A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of seed saving and the work of seed banks such as the World Vegetable Center. I want to share a wonderful update from the world of seed saving that I read recently. According to this article in The Guardian, the Cherokee Nation is depositing seeds from nine of its most culturally important crops in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed repository known as the “doomsday vault,” located deep in a Norwegian mountain above the Arctic Circle.
Various seed banks have been destroyed due to war, natural disasters, and the affects of climate change, losing precious crop seed forever. The carefully built Svalbard vault stores backup copies of acquisitions from seed banks all over the world with the intention of preserving crop diversity for thousands of years. The Cherokee are depositing seeds from four types of corn, four types of beans, and candy roaster squash (a delicious variety that we grow at Dandelion Ridge Farm!). These crops have been integral to Cherokee culture for many generations.
Incredibly, the only other seeds from an indigenous community in the Svalbard Vault are potatoes from the Quechua people of the Andes. Indigenous peoples around the world domesticated most of the food plants we all know and enjoy, and many varieties that are vital to their diets and ways of life. Hopefully there will be many more of these seed deposits to come.
Packets of Cherokee white eagle corn seeds. Photograph: Stephanie Remer/Cherokee Nation Communications. Photo Courtesy of The Guardian.