Did you know that the big agricultural corporations have been buying up seed companies and plant breeding institutes? These vertical take-overs will give them an almost monopolistic control of the cultivars available to farmers and gardeners. There are ways to oppose these commercial trends and successfully breed crops for an alternate horizontal resistance at a very local level. For example, look in the Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) information for donated seeds for Russian Banana, Papa Cacho and Purple Sun. These Seed Savers Exchange seeds originated in Potter County, Pennsylvania and to the best of our knowledge might have been made available for the first time. As Kenosha Potato Project curator, Curzio Caravati informs us:
… On the subject of berry setting, you have seen on SSE how many varieties of botanical seed I have collected over the years. Your Russian Banana are the first berries I have ever seen on a fingerling … I have grown La Ratte, French Fingerling, Nosebag, Peanut, and a bunch more with European names like Corne de Mouton, Piekon Muikku [Finnish] … often I have not seen flowers open in a full bloom … so I was really surprised by your Russian Banana success! I need to add: very surprised by your success with Russian Banana because I believe most varieties which are similar in shape and texture to Russian Banana may have spread through Europe from the Northern countries [longer days]. That in my mind justified my failure to produce berries here in Kenosha [lower latitude] … but you proved me wrong as in PA you have shorter days than here.
So, why is sustainable seed production important when growing root vegetables like potatoes and garlic? The sustainable farmer needs to develop new lines of TPS tubers and cloves every 5 years or so to reduce the virus load that builds during multi-generational cloning. And, in time one will select for local resistance to disease and pests; and spread the need of new mini tuber development even longer. We finish up with the following thought:
Find people who share your values, and you’ll conquer the world together [at least our little corner of it]. John Ratzenberger