Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For the Love of Green Goliath

I am always really excited this time of year when the seed catalogues roll in and I can discover some items that perhaps I know little about or have never grown before (although as I grow more and more I am surprised less and less).

There are also some staples that I don't always save enough seed for, so I depend on certain seed companies' willingness to continue to offer my tried and true favourites.

So it was with great dismay that I opened my hot-off-the-press William Dam catalogue today and saw— horror of horrors — that they don't offer Green Goliath Broccoli anymore! To many people I'm sure this doesn't sound like a big deal. It is only broccoli. But to me it is the broccoli.

I have tried many, many open-pollinated and hybrid broccolis over the years and for me, on my soil, this is the standout. Imagine if you couldn't buy your favourite wine anymore, or your favourite snack food. To me, it is that bad.

So, onto Google I go. Seeds of Diversity lists other companies that (used to) carry it, but from what I can tell, all Canadian seed companies, and a good number of American ones have dropped it. I ended up ordering a whole whack of it from Oregon of all places, so if anyone is interested in trying it I will have a bit of extra seed for sale.

Thank goodness, though, it is open-pollinated. Now I know I have to save seed from it for next year because it seems clear to me that one day in the not too distant future, it may not even be available in Oregon and I will need to be self-reliant in producing and saving this seed if I want to have it.

There really are so few good open-pollinated broccolis that losing this would, in my humble opinion, be tragic.

New broccoli hybrids are popping up everywhere, but if I choose to love one of them, then I am reliant on seed companies. I can't save and reproduce hybrid seed and, of course if I found a hybrid I loved nearly as much as Green Goliath and the seed company dropped it, back to more trials.

So many wonderful varieties of vegetables have been lost over the years — most varieties, in fact. This loss of diversity is tragic and an reliance on huge multi-national chemical and seed conglomerates is scary in its own right.

I choose to offer support to and sell seeds for Seed Savers Exchange, based in Iowa, because as an organization and a movement, they have done more to bring vegetable varieties back from the brink of extinction than any other organization worldwide. Many small seed companies would have limited offerings if Seed Savers had not done all their good work first.

Some people bristle at the fact that this organization is not Canadian and I sell their seed. But good has no borders. Proceeds from the sales of this seed goes back into this non-profit organization so they can continue with their mission to stop this loss of vegetable diversity and circulate the seed as widely as possible.

I have been to Seed Savers Heritage Farm in Iowa several times and am always so taken with the level of commitment and expertise of this organization. I am so pleased to be a member and to list seeds in the exchange, as well as offer some fabulous seed for sale. I grow all varieties I offer and have for years. Try some yourself. You only have to buy it once — then it is yours to save and safeguard forever!
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