Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So much wisdom in so little a time frame!

The illegitamacy and moral issues of plant patenting

Recently I was trading some seeds with a friend in Europe who also has an interest in the PVP'ing and Patenting of food crops, traits, and genes. He was interested in the idea that had been thrown around on the Homegrown Goodness forum concerning independent plant breeders and preservationist placing the equivalent of a "creative commons" license on traditional or newly bred varieties that would allow them to remain in the public domain but out of the hands of the Big-Ag.

Herein I reprint his e-mail(s):

1. I might mention that I have for several years edited The Journal of World Intellectual Property and, as a consequence, have some contacts among the world of scholars who address themselves to, among other things, Plant Breeders' Rights, UPOV Protection of Plant Varieties, and Plant Patents. I won't argue about patents with you except to say that, other than the BIG issue of COST, you should perhaps not disregard them for your purposes; they (patents) have been around for more years than the USA and aren't going away. On the other hand, I do think that there are some very practical ways that you and others can perhaps make use of Plant Breeders' Rights to protect what you produce in such a way that it can be used freely but not commercially exploited without your agreement. I'm not sure, but I think so. If you want, I can ask some people or maybe link you up with them. Most of the folks I know are either African or Asian or otherwise sympathetic to "Farmers' Rights" and opposed to patent procedures that "lock in" corporate rights to living organisms, so they would probably know how you can use these laws to advantage.

My reply:
I would be interested in the PVP laws, if only to create a creative commons type license that would keep the variety away from corporations but put no standards or rules on home gardeners and independent and traditional plant breeders. If you can get me some info. on this I would greatly appreciate it my friend!

His Reply:

Secondly, I have done a little dredging through old journals, talking to friends and looking at the Internet and can say a little at this time.
Plant Variety Protection in the US (and in general) requires similar standards as any "patent" : i.e. the variety must be:
- new
- distinct
- uniform; and
- stable
These are the same requirements, by the way, as for a patent.

The distinguishing difference between PVP (which I see on the boards at least one otherwise distinguished commentator calls "Plant Variety Patents") and PP is that "Plant Variety Protection" is available for plants that are, can and will be (may need to be) reproduced by seeds or tubers to retain their uniform and stable distinct characteristics; whereas as Plant Patents are only available for plants that are (and nearly always require to be) asexually (i.e. cloned, divided, "boutured" [sorry, can't think of the English word], etc.] to retain their uniform and stable distinct characteristics.

A PP will cost in excess of US$10-15,000, given gov't fees and legal costs.
A PVP will cost US$5,150, all in gov't fees.

The bottom line, in either case, is that, beyond the rather well-defined limits of either PVP or PP, you simply cannot "protect what you produce in such a way that it can be used freely but not commercially exploited without your agreement", and that I was wrong to suggest that any such option existed.

Consider the "Absinthe" Tomato (assuming it were stable).
- It is not patentable (it is not asexually produced)
- It would, almost certainly be eligible for PVP
- With PVP, you can prevent "X seed company" from selling "Absinthe Tomato" as a
variety if those seeds are derived from yours
- Without "Trademark", in addition to PVP, you could not, however, prevent "X seed company" (by the way, I don't have and never will such a company, this is just an
illustration) from selling "French Absinthe Tomato" based on any other green
tomato seed except yours
- You might possibly (but my legal friends suggest it would be difficult to do so) be
able to prevent Monsanto from introducing whatever the anti-Roundup gene is and
a "Terminator" gene into germplasm from your Absinthe Tomato, and then patenting
this asexually produced seed as "Killer Absinthe Tomato". (Even if you owned a 'trademark'
on "Absinthe Tomato", they suggest that a fight against a corporation such as this would
maybe award you your legal costs and compensation for your time at professional rates.)
- There is not likely to be much difference, I am told, if you hold a patent

Another thought I have (and that has been reinforced by talking to my African and 1 Indian friend) is that what you and most of the folks at "Homegrown Goodness" are looking for and what the corporations are looking for are, like, RADICALLY different. Some of your interests may cross over into the interests of 3rd World Farmers, but even there, the overlap is really small.
- Big agro corps (even the small ones I love, like TerraNova) want PRODUCTS
They want them to supply either:
- customers who want something nifty in their garden that cannot be easily produced; or
- customers who want reliable, MARKETABLE products (note the repetition) for onward sale
- governments or IOs or NGOs who are trying to feed populations in desperation

- 3rd World farmers are looking for seed that will allow them to :
- provide a product to a commercial market
- provide a product to a local market
- feed their families

- "Homegrown Goodness" folks want :
- good nutrition
- good flavour
- freedom from GMOs
- seed-saving capability
- longer-season production
- probably a lot more, because it is more personal

What is interesting here is that the interests of the Agro-complexes and of Juan or N'gebe in southern Colombia or East Nigeria are much more in consonant than are those of the Agro-complexes and the "Homegrown Goodness" folks.
And to refer back to the discussion above, I think that we may "Protest too much".
Most of what the "HG" community wants to develop is of no or limited interest to the ACs and, I am sorry to say, of about the same interest to the 3rd World.
Should any one of us make a breakthrough that would benefit the world, wouldn't we all know it?
And wouldn't we all help pay the fees to guarantee that it was free to all?
Of course, we'd have to accept that 'free for all' would mean that every seed company in the world could print up packages and sell :
"Alan Bishop's Absinthe Tomato".
And that would mean, well, what? Would it really mean what we would want it to mean?

