultural biodiversity

The Sacred Science of Seed Saving

Read Seed Money part I here and part II here.

Penn and Cord Parmenter at home, Westcliffe, Co. 2015. Photo: Simon Giebler

“Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told.”
Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

Estancia, New Mexico, April 2016

“Let ’em dance,” says Greg Schoen. “That’s what you’re going to want to do with all of that squash in the collection.”

It’s a cold April Sunday morning at the seed temple in Estancia, New Mexico. I awoke an hour ago in an unheated Airstream to an inch of snow blanketing the arid…


Employing an ancient human technology to reinvigorate agricultural biodiversity

The Seed Temple

Read Seed Money part I here.

Glass gem corn, Parmenter home, 2015. Photo: Simon Giebler

My great great grandchildren / ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
- Drew Dellinger, Hieroglyphic Stairway

Agricultural biodiversity has shrunk an alarming degree over the last century, and what’s lost goes well beyond epicurean variety. What’s lost are microclimatically adapted varieties and, therefore, what’s lost is agricultural resilience, something we could use now more than ever as temperatures rise along with incidents of flood, drought, crop disease and pests.

In the middle of the last century, university-based plant…


Employing an ancient human technology to reinvigorate agricultural biodiversity

The Seed Chest

Parmenter garden, Westcliffe, Colorado, 2015. Photo: Simon Giebler

“In nature’s economy the currency is not money, it is life.”
Vandana Shiva

Fort Collins, Colorado, January 1975

Dr. Donald William Denna scribbled notations on an envelope, dropped a few seeds inside and sealed it. He stood from his desk and winced at the familiar clutch of pain in his chest. Turning, he surveyed the large cabinet set against a perpendicular wall. Placing a finger beneath the cool brass lip of a drawer pull, he opened one of five dozen drawers and placed the envelope among several similar packets.

Squaring chair to desk, he clicked off the lamp and…

Bill Giebler

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