1973-2003 Thirty Years Later
written by A.M. Kapuler Ph.D.with corrections and amendations by Linda Sylvester Kapuler & Dylana KapulerThe Early Years
Conceived in unity and born for the common good, as part of the back to the land movement inspired by the consciousness revolution of the '60's, 2 Al's and a Linda founded Stonebroke Hippie Seeds in a $90 a month rental house in Jacksonville Oregon in 1975. We knew little about gardening, less about seed saving and nothing about business. A few years later we changed the name to Peace Seeds.Here is a true story: Mushroom was standing by the sink cleaning seeds from a Buttercup Winter Squash, putting the internal pulp and seeds into the compost bucket when it occurred to him that three months later he would buy a packet of the same seeds costing the equivalent of an hour's work in the gladiolus field where he was glad to get $1.92 takehome pay while in reality he could save the very seeds he was tossing out, completing the cycle of saving the seeds from the foodplants he and his family had grown in their backyard garden Completing the cycle, from plant to seed to plant, endlessly with thousands of cultivars in most all the foodplants of the temperate zone on planet Earth was our dharma for the next twenty years. From the outset we were organic, we were hip that poisoning the earth with 'cides and synthetic fertilizers was not the way to adundance, goodness and biodiversity. At first we turned the land by hand, double deep digging, by choice;. Later on tillers and tractors came into our lives like credit cards and bank accounts. Persistently we collected and amplified seed stocks of the best hierlooms that came our way. On a visit one year to Frances Hoffman in Nampa Idaho, we saw huge amaranth plants with long thick spikes the she likened to elephants in her garden. She raccounted that the heirloom seeds had been passed on since the 1880's by devoted woman gardeners and originally came from Germany. Some 20 years later a visitor from Peru saw one in our garden and exclaimed "Quihuicha" She identified it as one of the ancient staple Andean grains. So the seeds went from Peru to Germany to us. An early paradigm was 'seeds are atoms'. Inscrutible, True It was the radical hippie era, salads, the main staple of our diets had a minimum of 20-30 kinds of leaves, roots and flowers. Non-violence (ahimsa) was a major interest. Meditation on the mad violence and misuses-of energy in our- world-led to scrutiny of the human food system. Discoveries were made that reduced the amount of killing in our day by day eating and growing process. Tops of carrots, radishes, parsnips, turnips were replanted to give new roots or at least to flower and make seed. Garlic and onion bottoms were replanted. They regrew. This process 'snibbitting' encouraged a different view of life, a gentler and more loving touch in the connection between growing food and nuturing our loved ones. We ate and replanted the same garlic for three years. We saw in the apples and other roseaceous fruits the core of a perennial, non-violent food system, for temperate zone humanity. The world spins and we city-kids became gardeners and farmers, falling in love with one another and life itself. Alan Venet, Linda Sylvester and A1 Kapuler worked beyond the norm and into the future from an infinite present that gave us daily miracles in the garden. Our experience progressed from human foodplant cultivars to the planetary genome pool. Our interests expanded to include the local oregonian species, the endangered and extincting bioregional species, and the world flora Peace Seeds, initially A Planetary Gene Pool Service and now A Planetary Genome-Pool Resource and Service was born from the need to provide a way to conserve biodiversity, from the stoned tripping high dream of peace and goodness for everyone, and from the derelection of humanity allowing the ongoing destruction of the biological world.
