living and cooking for the planet, for the health, for the animals

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And the sad game goes on – Agropoly

Last week’s news: German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer AG has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion. The tie-up of two of the six largest companies for agricultural chemicals and industrial seed (alongside Dupont, BASF, Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta) would result in the world’s biggest company in agricultural production. The question that arises now is: what does this mean for food sovereignty and seed sovereignty?

A conventional farm becomes habit-forming of the agricultural chemical producers and suppliers and international agricultural trade corporations (Nestlé, Unilever, Mondelez, etc.) as purchasers of their products. Especially the pesticide producers Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta have, of course, an interest that alongside of the cultivation of their plants also their pesticides must be used.

“Food sovereignty” emphasizes the access to agricultural inputs such as land, seeds and water, and emanate from the right of all people and nations to define their own agricultural and food policies. However, because of the nature of capitalist industrial agriculture there are no free lands or areas. It deprives the planet of energy and other commodities, and it impacts the climate.

Also the “seed sovereignty” suffers from this trend. The industrial agriculture does not use locally adapted varieties and does not promote it either. On the contrary: Due to the proliferation of hybrid seeds and due to property rights on seeds  which prohibit the reproduction and seed exchange between farmers (in Europe the TOP 5 own half of the patents on plants) the conventional seed market is growing rapidly.

The acquisition of Monsanto is basically a 62-billion-dollar bet against a required change in agriculture, a change that argues against concentration processes within the separate sectors of feeding stuffs, livestock, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Bayer is betting that the industrialization of agriculture continues with more and more factory farms, genetic engineering and pesticides. But we do not want a mega-corporation, which has a monopoly on our food and promotes the industrialization of agriculture.

The point is rather to promote the proliferation of antique seeds and an agriculture that is not based on chemistry and mechanization but on biodiversity. This includes organic farming and permaculture. Food should be primarily produced and distributed regionally rather than exported to rich countries. Especially people who suffer hunger and malnutrition need to get access to resources such as land, water and seeds. Everyone needs to have the opportunity to feed him/herself in dignity – whether auto-productive or not.




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All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of yesterday

Plant seeds are small miracles: they contain all the genetic material of a plant, they can fly and swim. They survive heat, fire and cold. They can also spend years in a deep sleep and travel hundreds of kilometers. After some or all of these stresses and strains they germinate to grow again to a complete plant. What a miracle.

If we cultivate plants we take control over the seed process by, firstly, collecting seeds, secondly, store them carefully, and, thirdly, put them in the soil and let nature do the magic. But can we do more? Yes. We can prepare the best fundament by mixing the perfect soil which, by the way, we don’t buy, but mix ourselves.

What you need is very simple. You need to follow a basic principle of 60, 30, 5, 5. It takes 60% of the top thin layer of forest soil, 30% of your basic or “mother” soil which you find in your garden, 5% of wood ash and the other 5% organic fertilizer (e.g. “Deltafert stallatico super” which is 100% biologically active humified bovine and poultry dung).

The top layer which is the “forest floor” is composed of fresh and partially decomposed litter that has accumulated over many years. It contains whole or fragments of twigs, leaves, seeds, bark, and wood. It is full of organisms and most of the nutrient cycling happens here, making it a very important part of the overall functioning of the ecosystem. For this reason it makes 60% of our recipe.

The 30% “mother soil” is a good mix already and has a moderate organic matter level and iron oxides. Wood ash contains potassium (which regulates the plants’ water balance) and also calcium (which the plants use to build cell walls and membranes). The use of cattle manure is a popular practice in many rural areas, and this has a reason: among other things, it contains beneficial bacteria, which convert nutrients into easily accessible forms. Sounds like a good support for a germinating seed!

There are many recipes for mixing good soil and it always depends on the plant you are planting, because a vegetable’s seed is different from an herb or flower. However, we had good experience so far and I recommend it plAntily 🙂