I have MANY more thoughts on this subject, but it would make a LONG letter.
I have to stress that I have NO political/ideological/moral/ethical position whatsoever on the issue. In fact, after several years of working with people on both/all "sides" and a lifelong heritage as a gardener and seed & plant trader, I actually rather think that it is a non-issue in anything but a political/ideological sense; that it really has no practical impact on gardeners or farmers or on non-gardening/farming families that use their good sense and free will; and, therefore, has only minimal moral/ethical content.

Well, since i obviously cannot share your worldview, I hope I can still get seeds!

Anyhow, I thought this was an interesting exchange. Mostly in the way that my friend views such issues as "non-issues", which by all means is his right and I respect that. However, I myself have no interest at all in PVP'ing a variety for profit, only to protect it for other traditional farmers and plant breeders as I can make plenty of money to cover my work from simply growing and selling the produce or starting a traditional seed company and selling the seeds. I do think that the PVP'ing of varieties and traits that are present in traditional crops and varieties and the ongoing PVP'ing of known traditional OP lines is a very big issue for traditional farmers and independent plant breeders and that the battle is very worth fighting, our agricultural heritage is being stolen right out from underneath of us and sold back to us minus our traditional rights to the use of this material and the saving of the seeds.

Today I was browsing another forum on the net and came across this exchange from another user:

It can take 6-8 years from the initial cross to introduction into commercial trials,full adoption into the commercial market can take more than a decade. It also takes a core team comprised of scientists, plant pathologists, entomologists, molecular biologists, food scientists breeding technicians and growers. [Angela Smith-Vegetable growers News-Mar.'09] Every one gets a pretty good salary. There are many other expenses involved also. Still wonder why some want to patent thei discovery and recover expenses, even profit from it all.
Private companies bear these expenses, they should reap the benefits of their work. public monies are drying up due to several causes, one of which is the demand to spend less tax dollars at the colleges whu do these trials. pretty hard to bad mouth private enterprise at the same time we demand less govt. monies be spent on crop research.

Wrong on all accounts! While companies do sink large amounts of money into agricultural varieties there has been more than ample evidence that many new "novel" varieties are nothing more than re-introductions of old and traditional agricultural crops, crops who's traits were raleighed together by traditional farmers and molded into useful agrarian material for generations, sometimes thousands of years, before some jackass in a lab suit decided that it was "novel" and that he could turn a buck from it at the expense of traditional and independent farmers and indigenous people the world over. Even when there is some amount of novel breeding program (in the context of traditional breeding, not GMO "breeding"), most of the time when a patent or PVP is placed on that trait it is a trait that is already common to that particular crop species and effectively attempts to "lock up" that trait from the general gardening public and their ability to save seed from this crop or use it for independent breeding.

Plant breeding has been an ongoing public domain endeavour for at least the last 10,000 years, mostly on a shoestring budget, and didn't become an act of major economic importance in the seed trade until just a couple hundred years ago. The early American seed companies fared well because they existed during a time where they focused on the regions that they served and selected for the traits needed for successful growing in that region, at the same time they were developing new varieties as much for the success of the whole of the region as they were for the monetary compensation from such development, such sentiment remained until the implementation of the sale of unstable F1 varieties (which made purchasing seeds annually much more common) and the expansion into country wide hubs of seed that "do O.K. anywhere as opposed to doing great in a particular "somewhere" ". At some point in time lobbyist learned to manipulate the system to allow the patenting of life, an atrocity in itself, no one owns life or genes, ever, and I dare you to tell me otherwise. Plants and animals are only the beginning, that was testing the water, now human genes are becoming subject to patents, for anyone to think of this as a "non-issue" really gets under my skin.

This is our world. Every living thing on this planet has it's place and it is not yours for the taking and pillage, particularly in regards to sovereign human rights and what I am now calling "the right to free and open traditional agrarian society" or variously "my right to tell the manipulators of the human race to go fuck themselves" (this includes you Monsanto).

Of course once you patent a trait in an open pollinated crop, it's only a matter of time before that trait ends up in your crops, even traits you don't want like genetically modified traits, at which point you no longer own your crop, the owner of the patent then owns you crop, it's called bio-piracy, but unlike their allegations, it is bio-piracy on their behalf, a cheap and easy way to amass money and materials is by the systemic rape and pillage of traditional farmers that get in the way. These people have no morals.

Of course the next step up is GMO, but I think I have ranted enough about the dangers of this particular manipulation. Though I do think and encourage Americans to take up the practice and example of the French and their destruction of GMO crops.

Then came a very interesting Rambling Posting about some Sweet Fingerling Peppers and their concerting origins via the Long Island Seed Project. All in all a good day to think about how screwed up it is to think you "own" life, or genes, or agricultural history.

BTW, anybody else with a blog notice the Lockheed Martin Corporation trolling their blog on a daily basis for time periods only long enough to allow a browser to troll and record data?

Their motto after all is: "We never forget who we are working for"

I'm sure you don't ass kissers!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting caught up slowly! Update on ordering seeds.

