Living Supercomputers: The Story of Seeds

There are hundreds of thousands of seeds. Many of us are not even able to recognise the corresponding seeds of the food we eat. The average botanist could at most identify some hundreds of them. While studying agriculture in university formally, I passed some practical seed identification exams. I observed that seeds from the same family look quite similar; even those who deal with them on daily basis might get confused. But the beauty of the seeds is that they never lose their identity.

One thing all seeds share in common, no matter how similar or different they seem from each other, is that once they’re put in soil they manifest their true identity. They are tiny but living supercomputers, with sophisticated genetic information and programming. They know the best times to germinate, flower, fruit and mature, and accommodate biotic and abiotic challenges. They have inherited sensors which sense the optimum temperature, light, humidity and other external conditions to pick the best moment to open their winged cotyledons and fly into the air remaining deep rooted.

Traditional communities have always revered their seeds. They are always considered as source of fertility and divinity. They protected them throughout the ages and passed on the strongest, tastiest and best seeds to each next generation with deep understanding of pedigree, which are what we now named as heirloom or native seeds.

Seeds also remembered, inherited and adapted to the local climate, rain, drought, pest attacks and other conditions which occurred during the various stages of a plant life-cycle. The inherited intelligence of the traditional seeds help their offspring to better handle all adverse conditions. This is why local and heirloom seeds are more resilient to climate change and adversities of climate.

It is also being demonstrated that seeds have many sense capacities; detecting conditions of the soil, climate change, people who raised them and the micro-climate where they are grown. They are, in fact, more intelligent and responsive than we tend to consider. You may notice that often, acquired seeds take time to acclimatize to new places. Doesn’t it seem meta-physical in nature, to consider that seeds are tiny but living supercomputers?

Save your local traditional seeds

Ask your elders for the plants which have survived the green revolution and allow them to continue optimizing for their environment. Sow, share, swap and save local seeds with other local gardeners so that you’re able to grow those which have been surviving and thriving under unusual and extreme weather conditions. In return, they will be there to nourish us as climate conditions become more and more unpredictable.

It is this relationship between the farmer, the seeds and the land which creates abundance. Yet if we don’t respect the intelligence of our collaborators, how will that affect us? Perhaps we already see the answer playing out each season when crops are failing.

By cherishing the intelligence and genius of the local seeds, we can improve these statistics and once again live in flourishing communities with diverse, delicious and well adapted food crops.

It all starts by honouring the potential and the intelligence which each seed bears.

Collect, hunt and share these tiny supercomputers! Support their evolution so that they may support ours. They are the greatest gift, and by respecting what they have to offer, we can again live in reverence and enthusiasm for their wisdom and capacity for advanced regeneration.

This piece is written by Vipesh Garg with editing and contributions by Naomi Joy Smith.

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