04 July 2006

Seeding the future

Has it really come to this? Is the world in such dire straits that we need to lock away our valuables, just in case? We're not just talking about locking your car when parking in a seedy neighborhood. No, we're talking about locking up the world's seeds. The Global Crop Diversity Trust is rounding up supporters to build a huge seed vault.
The high-security vault, almost half the length of a football field, will be carved into a mountain on a remote island above the Arctic Circle. If the looming fences, motion detectors and steel airlock doors are not disincentive enough for anyone hoping to breach the facility's concrete interior, the polar bears roaming outside should help.

The idea is that in case of a global catastrophe, the survivors wouldn't have to wait for evolution to re-invent, say, Thai basil and Italian prunes. You can read about it in this PDF, or at croptrust.org. If we all did a little more backyard gardening and bought a little less corporate-agriculture "food" we could contribute to preserving biodiversity. And no danger of bear attacks!

Driven from some flower and veggie planting by a freak July 4 rainstorm (okay, I live in Washington State, so no rainstorm is really a "freak"), I'm finding global stories of seeds and plants. Though it may be cut short by the US Supreme Court's recent ruling against the Bush administration, Reprieve has launched a campaign to supply Guantanamo gardeners with seeds. The men have apparently tried to start a garden, but haven't been allowed any seeds. "[T]he prisoners have striven to make a garden without their [the guards'] help. One, Saddiq Ahmad Turkistani, told his lawyer: 'We planted a garden. We have some small plants -- watermelon, peppers, garlic, cantaloupe. No fruit yet. There's a lemon tree about two inches tall, though it's not doing well.'"

If you don't happen to have a piece of land to garden yourself, don't despair. Instead, join up with the ranks of Guerrilla Gardeners. Despite the talk of "seed grenades," these guerrillas aren't interested in violence. Just a green revolution. The idea is to sneak plants into public spaces where they are needed: neglected planting boxes, barren roadsides, weedy traffic islands, and the like. In my neighborhood, I've noticed corn growing in roundabouts, and sunflowers next to the new bridge. It's a wonderful and highly recommended random act of beauty.

Finally, speaking of beauty, how about that ending to the Italy-Germany game? Italy looked strong throughout the match today, though I was waiting for that one injury-time counterattack when Germany would poke in the winner. They seem to have such a knack for that. Instead, our little gathering erupted in cheers for the astounding goal of Italy after nearly two hours of play. Then another goal a minute later. The Italians deserved the win, and Germany gets the consolation of playing one more match before the home crowd. Tomorrow we find out whether Italy will face up-and-down France or scrappy, surging Portugal in the final. If Figo can keep from head-butting anyone, my (strictly hypothetical) money is on Portugal. Tune in tomorrow for some head-to-head music.

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