Just taking a few minuites to update the blog. I'm slowly starting to catch up I believe. I've been mixing soil, harvesting castings, and making soil blocks all day, tonight I will pack the remainder of the seed orders for the year and then bottle some of my mead! Still have to find the time soon to get out and cut some fire wood and there are a ton of seeds that need to be started.

Update on ordering seed:

Unfortunately we are almost out of stock of everything in our public access seed collection so for the time being we will not be taking any future orders for seed in 2009.

This fall expect a much larger seed list and the ability to request a physical copy as well as access a PDF file containing our seed list. We are moving Hip-Gnosis Seed Development into the realm of an actual seed company in the coming months. Expect lot's of unique and rare varieties and lots of newly bred Open Pollinated lines for 2010. Thanks to everyone has ordered. If you have an order with me right now, don't worry, it will still be going out my friends!

Thanks again guys! Unless something uber exciting happens I will speak to you all next Monday! Have a good one. BTW, Happy Birthday to me! (Feb. 22)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

May be away for a few days.

I may be away from the net and subsequently my blog and message board for a few days trying to get caught up on farm work before springs arrival. Lot's to do. A few thousand brassicas and peppers to get started, nearly one ton of compost to sift, and a ton of starting mix to get made. I also need to take a bit to center myself and get some physical/spiritual health issues under control, mostly related to a poor diet and my continued smoking habbit and lack of consistent sleep schedule. I won't be gone long though, too much to post about my friends!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cleaning out the chicken coop!

On Valentines day Kim and I spent some quality time cleaning out the chicken coop and composting the resulting litter. Kim snapped a few pics of me and the chickens and new proverbial "huge pile of shit" (yeah, I know, It's getting old now!)

Obama still fighting to conceal his birth records.

And this says it all. His actions alone should raise red flags everywhere to everyone. Not to mention Rahm Emanuel and his dual Israeli/U.S. Citizenship and terrorist ties! Conflict of interest much? You wanted change? Well you got it. Take a moment, open your eyes and look at the amount of corruption surrounding the Obama administration in just it's first month in office! This guy is no better than George Bush! They are essentially one in the same! I won't even get into the "stimulus" package and it's fallacies! All I can say is here is your new messiah. The alchemical king!

edit: to some this may have sounded harsh. If so I am sorry, but I can only call things as I see them. I have it in me to always question authority and I will continue to do so. I should have clarified that by "messiah" I was refering to the almost religious "ferver" that tends to surround him at all times, something that I find absolutely disgusting in any authoritarian figure, as should all if they wish to see things as they truly are.

New MISSISSIPPI gun law protects gun owners from Martial Law!

The next state to show it's defiance in the face of overstretched federal law is Mississippi, who just passed Senate Bill 2036. A bill which has the express purpose of:


Soon the overreaching and illegitimate federal government of the United States will begin to realize that States value their independent rights and will fight for their ability to govern under their sovereign and constitutional rights. Between the Indiana honest money act and this new Mississippi gun law, I have great faith that some states will stand up and fight for the freedom and protection of their people once the "end game" has begun.

The logical earth: An argument for a return to bio-regional living and economy, and traditional farming with a new“edge” in innovation!

The logical earth: An argument for a return to bio-regional living and economy, and traditional farming with a new“edge” in innovation!

Written By: Alan Reed Bishop/Bishop’s Homegrown/Hip-Gnosis Seed Development/Homegrown Goodness.
February 2009

Unless my own senses and reasoning run against the tide of what is really happening behind the closed doors of world government, I feel that it is obvious that our economic and emotional heartstrings are being manipulated by puppeteers on the world stage, I see no way in which any rational and well informed human thinker can deny such a premise in the “information age” provided to us via the internet.

This is to say that behind the scenes operates a corrupt cabal of “higher powers” that have for several decades and probably centuries and maybe millennia pushed the proverbial button labeled “more for me” and fully realized the context of the effect on the equal but opposite end of humanity, the proverbial “less for them“, would be the norm, they have continued to erode our “birth rights” as denizens of the larger earth.

Herein I will mostly focus on the United States and Canada where self sufficiency and liberty as well as community has been highly eroded and harmed by so called “modernization” or the phrase of the day “advanced economics”, however this article will detail the processes by which agrarian culture can flourish around the world as well, but also in particular in the developed countries encompassing Europe, The Medeterranian, and the far East.

Suffice it to say, now is the time to prepare for the oncoming calamity set in motion by big business and big government, make no mistake about it, in their eyes you no longer “own” anything and “rights” are only truly seen as “temporary privileges”. It may seem as though I am jumping the gun a bit or that I am committing a heresy by speaking of “politics and conspiracies” in a gardening article, however I presume that as you read this you share the same interests and basic ideas about “reality” and “history” as well as it’s propensity to repeat itself as do I. As such I welcome you to the realm of “awareness”.

Moving on now, I will not delve into the “who, what, when, where, and how” of why our nations are being torn apart or why our current system of civilization does not and will not work, instead I will focus on what can be done to build local agrarian communities using old technology, new innovations, and fostering love and diversity in your regional/local community while creating a viable new economy, this of course all based on the small farmer providing foodstuffs, many others are working on the other means and methods of society and will in time make their work known.

