Okay, so I'm gonna plant a seed--not a real one this time, but an idea. See, the thing is, I honestly don't feel that we value seeds enough. Don't get me wrong, I definitely don't want to see the price of seeds go up, but I'm saying I really think most of us don't see just how powerful a seed can be--let me explain.
So many of us look for a way to invest (stocks, bonds, GIC's, etc.) Well, what about seeds? If you had 1 dollar and knew that you needed food, you could spend that one dollar on a tomato. You might eat the entire tomato, which is alright because you're hungry and hey, who doesn't enjoy a ripe juicy Brandywine? But let's say you decide to spit one of the seeds out and save it to grow next season.
Okay, so you could have saved 50 seeds and still eaten the tomato, but for the sake of easier math, let's just do one seed. So next year you plant the seed and get 20 tomatoes. You could have gotten 30 or more, but again, let stick with the easier math. This time you take out 10 seeds per tomato (cause you learned from last year that this might be a good idea). So for year number 2 you have 200 tomato plants. In year 2 of growing, (let's just say it's a slow year) each plant produces an average of only 5 tomatoes--I think you see where I'm going with this. What's the average return on investment for mutual funds? Ten percent? Twelve percent? You remember you started out with a 1 dollar tomato and by the end of your second year of growing, you have 1000 tomatoes. No matter which way you slice it, that is an amazing investment. Yes, I know, you need to find enough pots and potting soil to plant them all in (no you don't, just plant them in the ground), and you need to water them (well yes, although nature does a fair bit of that herself, and there are ways of conserving soil moisture), and you need enough space for all your plants (OK so how many square metres of lawn are in your neighbourhood? How about concrete?)
The message here is that investing a small amount of time, money and energy in fruit production pays back big time, and this can be done with so many fruit varieties, but so few people are doing it! If you think my estimates might be a little on the high side, well I suppose once in a while you might have a bad year or choose a less-than-productive variety. However, as an example, I spent about $5 on good seeds this year. That's all. Once my plants were just around 2 feet in height, I gave away about 30 of them to neighbours, friends and family. I kept only 9 of the very best ones and composted the rest. So out of those nine plants, I ended up with over 50 pounds of tomatoes this season. So $5 basically helped feed myself, my neighbourhood, and family this summer--now that's a good investment.
So much of our food comes from planted seeds and so many seeds end up being thrown out or wasted. Just think, right now a lot of the food that will be on our plates next year is in seed form somewhere out there now--I hope someone is going to plant them!
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Ted Bahr is the founder of Prairie Sage Permaculture. MORE