On Wednesday, August 6 at 6:30pm in the Abbott Room of the Belfast Free Library, the Belfast Co-op is hosting Fedco Seeds founder CR Lawn, who will give a free presentation titled, "Do you know where your seed comes from, and why does it matter?"
In his new book "Seedtime", Long Island CSA (community supported agriculture) farmer and poet Scott Chaskey quotes CR as saying, "Make no mistake. There can be no sustainable food system or sustainable seed system as long as our farms are dependent on multinationals like Monsanto and Syngenta" for their seeds.
Thirty years ago economist David Vail (now Adam Catlin emeritus professor of Economics at Bowdoin College) labeled Maine's organic farmers as "chickenshit farmers" because they were so dependent on DeCoster Egg Farms chicken manure for maintaining their fertility. (DeCoster's was repeatedly cited for egregious violations of labor and environmental laws). Vail's expose catalyzed a revolution toward deeper organics among Maine farmers.
Now CR asks whether Maine's farmers are "spineless beauties" (a Syngenta zucchini variety by that name is offered in the Fedco catalog) because they rely so heavily on multinational corporations as sources for much of their seed. How do we break this addiction, he challenges, and build a truly sustainable seed system and why does it matter?
CR Lawn founded Fedco Seeds Cooperative in 1978, a hybrid worker/consumer cooperative based in Waterville, and has worked as a coordinator there since. His series of essays, "Do you know where your seed comes from?" first appeared in the 1995 Fedco catalog. He has composed the Seeds division Section of the catalog and written variety descriptions for many years.
CR served for 17 years on the Board of Directors of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), with two terms each as Board Treasurer and Board Secretary. He also served on the Common Ground Fair Steering Committee for 10 years and currently writes for MOFGA's newspaper, "The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener", and counts the gate at the Fair.