One must first and foremost take a look at the pressing issues of the moment, those being economics and human health and well being. Suffice it to say that the “American Dream” has long been corrupted by beaurocrats, lobbyists, and governmental investors, forcing food options that are not desirable on to the public mass with little to no regulation on corporate farms, high food safety failure rates, and tighter sanctions on the small farmer. In America we were long ago robed of local food options in our common grocers by the way of large industrialized agriculture, GMO’s and “bottom line” business plans.

The shipping in of food crosses country from farms that are atrocious to the eyes and thoughts of foodies and organic enthusiasts all over is of prime importance in the downturn of local economies. At one point in time there were market farms and truck farms all over the U.S. growing and selling diverse crops to the local populations and stimulating the local economies while providing healthy food, well-being, and safety to the local community at large and using the abundant local resources and people, and all the while preserving genetic diversity and small community sentiment. Unfortunately during the green revolution farmers were given the incentive to “Get Big or Get Out”. The equivalent of “Quantity over Quality” thinking. Local amendments, seeds, and knowledge were traded off in mass, regardless of tradition, for fossil fuel fertilizers (A surplus of the excess of the large Military-Industrial complex and their promotion and production weapons material derived from fossil fuels and the post WW2 that such surpluses “needed to find a new use”) poisonous and cancer causing fungicides and insecticides, and promises of “increased yields” as well as corporate monetary gain without so much of a thought or care given to the small farmer and American communities.

The saving of garden and farm seeds as well as the backyard plant breeding, propagation, and distribution of local farm adapted and landrace varieties once accounted greatly for the success of local farmers and gardeners as well as contributed to the well being and self sufficiency of family farms and their ability to trade and barter for what they didn’t have but needed! These traditions were passed down generation to generation spanning nearly all cultures and all bio-regions of the earth.

There are relics of these time honored traditions in isolated pockets all around the North American content, in particular in the Appalachian Mountain region and scattered about the Native Amer-Indian tribes, in the arid south west as well as in Mexico where traditional living is still practiced due to the outside exploitation of natural resources by the industrialization of America, leaving the locals to their own devices for survival.

More recently these traditions are making a comeback in mass due to the work of diligent seed savers and traders, preservationists, survivalists and backyard plant breeders who are helping to spread the word via the electronic age and the internet due to the ever escalating issues of food safety and economic collapse. One, with a bit of investigative skill can hunt down such groups and find a myriad of information that was forgotten in the intermittent baby boom and generation X period of time, when industrialization and the rapid rise of American Corporations and their “products of ease“ became widely available and wiped out much of the local trade and put many mom and pop stores out of business while ushering in an age of T.V. (commercial advertisements for the same pocket and culture raping corporations), Fossil Fuel Consumption, Complacency and Laziness. One such source of modern and traditional self sustainable and organic culture information is the Homegrown Goodness Message Board at which functions as a library, virtual community, and trading hub to those with similar interests.

We are now facing even greater dangers than ever before with the rise of the “gene revolution” and genetically modified organisms as well as the patenting and bio-piracy of not only genes but entire geno-types of plant and animal derived foods. One must now take a look at their options if they hope to help revive the true American/Agrarian dream. Contrary to some beliefs a landholding does not have to be large to provide one and his community with self sustainable food. Many options are viable and one should never discount the validity of community gardens, the liberation of empty commercial property and landscapes within cities or the propensity for bio-diverse gardens in vertical settings (after all, the hanging garden is one of mankind’s most lauded and legendary accomplishments).

It could be argued that we have led ourselves into the complacency of the takeover and hijacking of our communities, states and countries via our on complacency and acceptance that the “government knows best”. It could be argued that our food safety has been compromised by our legacy of ever expanding waste lines and cheap and unhealthy food provided to us by the same companies that have promoted and profited from world wars.

It could be argued that when our “fiat” money system collapses that we will have no one to blame for the oncoming decline and death of our local communities other than ourselves due to our inability and unwillingness to try to effect true and radical change within our own thinking and act patterns.

It is time to learn to save seeds, adapt varieties to our current locales, share seeds with friends family and neighbors, Create truly nutritious and organic soil amendments using compost derived from abundant local resources including plants and animals, and to once again learn to function as a community and civilization utilizing the lessons learned from 10,000 years of collective history including the open market and barter systems.

Civilization is not a “given”. A community and civilization can only exist and profit from such an existent so long as it is mutually beneficial to the entirety of the civilization and all of its classes. We are quickly approaching a point in the road where many are waking up and realizing that the current system no longer “works” for a majority of our population. We now understand that relying on the safety and healthfulness of our food via big-ag and the importation from other states and bio-regions is no longer safe or economical and in time will no longer be feasible via or economy as well as the poisoning of these food supplies along with the changing weather. We must learn to use the food crops that we have developed in our own bio region to grow abundant sources of plant and animal derived proteins and amino acids sustainable.

