SEED: The Untold Story

There are few things in life as magical as seeds. A handful of heirloom vegetable seeds weaves a story of people and place over hundreds, even thousands, of years, and whispers of a future still to come. Seeds mean sustenance, story, shelter. Seeds are a physical expression of hope like no other.

To suggest seeds are some of the most powerful things on earth is not an overstatement. As Michael Pollan writes in Second Nature: A Gardeners Education, “Seeds have the power to preserve species, to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity, to counter economic monopoly and to check the advance of conformity on all its many fronts.”

It’s terrifying to think of this power, this hope, being thrown away. According to National Geographic, in the last 100 years around 96% of all the vegetable seed varieties available in the USA have disappeared.  For example, in 1903 there were 544 different varieties of cabbage seed available. In 1983 there were just 27 available. It was this data that inspired filmmakers Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz to make a documentary following the harrowing, yet heartening story of a bunch of passionate seed keepers from across the world. SEED: The Untold Story is both a celebration and a call to arms to protect and defend seed diversity.

“The story of our seeds is a defining story of our time,” suggests the film’s director Jon Betz. “Caught between the runaway juggernaut of industrial agriculture and the ecological, cultural, and spiritual destruction in its wake, seeds offer us a profound chance to restore mutual harmony between people and planet. They are the eternal promise of an abundant new world waiting to be born. But the time for this redemption is running out.”

In telling this story, we aim to bring into clear focus the beauty, hope, and magic that seeds represent for humanity at this critical juncture.”

The critical juncture suggest by Betz is really bloody critical. Chemical companies are now the primary caretakers of our seeds. 10 agrochemical companies (including Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto) now control more than two thirds of the global seed market. They engineer and patent seeds, undermining the ancient practice of seed saving and selection whilst persecuting those who don’t follow their rules.

Seeds are no longer a birthright, a story and a promise handed down through generations, but private property.”

Diversity is in the process of leaving the building. Yes, we still get to eat corn, wheat, potatoes. It’s all currently abundant. The issue is, however, that if we rely on a few single plant varieties, if a disease or pest attacks them, we’re in HUGE trouble. As Betz suggests, “without seed diversity, crop diseases rise and empires fall.”

Watch this film. It’s equal parts eye-opening, terrifying, and hopeful. It’ll make you think about seeds in a whole new light. I hope.

Seeds are life. Save them as you save money. Fill your pockets with them, share them, grow them, harvest them. Keep diversity and hope alive.

SEED: The Untold Story is available in Australia, USA and NZ on Video On Demand via iTunes, GooglePlay, Vimeo On Demand & Xbox