Welcome to Fedco’s 44th Year!

It’s been more than two decades since Gary Nabhan first challenged himself to get all his food from within a 250-mile radius in Arizona. This idea was picked up by James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith, who narrowed their scope to 100 miles around Vancouver, and then by Barbara Kingsolver, who focused on eating only what she had grown in Appalachia. From these trailblazers the term locavore came into the vernacular, and we started to learn the litany of all that has gone wrong with the industrial-food system: that much of our food comes from 1500–3000 miles away, depleting aquifers for irrigation, using fossil fuel to run large machinery, exploiting workers, and using more fossil fuel for transport. That distance also obscures the specificity of one’s particular breakfast melon, with many a child thinking it originates in the supermarket.

In Maine we are fortunate to have the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to advocate for local food. Food “with a face, a taste and a place” is a common lens through which we understand our food networks. But what about our seed?

Silvia Davitz, the Vermont customer who recently provided us with stock seed, once advised, “The logical next step for the local food movement is to establish locally grown seeds.” For seed is the foundation of food, and we will have no food security until we develop our relationship with seed. Canada’s Bauta Family Initiative has understood this from its inception, investing in small-scale seed farmers. Across the pond, folks in the UK and Ireland just held their first Seed Gathering where the excitement was palpable as people took seed back into their own hands, even while grappling with the law that allows only “registered” seed in the marketplace.

It once was common wisdom that local seed is resilient seed, developed in concert with local conditions—rainfall amounts, temperature fluctuations, seasonal length, pests, diseases. Local seed doesn’t depend on as much fossil-fuel transport or supply-chain vagaries, both of which are starkly inescapable problems we face today.

In our continuing exploration of one of Fedco’s foundational queries—“Do you know where your seed comes from?”—we are focusing in on seed grown closer to home, as well as sketching a typical vignette of one seed from each of our numeric Supplier Codes. Admittedly it’s only a snapshot, but we hope to provide a bit of good information for you to make better choices as a global citizen of Gaia, putting down roots in your own backyard.

May you and your gardens thrive in the year to come, growing in beauty, durability and resilience! And may we all dig a bit deeper.

– Nikos Kavanya