Thursday, March 1, 2007

Carrying the seed

From the indigenous communities of Mexico, Fruit Tree Tour has been honored to travel with a seed carrier, bringing ancient Mayan corn seed to schools to plant with children. The schools agree to take care of the corn and provide a sanctuary for the preservation of the native seed, a refuge, in an act of solidarity with the traditional farming communities that are struggling to maintain their ancient ways. The seeds carry a message of the importance of preserving native seeds and the traditional culture contained within. Students learn from the seed carrier about the genetic modification of corn seeds and the effects of a variety of different modifications, including the threats that these modifications have upon the ancient way of growing our own food from seeds.

The three crops of corn, beans and squash are grown together in Mexico to feed large numbers of people. Students learn about how many products and foods in their daily lives are related to corn. In the desert climate of California where the wind blows strong, three corn seeds are planted together so that their roots will interweave, embracing each other and forming a stable base for the magnificent corn which can grow up to 17 feet tall. Each trio of seeds is spaced one large step away from the next trio of seeds. The corn is planted a depth of 3 inches deep, about the length of an adult's finger pressed into the soil, and then gently covered with soil. The corn likes to be watered once a week, with a good soak, and to dry out again before the next watering 8 days later. The youth are encouraged to care for their corn and thanked for their participation in the global effort to save seed and conserve culture.

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