The first pieces of flair I added to the garden early last year was a collection of bird and bee houses that I affixed to the left front side of our ramshackle shed. Recently, high winds have been knocking them off and when putting them back up I happened to notice a few stray baby yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia) and a big egg case affixed to the back of one of the houses.
Since then I’ve been watching eagerly to see if there was any movement. And look what I discovered today…
This morning, a group of farmers and organic seed growers have gathered at a hearing in New York City to present oral arguments as the first phase in what could turn out to be an historic lawsuit brought against biotech giant Monsanto.
The suit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto, was brought as a pre-emptive suit by a group of 83 co-plaintiffs that seeks, in part, to protect themselves against the alleged patent infringement suits that they fear they will face if their seed becomes contaminated by transgenic (aka GMO) genetics.
“According to the Public Patent Foundation, Monsanto has one of the most aggressive patent assertion agendas in history. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts.“
“All truths point to a universal truth; all the divisions of nature are closely akin to one another.”
Rancho la Puerta is a mostly media-free retreat that provides guests the opportunity to unplug from television and Internet for a week, as much or as little as they choose to do so. In its place, the ranch offer movie nights and an extensive book and music library that guests can patronize during their stay.
I brought plenty of books to last me through the week, as I do on all trips, but recognizing that they were primarily connected to work in some way, I ended up setting them aside in favor of some light fare that I found in the library. However, as a plant and nature nut, the line between work and play is nearly impossible to maintain. I could not help but find my way over to the library’s Baja ecology resources and guidebooks as I required help in identifying the foreign flora and fauna that lives on and around the ranch. I simply could not wait until we got home to begin researching the life nearby.
While in the library, Davin took some photos of the older books, and it was through him that I was introduced to “The Human Side of Plants” by Royal Dixon (1914), an early predecessor to books like The Secret Life of Plants that tried to uncover and prove sentience in plants scientifically.
We are excited about hosting a wild bee nesting box in our new garden as a part of a study on wild bee populations in urban habitats that is being conducted by Scott McIvor through the Packer Collection (PCYU) at York University. You can see how the nestboxes are constructed here.
We can’t wait to see if any bees take up residence in the little paper cells. In his enthusiasm, Davin started checking hours after the PVC box was installed. Needless to say there are no bees yet but I did see one resting on our compost bin and another came out of a hole in the ground as I was digging up sod. We are also curious to see how general insect populations change as we introduce more diversity to what is currently a plantless yard.
Scott is also tracking cavity nesting bee populations on green roofs. If you have a green roof and would like to be involved you can get in touch via TO Bees.
Seed buying and seed starting season is upon us. It won’t be long now (let’s pretend, even though the snow outside says otherwise) before we’re happily knee-deep into the growing season.
Yesterday, I put out a call on Twitter for an online list or chart of garden companies (as well as makers of garden products) affiliated with Monsanto. Several people replied, hoping to find something similar that they can refer to when making seed and product purchases for their own gardens.
It’s time to have this talk, and even though I have brought it up here and there, I am remiss in having neglected to post about this until now. It seems like many of us are flailing around, trying to make heads or tails of who, what, and where is profiting on our excitement to grow our own food and flowers. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a more definitive list that covers affiliate companies in the garden product spectrum beyond seeds, but considering the way things are going, seeds are a great place to start and one in which our spending dollars can make an impact.
The following link goes to the Council for Responsible Genetics Safe Seed Resource List that includes all of the US and Canadian seed sellers that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge affirming their commitment to non-genetically modified seed. While you’re there, I would also urge you to read through the CRG’s FAQ that makes an argument for why we should care about genetically modified seed and buying GM-free in the first place.
I was also pointed to another page put together by a concerned gardener that includes a list of some known GM seed sellers to avoid, as well as links to additional articles around the issues with Monsanto.
I’d love to turn this page into a resource that we can all refer back to and am happy to add to it over time. If you know of any interesting articles, companies or products to be avoided, or have anything to add, please comment below.