Most solutions to these problems are in the realm of “instinctual knowledge” which is to say that after 10,000 years of culturally motivated evolution we “know” how to do a vast majority of tasks that are of great benefit to our local community. If we are to survive and evolve as a group of communities we must first foster and liberate our agricultural heritage from the hands of the trans-national corporations, the governments, and throws of tyrants that we have let for so long control our own agrarian destiny, the citizen farmer and the arising community that comes from those efforts that Thomas Jefferson so believed in is still a valid idea and one which is worth perusing, particularly if in the coming months and years we don’t want to watch as our entire infrastructure crumbles and our communities break into “survival of the fittest” chaos as is often seen in the fall of civilization. What we need is a True Green Revolution which encompasses our very own revolution against the forces which have brought us to this point in time. Such revolutions can only be organized, otherwise Anarchy becomes the rule of the day and while Anarchy can succeed in some form, it is only when a group of people share similar morals and values and benefits that such a form of social exchange can exist with any semblance of safety or love.

In order to foster such communities and togetherness we must focus on the following issues

-Organically managed soil and fertility using local resources to create reliable and time honored farming techniques. Cold Composting, Bokashi, Vermiculture, and Thermophilic composting are all viable options. Using weeds, residue from food plants, animal manures, and even human manures to accomplish such feats is of paramount importance

-Organically grown and selected locally adapted seed and plant varieties which have been passed down generation to generation and farmer to farmer in your bio-region.

-Breeding new traditionally enhanced cultivars using the work of Public Domain plant breeders such as Alan Kapuler, Ken Ettlinger, Tom Wagner, and Tim Peters as inspiration and starting points. Their work is in the public domain and freely accessible via the internet.

-Identifying novel genetic combinations that are GMO (genetically modified organism) free from commercial seed sources. Particularly Hybrid (F1) genetics of plants which can then be segregated into open pollinated derivatives that are self sustainable. These genetics as well as other genetic recombination’s as a result of hand pollinated and home grown F1 populations and their progeny as well as “mass cross” and culturally mixed genetics will fill in the gaps where there are no locally adapted landraces are cultivars in the local and regional seed holdings of your area

-The identification of underdeveloped and self sustainable food crops that are native to or otherwise adapted to your locale. In other words identifying the foods of the Native Americans of your locale and working to further ferret out the useful traits of these crops and domesticate them over a period of time for the purpose of cultivation.

-The identification and development of systems of natural medicine via medicinal wild herbs and cultivated and well document varieties as well as their various uses and preparations.

-The organic management of farm animals and beneficial insects for protein and other uses. Including chickens, goats, cows, bees, worms and more. One would be regress not to look for significant adaptation in heritage breeds for their local regions. Learning to grow food stock for such animals is of paramount importance to this endeavor as well. Composting the manures should be of high importance as well. Waste nothing.

-Learn the lifecycles of plants and their propagation as well as the lifecycle and organic control of pests and diseases and the use of beneficial insects and sound eco-logical protection of those plants without the use of inorganic compounds.

-Learn to hone the skill and management of wild game and hunting as well as the myriad of uses of the material harvested from these abundant sources of protein and material. Leather making, the making of shelter, clothing and farming implements.

-Learn to work the soil using the most basic of tools.

-Learn to use the 10,000 years of cultural and agrarian knowledge to produce as much of what you need from what you have while adapting the new knowledge of micro-biology and soil sciences and organic cultivation to these traditional practices.

Of course many of the above bulletins are in the realm of advanced agronomics. However, since it is the advanced farmers and gardeners who will push the issue amongst the general public it is you who I reach out to help spread the word about rebuilding America in the image of its fore Fathers (both Canadian and U.S.). You must learn to function as not only a trading post and barter market for your seeds and dissemination point for your products but also become a valuable library of information in the setting up of systems of self sustainability for the rest of your community. You will become the lynchpins of your community’s success by sharing your valuable accumulated knowledge with you neighbors. Once a successful system of interlocking farms, gardens, and information is set up the rest of the community will follow in lockstep with other useful and valuable pieces of a vibrant community including art, music, crafts, and more. Of course one would be wise to learn as many of these trades and become as much of a renascence (Wo)Man as one can as it only benefits by way of example the entire community. Wherever there is food and shelter and abundance there will follow love, community, the arts, celebrations, spirituality, and vibrancy, a sense of pride, truth, and protection from the outside uncertainty of an anarchic and unsure world. All of these things are the glue of a useful and functioning society that is held aloft by a group of people with similar beneficial intentions and belief in what they are doing, and all done beyond the realm of overreaching government beaurocracy and without the supposed “help” that is society is supposedly “dependent” on from the big box stores, big ag, big pharmacy and so on. It is easy for a farmer to fall to the rules and regulations of a government that is overstepping the boundaries set by it by its people, it is much harder to disrupt and take down entire villages and communities of people sharing a common goal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Composting, Starting Seeds, and Preparing for spring!

I know that I haven't been on much in the past couple of days, but the temperatures here have been outstanding! In the 60's! I can't be attached to the computer when the sun is shining in such a beautiful way! Too much to enjoy outside! We have been composting on a huge scale over the past couple of days, 600 loaves of bred, probably close to a hundred lbs of coffee grounds, lots of cow manure and some other materials! Sifting through worm compost as well as thermophilic compost and making soil blocks while cleaning up and sanatizing the greenhouses has taken up much of my time! Pictures to come soon and many more updates my friends!

Happy birthday Darwin!

A few days early, but a happy Bi-Centinial birthday to Charles Darwin (and coincidentally Abraham Lincoln, although his bi-centinial has past, both were born on Feb. 12). Thanks for expanding the scope and scale of human understanding of natural history and evolution! Weather you believe in evolution or not, it cannot be denied that Charles Darwin changed the history of the world and opened the minds of millions of intrepid genetic explorers!

Natural selection, the survival of the fittest, does not necessarily include progressive development… if there were no advantage, these forms would be left, by natural selection, unimproved or but little improved, and might remain for indefinite ages in their present lowly condition.

~ Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

Association Kokopeli!

Dominique for Association Kokopeli was kind enough to honor us and some of our friends from Hip-Gnosis Seed Development and The Homegrown Goodness Messageboard in the annually published Seeds Of Kokopeli! Our own Michael Lachume (CanadaMike) wrote the article. Tom Wagner, Alan Kapuler, Mike, and Frank Van Keirsblick (orflo) as well as myself are all honored in the new book! We would love to thank Kokopeli, and particularly Dominique and Michael!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

USDA wants the right to do nothing about unaproved GMO's in food supply

Thanks once again to Agrarian Grrls Journal I have something else to rant about in the form of This Article which claims that the USDA wants the legal right to do nothing about unapproved Genetically Modified contamination in the food supply.

Fair enough, the USDA doesn't want to do it's job and wants to once again bow down to the feet of the GMO monster, fine, then I and many other traditional and organic farmers want permission to destroy by any means necessary any GMO crop that violates the sanctity and genetic structure of our traditional crops by means of the stealing of traditional genes via PVP and or the transgenic contamination of our crops via free floating genetically modified pollen. In case your wondering what that means, we want permission to destroy these GMO crops the moment they touch soil anywhere in the vicinity of our farms and crops and we want the ability to sue the manufacturer of said GMO varieties and the USDA when they end up in our food supply endangering the health of our family, friends, and earth.

That should be "SUBSTANTIALLY EQUIVALENT" to what the USDA wants. IF you don't like it, too bad.

No Fear, No Regret, No remorse, Freedom from tyrants! Don't tread on me!

A patent on genotypic traits, a step beyond the normal PVP process and a Bio-Piracy grab!

Another damn agricultural rant from Alan Reed Bishop/Hip-Gnosis Seed Development/Homegrown Goodness/Bishop's Homegrown

Thanks to Agrarian Grrl's Journal, I've got a few new things to write about. I'd like to first thank Agrarian Grrl for all the hard work that she does on her wonderful blog!

Anyhow, according to this Link at Siegers seed company in Holland, Michigan have applied for a patent on "warty" pumpkins. ETC released this press piece on the situation which was sent with photographic proof of the prior existence of "warty" pumpkins to the USPTO:

Message to USPTO: Squash the Patent on Bumpy Pumpkins; there's plenty of prior (w)art

On December 4, 2008, while most folks in the United States were eating the last slices of pumpkin pie left over from Thanksgiving dinner, the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) published patent application US20080301830A1 on a Warted pumpkin, “invented” by the Director of Sales & Marketing at Siegers Seed Company in Holland, Michigan, USA. The patent application claims a “warted pumpkin...wherein the outer shell includes at least one wart associated with the outer shell of the body.”

“The claims made by these Michigan 'wart hogs' are outrageous,” says Pat Mooney of ETC Group. “Characteristics vary more for pumpkins than for just about any other plant on earth. Some pumpkins have smooth surfaces; some are barely bumpy and some are way warty. No doubt that's been the case since North American indigenous peoples domesticated them thousands of years ago. Evidence of warty pumpkins goes as far back as the sixteenth century and runs straight through to the twenty-first.”

The patent application includes 25 broad claims covering a range of pumpkins with bumpy surfaces (i.e., 5% to 50% of surface is “warted”), a range of wart sizes relative to the pumpkin's surface and a range of wart colors. The application also claims a range of pumpkin patches (i.e., 25% to 75% of patch contains warty pumpkins). It also claims specific varieties – the application states that the “invention” may “comprise a Cucurbita pepo and/or maxima,” encompassing fruit called gourds and squashes, as well as pumpkins – and it claims plant, seed and tissue of warty pumpkins.

The patent application, if granted, would impose a monopoly position in the U.S. over all Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima exhibiting a warty surface. “It's déjà vu – like the 'Enola' bean patent all over again,” says ETC's Silvia Ribeiro, referring to the U.S. patent 5,894,079 granted in 1999, which claimed a bean variety of Mexican origin, including its characteristic yellow color. The patent owner, Larry Proctor of Colorado, USA, charged that Mexican farmers were infringing his patent by selling yellow beans in the USA and shipments were stopped at the border. Proctor also sued seed companies and farmers selling or growing the Mexican yellow bean in the USA. Soon after the USPTO granted the patent, ETC Group denounced it as “Mexican bean biopiracy.” The Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), with support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, filed an official challenge in late 2000. The USPTO reexamined the patent and rejected all of its claims back in 2005. But the patent owner appealed the ruling and the patent is still under dispute.[1] “So for almost a decade now – that's half of a patent's lifespan – farmers and seed companies have lost lucrative markets because of a monopoly that everyone – except the patent holder – agrees is technically invalid and morally unjust,” says Ribeiro. “If the USPTO accepts this warty pumpkin patent, it will be another wart on its already blemished record permitting the monopolization of indigenous knowledge.”

