As I'm learning about regional seed saving in the Northeast, I'm coming across more articles in the mainstream media about seed saving. The NPR blog The Salt just reported on a team of archeologists who discovered and confirmed the existence of stone cultivation tools, ancient grains and a possible farming community of sorts in an area of Iran, near the Iraq border. From the article:
Before long, they hit pay dirt: The sediments were rich with artifacts. "Sculpted clay objects, clay cones, depictions of animals and humans," says [Nicholas] Conard [archaeologist at the University of Tubingen].
[Simone Riehl, an archeologist] confirmed that the grains were indeed varieties of lentils, barley and peas. She also identified a range of nuts and grasses, and a kind of wheat called Emmer, known to be a commonly grown crop in later centuries throughout the Middle East.
But most of the grains Riehl looked at were pre-agricultural. "They were cultivating what we consider wild progenitors of modern crops," says Riehl.
In other words, 12,000 years ago, people were simply taking wild plants and growing them in fields. They hadn't started breeding crops yet, selecting varieties for yield and other desirable qualities.
It's also interesting to not only learn from the past, but also discover how individuals are seed saving to preserve edible and cultural heritage and improve food security, sovereignty, farmer equity and adapt to changes in growing conditions. Dr. Debal Deb in India is one such individual; he's saved 920 varieties of rice that he stores in a community seed back. He's profiled in the short film The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist. Take a look: