One Seed at a Time
"One Seed At A Time is seeking out and collecting samples
of the heirloom varieties that are currently being raised and banked
by farmers and gardeners in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North
Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Texas, and
Tennessee, and banking these seeds both here in the Southeast and
also at the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. They'll also
be regularly growing out all of the collected varieties at least
every five years to ensure their viability today and for generations
One Seed At A Time will also be combating the patenting of our
heritage seeds by huge corporations. As you read this, the largest
seed companies in the world are busy patenting all of the open-pollinated
varieties of vegetables, flowers, and grains that they can. The
major seed companies of the world have already patented thousands
of open-pollinated varieties. As of now, the only way to keep a
public variety from being patented by the largest seed dealers in
the world is to document it and preserve a sample, as the One Seed
At A Time project will do.
Seed saving organizations and foundations from around the country
have indicated they are interested in supporting this project, but
for it to succeed, we also need support from folks like you.
Heritage Seeds and Rare Breeds
You don't have to be a farmer to have a back-yard garden or become
involved in a community garden where you can grow some wonderful
and bonuntiful heirloom varieties of vegetables or grains. You can
even become a heritage seed-saver! If you are a farmer, you can
raise a breed of rare livestock or poultry. Rare Breeds Canada (Joywind
Farm Rare Breeds Conservancy) has a number of projects in which
you can get involved, including a Heritage Hatchery Network and
a Satellite Breeding Network. If you are an urban dweller you can
adopt-an-animal through the Rare Care Program to help pay for the
upkeep of particularly rare farm animals. To see some rare and heritage
varieties of animals and plants, visit a demonstration farm. There
are a number located across Canada. Contact Heritage Seed Programme,
RR #3, Uxbridge, Ontario L9P 1R3 and/or Rare Breeds Canada.
Biodiversity in Your Back Yard
Let your backyard go wild! If you have a backyard, it's easy to
support biodiversity by supplying the three staples for all life:
water, food, and shelter. Provide a bird bath that will attract
not only birds but pollinating insects and even chipmunks. Or, if
you have the space, create a pond that will atrract an even wilder
variety of species incluing frogs, toads, salemanders, and a host
of birds. Supply wild food by planting perennials such as fruit
and nut trees, nectar producing flowers and berry bushes. The trees
and bushes also provide natural shelter. But remember, insecticides
and herbicides are out! They kill the "good" with the
"bad". The spring 1995 issue of Canadian Nature Federation's
Nature Canada is devoted to Biodiversity in Your Backyard.
Heirlooms, the Garden Treasury
Preserving heirloom seeds gives people a sense of
history and cultural heritage. By growing heirloom plants and saving
the seeds, we can all participate in saving many varieties from
extinction and preserving plants with special genetic traits. In
becoming a seed saver of heirlooms, we can pass on the rich history
with which many plants are endowed. If you can learn the origins
of your seeds, pass this heritage on to your family members and
share these seeds with other growers of heirlooms. In this way it
is possible to save special varieties not commonly grown.
Today, many of us are concerned about the widespread practice of
genetic engineering and the unknown consequences of genetically
modified foods. Taking up heirloom gardening reassures us that we
can enjoy vegetables and fruits that are pure, natural, unchanged,
and in complete harmony with nature.
Heirloom seeds have special features that distinguish them from
* The variety of seed should be able to reproduce itself. For
example, one variety of tomato that has been saved for generation
after generation of plantings will produce that same variety of
* Antique seeds are always self-pollinated or open-pollinated
and will produce plants with the same traits planting after planting,
generation after generation. Hybrid seeds will not be able to reproduce
plants with exactly the same traits.
* The variety of seed must have been introduced at least 50 years
ago, though some heirloom gardeners say they must be at least 100
years old. In recent years, however, varieties with shorter histories
are considered heirloom because of their uniqueness.
* The particular cultivar, or variety, must have a special history.
Perhaps one can trace the plant's origins to a particular region
of the country. Or, perhaps seeds have been saved by farming families
who can recall that their great grandparents brought them from Europe.
Today there is a growing interest in preserving heirloom varieties
of fruits and vegetables along with their histories. Among the groups
that have made special efforts to collect and save heirloom seeds
are the Amish, the Mennonites, and Native Americans. There are seed
companies devoted exclusively to saving and selling heirloom seeds
and plants. Many universities are developing ecology departments
that take a special interest in the preservation of heirloom seeds.
