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11th Annual Earth Conference - Story of Seeds: Blueprint for Life

Seeds are the source of all life. Internationally renowned seed activist Vandana Shiva has said, “The seed in its essence is all of the past evolution of the Earth, the evolution of human history, and the potential for future evolutions.”

Although the source of all life, seeds cannot thrive without soil, water, sunlight, and air. As we look at a seed and its interconnectedness, we realize how we too are part of the interdependent web of life relying on nature, diversity, and each other to thrive.

This year’s conference looked at the value and life-giving gift of seeds and motivated us to appreciate and stand in awe of them. We explored dangers seeds encounter and find ways to help preserve their sacredness. We looked at physical seeds as a source of life and also at seeds as a metaphor for life, renewal, and change, inspiring each of us to answer the question: What seeds will I plant and nurture?

Keynote Speaker - Bruno Borsari

The Story of Seed

Seeds allowed our ancestors to settle and develop civilizations.This process was possible through seed selection, conservation and propagation, ultimately shaping our cultures and who we are as humans.

This presentation engaged participants to reflect on the power, issues, and metaphor of seeds and particularly on those seeds most commonly available in our area of Minnesota both in farming and gardening.

Bruno bio: Bruno Borsari is a native Italian and Professor of Biology at Winona State University. He earned his Doctor of Agricultural Science degree from the University of Bologna in Italy and his Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans. He taught and practiced ecological farming, agroforestry and habitat (prairie) restoration in various countries (mainly west and central Africa) for 30 years.
He consulted Italian farmers to transition from conventional agriculture to Integrated Pest Management and assisted them to pursue organic certification for their farms. His research and publications reflect interest in prairie restoration ecology, biology/science education, sustainability, agricultural education reform and local foods. Gardening, raising honeybees, cooking, playing music and singing are his main hobbies.

Panel One - "Challenges to Seeds Today"

In this first panel we learnd how over the centuries seeds have given rise to variations without gene inference. This was contrasted against the modern movement to genetically modify seeds. We looked at how our interfering practices have affected the seeds themselves as well as the soil, food production, and the people eating the food.

Panel Speakers:
Bruno Borsari, Winona State University Biology Professor and Conference Keynote Speaker
James Dontje, Director, Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation and Environmental Studies Program, Gustavus Adolphus College

Panel Two: "Movement Towards Healthy Seed Culture"

We looked at the historical wisdom and seed- saving efforts that are happening now in our communities. We discussed methods of gardening and farming that honor the sacredness of seeds, which in turn help improve soils, and produce healthy food for all citizens of the world.

Panel Speakers:
Dianne Wilson, Co-Director of Dream of Wild Health
Carmen Fernholz, Certified Organic Farmer for more than 40 years


Conference participants each received a print out of a collection of seed-related quotes.

Community Movie Night

GMO OMG director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice? Perhaps the ultimate question, which Seifert tests himself: is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can’t gain back?

These questions and others take Seifert on a journey from his family’s table to Haiti, Paris, Norway, and the lobby of agra-giant Monsanto, from which he is unceremoniously ejected. Along the way we gain insight into a question that is of growing concern to citizens the world over: “What is on your plate?”

Conference Table Decorations