Reviewed by Teresa Woodard
I am planting seeds today with a renewed appreciation for their diversity, cultural heritage and important role in our food supply – thanks to Janisse Ray’s compelling new book, The Seed Underground. This naturalist, activist and poet author encourages readers to be germinators and not terminators of our country’s seed supply and thus food supply. She cites a University of Georgia study that found 94 percent of the seeds offered a century ago are no longer available for today’s gardeners and farmers.
In this award-winning book, Ray describes seeds as “the most hopeful thing in the world”. Imagine a small acorn growing into an 80-foot oak or a bucket of seeds producing a bountiful crop to feed a family. In each chapter, she shares several anecdotes of seed savers – a hand-pollinator of squash, a tomato grower that trials some 1,000 varieties and a Saskatchewan farmer that battled a seed company all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court for alleged corn seed patent violations from “genetic drift”. Ray also adds how-to chapters on seed saving and personal stories from her garden in Southern Georgia.