Twenty years ago or so, while living in Freedom, Indiana, My sweet hubby and I were in search of propane to fuel our brand new used propane refrigerator. We were directed to the house of a man who lived, like us, in the middle of nowhere. His name was Kenny Freeman. We found him, and pulled our tank out of whatever vehicle we were driving at the time. (Was it the Volvo wagon?) Either before or after filling our tank, we began discussing Gardening. Joe and I were in the middle of planting our first really huge garden. Kenny took us on a walk through his garden, all the while sharing tidbits of valuable gardening wisdom of the type that only an old farmer seems to compile. (Did you know that if you wipe your shovel off with an old oil rag every time you use it and store it inside it will last forever and never rust?) As we wended our way through his beautiful rows and trellises I came across a lovely yellow cherry tomato plant. When I asked Kenny about it, he plucked a couple of fruits from the plant and handed them to me, admonishing me NOT to eat them. Cruelty of cruelties! How COULD he deny me the exquisite pleasure of relishing these warm golden delights???When I started listening again I realized that what he wanted me to do was take them home, retrieve the tiny seeds from inside, save them until the following gardening season, and plant them so that I could enjoy them forever more.
So, as a dutiful pupil would, I followed all of his instructions and one year later I was blessed with an abundance of the same tiny golden fruits I had fallen in love with in Kenny's garden! Since then, almost every year, by hook or by crook, I have grown, and saved seed from, Kenny's Gold cherry tomatoes. (When I say "by hook or by crook" I mean that at times I have needed to go to my neighbor or my mother to procure fruits for next year's crop. These people grow Kenny's Golds because I foisted plants or seeds on them in the past.) There have also been years when I have relied on semi-wild Kenny's Golds popping up in my garden at random. Nonetheless, for twenty years Kenny Freeman has remained a part of my life.
This is one of the wonderful aspects of seed saving. Almost always, there is a story. This year, in addition to my Kenny's Gold tomatoes, I am growing Cherokee Purple tomatoes and a Black Cherry tomato (that I will probably dub "Tiffany Black") that a friend named . . . you guessed it . . .Tiffany gave me fruits from last year. I also have Gold Plum tomatoes that I may decide to call Nick-n-nic Gold because I nabbed the fruits from a plant that my neighbors in seasonal housing (Nick and Dominic) were growing. In this way my garden serves as a journal of my life.
There are other reasons for seed saving though. Less nostalgic perhaps, but possibly more important. Big business has taken over the business of growing seeds, as it has almost every other aspect of our lives. One of the results of this takeover for gardeners is that diversity is lessening. You see, big companies profit more from hybrid seeds than from open pollinated seeds (seeds that can be saved like my Kenny's Golds) Hybrids may produce larger fruits and veggies, sweeter corn, and various types of engineered resistance to insects or environmental conditions, but you cannot save seeds from them and expect to get the same, familiar fruit or vegetable you got last year. Another nefarious activity these big companies are engaging in is the genetic modification of seed material. They can graft genes from fish or even herbicides into seeds to produce superveggies that kill weeds or survive frigid temperatures. They are mucking about in all sorts of ways that make me think that they think they are God or something. Then, when pollen goes from their field to another person's field and gets giggidy with the plants there, all of a sudden the big company has the right to shut down the operation of the small farmer for "stealing" DNA from the big company's field!!! Also, to top it off, we don't even know what the long term effects of eating these genetically modified plants will be on US! The following video may help clarify things a little bit:
So here is one more reason to save seed. The preservation of a seed stock that we can understand and wrap our minds around, a seed stock that can be perpetuated into eternity, and a seed stock that keeps wonderful people like Kenny Freeman alive in our hearts forever.
Would anyone care for a few Kenny's Gold seeds this year?