The Middle Years: After saving the seeds for hundreds of cultivars, we began to search for a way to understand the structure of plant diversity. We wanted to grow and collect kinds central to the biodiversity of the world. So we carne to Rolf Dahlgren and his bubble mapping system which allowed us to represent the groups of plants in a way that facilitates a kind of gardening that optimizes diversity, Olaf Brentmar and Mushroom worked together in the beginnings of what we then called 'coevolutionary gardening'. In its subsequent development, we call it 'kinship gardening'. Kinship gardening optimizes diversity, provides guideways for permaculture and is very interesting.Another story: Mushroom was quite upset after a sister got on his case for talking about kingdoms of organisms. She, quite rightly, pointed out that slugs, slime mold, bacteria and daisies have no kings, that it's a human thing and as such misconstrues the actual relationships among organisms. He told his sad tale of the paradox of name and meaning to Linda and she thought for a few minutes and said "why don't you take the g out of kingdom since that gives you kindom? Isn' that what you've been talking about anyway? Kin. And that was another fundamental paradigm change. Mushroom was quite upset after a sister got on his case for talking about kingdoms of organisms. She, quite rightly, pointed out that slugs, slime mold, bacteria and daisies have no kings, that it's a human thing and as such misconstrues the actual relationships among organisms. He told his sad tale of the paradox of name and meaning to Linda and she thought for a few minutes and said "why don't you take the g out of kingdom since that gives you kindom? Isn' that what you've been talking about anyway? Kin. And that was another fundamental paradigm change. Kinship gardens flourished during the era when Al Kapuler, became Research Director of Seeds of Change. Seeds of Change, a national organic seed company, brought certified, organically grown seeds- of hundreds of heirlooms, open pollinated and originally developed flower and foodplants to tens of thousands of gardeners. We support the connection between the seeds and the plants with whole cycles, with the needs for fertility enhancing regimes in our composts, cover crops, rotations, and in the grexes that come from mufti-mixed hybrid populations of choice cultivars as a way to adapt vegetables and flowers to our own ecosystems and to radical weather. In the process we discovered that many F1 hybrids give rise to stable and valuable lines after a few generations. So after growing Sweet 100 Tomato for a decade and saving seeds yearly, we had a open pollinated line which we called Peacevine Cherry Tomato. Some years later a study of Vitamin C content in 35 varieties of cherry tomatoes found Peacevine Cherry to be the highest, higher, even than its parent. Another successful open pollinated line from a hybrid is True Gold Sweet Corn from Golden Jubilee Sweet Corn. While we explored kinship gardens of annual temperate zone foodplants, family level kinship gardens of the Asteraceae (daisies), Solanaceae (tomato, potato family). Apiaceae (carrots) Lamiaceae (mints), and the world flora, including one inside a 30'x96' greenhouse, that flourishes to this day, Mushroom continued to explore directions for nutritional selection based on the free amino acids that are used by our cells to make proteins. He came to this from the crossection of reality and the road. Many times, as a vegetarian on the move he'd stop in at any one of innumerable cafes for a plate of french fried potatoes. On one particular occasion, looking intently at the potatoes while lavishly pouring ketsup on them, he thought 'the food value in these fried potatoes is nil so it must be in the tomato sauce".. Remarkably, the juices of fruits and vegetables have several to many of the 21 amino acids used to build proteins. Tomatoes have 17/21, and 6 in goodly amounts. Dr. Sarangamat Gurusiddiah of Washington State University in Pullman Washington collaborated with us for many years in doing hundreds of high pressure liquid chromatography analyses for free amino acids in the juices of the organically grown vegetables and flowers we were growing. Free amino acids of the kinds used to build proteins are found in the petals of sunflowers and marigolds, in snap beans and snap peas, in squash and yacon, in carrots and broccoli (green more than white), in sweet corn, in gobo, in cabbage and kale, in tomatoes and potatoes (as much free aminos as in protein-3% each), in zucchini and winter squash, in onions, garlic, leeks, in beets and in giant groundcherries, in chicories and radicchios. in the new growth of bamboo, the root of the licorice plant, in the tops of fenugrek and shungiku, in arugula and the roots of black salsify.
The '90's: After Seeds of Change bought the mail order business of Peace Seeds turning it into Deep Diversity, Al Kapuler began earnestly to breed for the public domain as part of a program to provide meritable new introductions based on nutrition and originality. All our seeds are bred using classical genetics giving us and the gardening public open pollinated true-breeding lines. The opportunity to provide unique cultivars for the organic community was an inspiration. Now we have the Martian Purple Sweet Corns, Tiger's Eye Sunflowers, the tall and grand Marigolds including Red Metamorph, China Cat, Orange Sunshine, La Ribera, and Nutribud Broccoli, Swanlake Melons, Gaia Snap Bush Beans, True Gold, True Platinum, Rainbow Inca, Martian Jewels, Double Red and Antholutea Sweet Corns, Savoy Kales, Turnip Grex, Three Beet Grex, Pearls of Heaven and Newburg Onions, Opal Creek, Sugaree and Green Beauty Vine Peas, Purple Parsley Bush Peas, Early Moonbeam Watermelons, Endurance, Gloriosa, Sunshine and Dragon's Fire Sunflowers ..... As Peace Seeds had moved north of its birthplace to Corvallis, Alan Venet and Cheryl Lee began Southern Oregon Organics, another seed company devoted to heirlooms, organics and ecosanity. Several years later they began a collaboration with David Seber leading to the Internet organic seed company Sow Organic Seeds found at organicseed.com and gardening in Williams, in southwestern Oregon The changing era and the discoveries of molecular biology brought genetically modified organisms into our awareness, our food stores and our lives. Now GMO's, the patenting and ownership of living creatures and the consequences of scientific discoveries in the realm of cells, viruses and macromolecules are increasingly prominant in our concerns.