An important difference between the 'Enola' bean case and the current case of the warty pumpkin is that the USPTO has not yet granted the patent, though it may decide the application's fate as early as February 4, which is 60 days after its publication. ETC Group and others, including growers and sellers of warted pumpkins in the U.S., have sent the USPTO documentation of the existence of warted pumpkins dating well before – in some cases centuries before – Siegers Seed Company's “invention” timeline, which begins in 2002. (See PDF at for illustrations.) There's such a plethora of “prior art” that even the patent-happy USPTO shouldn't be able to overlook it. ETC Group also raised its concerns about the pending patent with The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) based in Tainan, Taiwan. AVRDC holds accessions of Cucurbita pepo and maxima in its gene bank – some from the U.S. – and a U.S. patent could have implications for the Center's Cucurbit plant breeding and germplasm exchange. “We know from the 'Enola' bean patent debacle that even an obviously bad patent can still live a long and destructive life,” says Kathy Jo Wetter from ETC Group's U.S. office. “The USPTO should reject all 25 claims of the patent application on warted pumpkins.”

[1] See ETC Group, “Hollow Victory: Enola Bean Patent Smashed At Last (Maybe),” 29 April 2008, available on the Internet:

For more information, contact:

Pat Mooney - ETC Group (Ottawa, Canada)
Phone: +1 613 2412267 Cell: +1 613 240 0045

Silvia Ribeiro – ETC Group (Mexico City)
Phone: 011 52 5555 6326 64

Kathy Jo Wetter - ETC Group (Durham, NC, USA)
Phone: +1 919 688 7302

Anyhow, as anyone worth their weight in agricultural experience knows, Siegers, Regardless of their claims, did not invent this novel and attractive trait and in fact do not deserve a patent on this trait, their variety or any other living organism. First and foremost the claims are broad enough to include pretty much any species of the Cucurbrita family which show some amount of the bumpy trait, any intrepid breeder or preservationist would surely realize the immense scope of such a statement and the amount of varieties that it would cover and in term give "ownership", legal rights, and the ability to sue traditional farmers, plant breeders, and individual gardeners to Siegers, you see this "Warty" trait just happens to show up in hundreds of traditionally bred hybrid cultivars in the public domain as well as hundreds of Open Pollinated cultivars in the public domain, this includes summer squash such as the C. Pepo yellow crookneck that shows this warty characteristic in a repressed state a maturity, tons of gourds, and obviously in C. Moschata, C. Pepo, and C. Mixta winter squash varieties (for those unfamiliar with the abundance of the "Warty" characteristic go take a look at the pictures on or of squash for the scope we are speaking of). In other words this sets up almost all Open Pollinated seed traders, savers, and plant breeders to face legal action via Siegers due to their supposed "invention" being apparent in home garden crops. Bio-Piracy in the truest sense of the word, or as I am wont to call it "Bio-Terrorism".

You see, Siegers didn't "create" this trait, they didn't even "find" it, they only took a common trait to the Cucurbrita family and tried to patent it with a wide definition of what they "own" in a power grab. The "warty" trait has been documented as far back as the mid 1700's in the cucurbrita species and it is nearly a certainty that Native Americans ferreted out this gene and worked with it for several thousand years before that time, and yet they had the respect for humankind and nature to know that they did not own it, fast forward to the 21'st century and some corporate shill, piece of trash in a suit setting in an over sized office at Siegers believes he can "own" that trait, I don't think so my friend. Trust me, when I read this on Aggrarian Grrls site this morning, I was livid. So much so that I call Siegers, and guess what, I managed to get the e-mail and phone number of the fellow in charge of this clusterfuck and I've got some questions to ask him. Granted, I don't know if the patent has been accepted or not at this point in time, but at some point someone has got to hold the fire to the feet of these "bio-pirates" and while I know that my phone call is but a tiny contribution, it still makes them aware that we will not have our rights as an agrarian culture taken from us.

It's as simple as this, even if the patent is granted we will not stop growing varieties showing these special traits, neither will we stop using them for breeding material, and neither shall we stop trading these varieties amongst the fellow citizen-farmers of our beautiful planet. These genes belong to everyone and can not be privatized by any person or corporation, at current there are a number of intrepid independent plant breeders working on a limited creative commons license which will leave seed in the public domain but out of the hands of corporations, meaning that we will be able to keep the novel traits bred into plants by our ancestors and folks at places like Monsanto and Syngenta and Siegers will never be allowed to place their filthy hands on traditional varieties or traits..

Just for clarification, to my knowledge Siegers is an independently owned seed company, however they recieve many of their selections of seed available from their cataloug from a Monsanto subsidiary, more importantly, even if they didn't associate with Monsanto the patenting of such "life" should be considered unacceptable to any traditional farmer and as such Siegers should be boycotted. Perhaps Siegers would feel differently about their claim of "ownership" if they had to pay reparations to the Native Americans, Independent Plant Breeders, and Preservationist who kept this novel trait around, bulk payments to the descendants of these groups would be acceptable as well.

