Monday, 29 April 2013

Allotmenteers should swap seeds not buy them (#journal)

Deskilling, agrodiversity, and the seed trade: a view from contemporary British allotments

Historically, quality control standards have had the perverse effect of restricting the circulation of non-commercially bred vegetable cultivars in Britain. Recent attempts to compensate for this loss of agrodiversity have relaxed genetic purity standards and the cost of seed marketing for designated “Amateur” varieties. Drawing on fieldwork conducted at a British allotment site, this article cautions against bringing genetically heterogeneous cultivars into the commercial sphere. Such a move may intensify the horticultural “deskilling” of British allotment gardeners. The activities of dedicated seed savers who circulate the seed of genetically heterogeneous “heritage” varieties, in a manner similar to the management of landraces in the global South, may provide a better model for attempts to safeguard vegetable diversity.

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