Many of us don't have the time or opportunity to grow our own heirloom
vegetables, but we can make an effort to support those who do. In
recent years, there are many small farmers who grow heirloom tomatoes,
beans, cucumbers, and eggplants and bring them to the shoppers who
frequent farmers' markets.
Great Lakes health danger
Health risks are increasing for the 35 million people living in
the Great Lakes basin as toxic chemicals continue to accumulate,
according to a report from the Conservation Foundation and from
the Institute for Research on Public Policy. The report says that
much of the toxic pollution entering the Lakes comes through the
air. It also identified the runoff of agricultural chemicals as
a particularly serious problem.
All-terrain vehicles kill
All-terrain vehicles, which have long been condemned by environmentalists
for their noisy and profoundly harmful effects on nature, including
the destruction of shorebird habitat and rare vegetation, are also
dangerous to their users. An estimated 1,550 people were killed
in the United States between 1982 and 1989 while riding ATVs, while
over 50,000 a year are injured, according to the U.S. Consumer Product
Native pollution nightmare
Native communities face extremely serious environmental and health
problems caused by pollution, according to Henry Lickers, director
of the environmental division of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
According to Lickers, what is happening in native communities foreshadows
what will happen elsewhere as pollution problems continue. "We
are a bellwether because we live off the land. But the nightmare
we are living today, you will live tomorrow." The island reserve
of Akwesasne is surrounded by heavy industry, including two chemical
plants, a pulp and paper mill, two aluminum smelters, and an autoparts
plant. These industries produce mercury, PCBs, organochlorines and
fluoride that have polluted the land and water, according to Lickers.
He also linked the pollution to other problems in the impoverished
community, saying that "when resources disappear, people become
more desperate. Pollution causes great stress on the community,
and ultimately violence results. Mohawks at Akwesasne depended historically
on farming, fishing, small-game hunting and raising livestock, activities
made impossible in recent years because of heavy pollution.
Excess Packaging Campaign
Environmental Action Ontario has launched an Excess Packaging Campaign
to reduce excess packaging in supermarkets and fast-food outlets.
The campaign seeks to bring environmental groups and concerned individuals
together to tell the large food corporations that we don't want
a throw-away society. They are urging the following changes: 1)
fast-food restaurants provide reusable dishes and cutlery for sit-down
customers, (2) a special tax on disposable take-out containers,
with revenues dedicated to waste reduction efforts, 3) supermarkets
reduce their excess packaging.
Hoping to tap public support for substantial environmental improvements,
participating groups will be approaching unions, church and community
groups and municipal councils in their local areas to endorse the
demands of the campaign.
Report cards are to be issued at the beginning and end of the one-year
campaign which will rank the various fast-food and grocery chains
according to the re-usability of their packaging.
The campaign is looking for groups or individuals to co-ordinate
the campaign in local communities. Local co-ordinators will receive
a campaign kit including background information on the issue and
a manual outlining the tasks involved. Local campaigns will include
three major components: information gathering, publicity, and lobbying.
To participate, for information, or to make a financial contribution,
contact Environmental Action Ontario.
How You Can Help Make A Difference
The same dismal words greet us day after day, in headlines and
on television. Acid rain. Ozone depletion. The Greenhouse Effect.
Environmental degradation. Species extinction. They come together,
like bad news often does.
Belatedly, we've realized that nature is not endlessly self-renewing
and self-cleansing. Environmental problems escalate while we point
We've caused these serious environmental problems. As comfort-loving,
consumer-oriented members of an industrial society, none of us can
deny responsibility for the state of the environment. We have but
to examine the environmental consequences of our daily routine to
realize our individual roles in nature's disarray. By the same token,
however, the saving of the environment rests on our individual daily
actions, consciences and commitment. Your actions can make a difference.
There are a host of things you can do in and around your home to
reduce pressures on the environment.
The average Canadian household produces 20-40 litres of toxic waste
each year. Environmental groups, municipalities and provincial governments
have realized that households make up the largest single class of
hazardous waste generators in Canada.
Hazardous waste is created through the use and disposal of household
hazardous products, which number in the thousands. Household cleaners,
shoe polishes, paints, solvents, batteries, anti-freeze and insecticides
are but a few of the culprits. These end up thrown down the drain,
dumped in landfills or burned in incinerators, and contaminate our
ground and surface waters. This waste stream includes chemicals
that are known to cause cancer.
