Saturday, December 20, 2014

Farm Bulletin: Purity That's Above Reproach

Seeds are the kernels from which farm families derive their livelihoods, a vital resource fostered and selected over many seasons for flavor, hardiness and quality. Contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm was recently asked to submit some of his hard-won flint corn seed for testing, and reluctantly gave some up for that purpose, not out of fear of what might be found out, but because each one is a precious commodity, the end point of years of work.

We produce our own seed for many of the vegetables, legumes and grains we grow, reselecting each year for better traits and quality. This summer, Brian Campbell and Crystine Goldberg of Uprising Seeds asked if they could include some of our varieties in their 2015 seed catalogue. We agreed and the next thing you know, they need to check our corn seed for genetic contamination.

Is it good enough?

It was with a heavy heart that we posted seed to them knowing that those beautiful kernels would be completely destroyed and then probed for any violation of their purity. The reason we grow food is knowing the pleasure it gives the people who eat it, not to have it suspiciously handled by an uncaring and unloving lab technician.

We have recovered, but it took a psychic toll. For what it is worth, the purity of our Amish Butter and Roy's Calais Flint is unchallenged, free of any corrupting genes. We knew this intuitively from working with the corn so intimately, but the cold, clinical diagnosis provides additional validation of our effort. Ultimately, though, it is not the negative—non-GMO—that we are striving for, it is the lovely, rich flavor those two varieties of corn bring to the table. We are glad that we are of a mind with Brian and Crystine on this substantive point.

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