More Conspiracy and Political News

Well, we are a couple of weeks into the Obama administration now and nothing has changed, if anything what was once open and common knowledge is now being even more well concealed from the American public, for example, Gitmo will be closed, unfortunately new prisons will be opened on the U.S. mainland and around the world and the Gitmo prisoners will find their new "homes" here. Then you have Obama's lovely new financial plan, because one banker bailout just wasn't enough! A few other things you might be aware of though:

Obama continues CIA's Rendition Program

The New Administration and Great Brittain find themselves at odds over torture evidence

HR 645 is introduced to set up FEMA camps in case of "disaster", in other words "internment" camps

Oh and in an update to our blog covering the story of The London Times absolutely disgusting "BlackJack" series, there is a brand spanking new Part 3 Covering the North American Union, FEMA camps, martial law and more propaganda!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Adventures of Citizen X

I recently came across this blog on the net and realized that I shared quite a bit in common with the blogger political views, little did I realize until yesterday just who the blogger was. In another one of those weird interests crossing over coincidences it turns out that the blogger is none other than Glenn Jacobs, better known to wrestling fans as WWE's Kane. Yeah, that's right, I'm a wrestling dork, it's the best of both worlds, athleticism and drama and believe it or not it takes a lot of talent to make those story lines convincing.

Seriously though, regardless of weather you are a wrestling fan or not check out The Adventures of Citizen X.

"The Wyrm": Modifications and aggressively harvesting worm castings

I've had to go back to the drawing board on "the wyrm" project due to some circumstances. In particular with regards to catching the water using plastic lined bins with wells. The issue didn't decide to make itself apparent while I was running the wood stove, presumably because the water was evaporating quickly due to the heat and I was watering on a relatively common basis. If your wondering what the issue that I am having is, it was a massive die off of worms. There are many reasons for this die off including an accumulation of stagnant water in the bottom of the bins coupled with a low oxygen environment, an acid build up due to using some composted chicken manure in an experiment and just overall a build up of issue upon issue of mistakes, including having to cut the power to the greenhouse and subsequently the heat during the coldest part of the year and only a day after watering, due to an outrageously high electric bill that we still haven't figured out (it was shocking to see the number on the bill to say the least and the electric company won't admit it was a mistake even though they admited there was a problem with the meter that they replaced, in other words the worms got cold and migrated deeper into the bin where the stagnant, anearobic, and acidic environment of the lower bin quickly overwhelmed the population.

Don't get me wrong, my friend Paul (my co-conspirator) has a great idea when it comes to reusing the water from the worm bins and it would have worked well for myself too if I weren't already in the habbit of watering my worm bins as though they had drainage and in a routine from my four previous years of vermicomposting here on the farm, when I find a system that works and works well I just have to learn to stick to it. The good news is that Paul now has access to the last four wooden bins needed to complete the infrastructure of "the wyrm" project. His help and friendship has been greatly appreciated!

Needless to say the last couple of days have been busy, I am slowly getting the first six bins emptied back out, harvesting the available worm castings, dumping the rest of the compost into a new pile to dry out and be used for field ready compost, and cursing.....a lot.

When I make a mistake I do a terrific job. Fortunately the remedy is pretty straightforward. Once the bins are emptied out I'll drill some drainage holes in the bin and fill the bins 1/4 full of new cow manure, something I should have done in the first place but didn't since I already had a population of worms living in an old pile of compost and used it to fill the worm bins near the top and topped the bins off with manure.....or as I call it now, mistake number 1.

I will then be placing an order with Tripple G Worm Ranch (a great couple and good friends) for an additional 10 lbs of worms. I will divide the 10 lbs between the first six new bins and re-establish a worm population relatively quickly (I hope) The worms will only be fed what they can consume in a two week period and over the next 365 days I will slowly build each bin and population and start opening up new bins, this time next year with any luck we will have an enormous population of worms and a large harvest of castings. From now until then we should recieve another three loads of cow manure from the neighboring farm. Though this did put an additional dent in the soil fertility plan for this season it can be made up for by using the abundant source of thermophillic compost that we have on the farm at the moment.

Which brings me to the next part of the two most stressful days of winter so far.....harvesting what was in the bins and sifting compost.

Since the worm population in the bins was dismal and some of the bins were made up of old compost anyhow and I have to empty the bins of their compost to make the necessary adjustments to my set up I decided to harvest off what I could for for sifted castings for use in seed starting soil blocks this season, a job made all the more difficult due to the weight of the wet material and it's physical properties when run through the Homegrown Worm Harvester. I run each wheelbarrow of material through the harvester twice and the leftover material that has been digested then gets limed and put into a pile for use in the fields this comming spring, at the same time I am also sifting through the conventional compost piles using the harvester to glean usable potting material from those sources. Needless to say, this process and rebuilding will take a bit, a week or two anyhow, so from time to time updates may be slow.

At some point I also need to start cleaning out the chicken coop and composting that material and starting on the Humanure project, but that's a whole other blog right there!

Questions for Tim Peters

Next up in our series of Homegrown Goodness interviews with independent plant breeders and preservationists is Tim Peters of Peters Seed Research. Tim is an expert when it comes to grains and most importantly Perennial Grains, any questions you might have for Tim you can leave in the comments below! Give us a hand in exploring the amazing world that Tim has helped to build!

One of my new friends over at the Homgrown Goodness Message Board has started his own small seed company called Annapolis Seeds, there are lots of good selections over there for you to check out, be sure to surf on over there when you get a chance and check it out friends!