* Substitute non-hazardous or less hazardous products for the ones
you now use. For example, substitute a mix of vinegar, salt and
water for window cleaner. For other alternatives, write to Pollution
Probe, 12 Madison Ave., Toronto, Ontario, M5R 2S1.
* Don't buy more of a toxic product than you need.
* Use up toxic items; don't throw out partially used containers.
* Encourage the development of proper systems for disposing of household
Recycle Your Garbage
The average Canadian household produces one tonne of garbage a
year. Garbage doesn't disappear, and it's expensive to get rid of
$1.5 billion is spent each year in Canada on garbage disposal.
Landfill sites can contaminate rivers, lakes and groundwater with
toxic chemicals that are leached from the site. Burning garbage
wastes valuable materials, causes air pollution and associated health
hazards. It has been estimated that 50% of our garbage can be recycled;
here's how you can do your share:
* recycle newspapers, magazines, paper, glass, bottles, cans, and
* re-use boxes, paper and plastic bags, as well as containers, glass
jars and cans;
* don't buy disposables - choose refillable bottles;
* look for recycled packaging;
* buy unpackaged or least-packaged items such as bulk foods * 50%
of all garbage in our cities comes from packaging;
* re-use packaging, such as egg cartons, tin foil and plastic bags.
What about the Ozone Layer?
About 90 per cent of the earth's ozone is found naturally in a
layer 15 to 35 kilometers above the earth's surface in the stratosphere.
This ozone layer protects life from the sun's deadly ultraviolet
rays by absorbing the rays which cause skin cancer, cataracts and
damage to the immune system. These rays can do extensive damage
to plant life as well.
Normally, ozone molecules are broken down by the ultraviolet light
they absorb. This light can also break apart oxygen molecules into
highly reactive oxygen atoms. These atoms can then attach themselves
to oxygen molecules to produce ozone. As a result, stratospheric
ozone levels are kept constant.
Ozone can also be destroyed by halogens such as chlorine (which
is found in many chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs) and bromine. A single
chlorine molecule can destroy thousands of ozone molecules.
CFCs can stay in the atmosphere for 75 to 130 years. After 7 to
10 years, these chemicals rise up to the stratosphere, where their
chlorine atoms are liberated by ultraviolet light, leading to ozone
You can be an ozone protector by avoiding ozone-damaging products.
* Avoid foam egg cartons, coffee cups and food packaging.
* Use spring or fibre mattresses, cushions and car seats.
* Avoid CFC-containing aerosol cans.
Conserving energy around your home will save money and the life
of our nonrenewable resources.
* Save water - the average Canadian uses an average of 285 liters
of water per day. Repairing leaking faucets - a dripping tap wastes
30-100 litres a day.
* Turn off lights you don't need. Use low-wattage bulbs when possible.
* Weather-strip around doors and windows.
* Reduce night-time thermostat settings to 17C, and daytime settings
* Make sure your furnace is energy efficient.
For more information and free publications on making your house
energy efficient, call the HEATLINE, a toll-free energy advisory
service at 1-800-267-9563 (995-1810 in Ottawa-Hull).
In the Garden
Over 600 chemicals are applied to Canadian food, forests, homes,
lawns, parks and lakes in a war against unwanted plants and animals.
These chemicals disrupt the ecological chain. In addition, pesticides
have shown up in human tissues, in mother's milk, in fish and in
* Try to avoid using pesticides, or use biological or non-toxic
methods of pest control. For free information on safe ways to control
pests write to: The Environmental Protection Service, Environment
Canada, Twin Atria #2, 2nd Floor, 4999 - 98 Ave., Edmonton, Alberta,
* Save water; reduce lawn watering.
* Make a compost heap rather than adding chemical fertilizers.
* Provide bird feeders for hungry visitors; birds eat many unwanted
There Are Other Ways Too
Finally, you can reduce air pollution and fuel consumption by walking,
bicycling, and using public transit or car pools. Car exhaust accounts
for 30% of air pollution in our cities. If you do use a car, get
it tuned up, it will burn up to 15% less fuel.
Your concern for the environment can be expressed in several ways.
Start changing your lifestyle today - the savings will truly be
Nature art by Elaine Farragher -
Water Contamination - The story of Ontarios
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Reform Group of Ontario history - History of the Medical
Health Care Myths - Medicares opponents have
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relies on myths and misrepresentations.
and Violence - When we throw
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credence to theories that men are inherently violent, we are slandering
men who are not violent and, unthinkingly, we are actually perpetuating
the stereotype that to be a man is to be violent.
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