The New Millenium 2000 and beyond With the introduction of transgenic chimaerics into the biosphere, a new era of life has begun. These experiments in the genetics of foodplants laced with genes from viruses, bacteria, fungi and other creatures are being tested on humanity, unlabelled and regarded as safe. in many foods, mostly processed as if to disguise their origin. Among the alternatives to the slaughterhouse food system are widespread gardens, extensive cultivation of soybeans for tofu, miso, tamari, tempeh and edamame, cultivation of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, biodiverse silvaculture, water, soil and species conservation and Mollisonian permaculture. As an alternative to GMO's, from the Andes come many ancient, generationally tested foodplants of great value. While we are familiar with potatoes, peppers (Capsicums) and winter squash (Cucurbita maxima) which are native to the Andes, these montane ecosystems have given rise to other useful crops including yacon, oca, maca, zambo, arracacia, the Andean lupin, mashua, mauka, ulluco, and others. Consider this example: Yacon is a relative of the sunflower, the jerusalem artichoke, the dahlia, with large sweet tubers. It has several merits. The tubers contain inulin, a polymer of fructose that is not digested by our alimentary canal but is metabolized by the lactobacilli in our large intestine. Thus it feeds us B Vitamins, including B-12. Yacon plants have central crowns of eyes used for propagation, Laterally and extending to underneath the crown are the edible storage tubers, to 2 pounds, that are virtually tasteless on harvest but that sweeten up after several weeks in storage at room temperature. This is an example of a non-violent food plant. It provides a delicious vegetable containing the free amino acids isoleucine, valine, asparagine and glutamine. Then too, in our Willamette Valley garden, transplanting a greenhouse grown crown division in a gallon or 2 gallon pot gives about 10 pounds of tubers in one growing season of April to November. They like lots of water during summer and early fall. We have gardened in the Willamette Valley for fourteen years. It has been our good fortune to lease 2.5 acres with deep and fertile soil and abundant water. Currently, our annual seed list is 2 pages with 75 cultivars. In 2003, we grew about 150 pounds of the tuberous, edible rooted Shamrock plant (oxalis), the second most common Andean foodplant. At the turn of the millenium, Al Kapuler retired from Seeds of Change and resumed Peace Seeds. Development of more nutritious crops for the Willamette Valley, Oregon, the Cascadia Bioregion, the localization of our activity to our ecological correspondances, the economical and efficient use of our energy resources, increasing use of microorganisms to enhance our gardening, these things interest us now. We continue to work for Peace, overcoming and persisting through our own frailties and lack of insight, growing further into breeding for the public domain, selecting and developing nutritionally improved cultivars, and engaging kinship gardens where and whenever possible promoting gardening, conservation, organics and biodiversity.
Acknowledgements and Appreciation Extensive thanks go to many folks for their myriad contributions to Peace Seeds and a healthy, fertile world. The following are some of the most prominant contributors: Eric Ackerson, Doug Ackland, Alan Adesse, Aprovecho, Monk Bergin, Jerry Black, Lindsay Bradshaw, Olaf Brentmar, Alice and Hal Brown, Heather Coburn, Craig Crowder, Carol Deppe, Don Eminhiser, Ianto Evans, Yvonne Frost, Peter Gilman, Kathy Ging, Green Journey's Steve and Aline, J.J. Haapala, Gabriel Howearth, Frances Hoffman, Scott Jarvis, Carl Jones, Kusra Kapuler, Lester Ketchie, Tracy and Dan Lamblin, Peter Liebes, Lost Valley Educational Center, Peter Miller, Steve Northway, Rich Pecoraro, Jennifer Peterson, Christian Petrovich, Joe Reeder, Steve Rose, Chris Roth, Marcus LaRusso, Bina Schulte, Seed Saver's Exchange, Howard Yana Shapiro, Hope Shepherd, Curtis Showell, George Stevens, John Sundquist, Taylor, Craig Thomas, Tobias, Louisa Tompkins, Scott Vlaun, Judy Weiner, Ken Williams, Frank and Susan Wise, Coelesta Yeoman and the many other people who have planted, weeded and shared with us the work, joy and trials of life. Distinguished thanks go to Dr. Robert Nagourney for successfully treating Mushroom's lymphoma. Since the mid 1980's, we have published eccentrically with a 3-4 year interval the Peace Seeds Resource Journal. The last issue was Volume 9, 2001. These journals provide an ongoing account of our work with kinship gardening, free amino acid nutrition in our foodplants, the phylogenetics of food plant orders and families under headings of Planetary Ecology, Gardening, Botanical Science, Health and Nutrition. Special thanks to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez. The Beatles and The Grateful Dead.
The following three articles are from Dr. Kapuler's "2001 Peace Seed Research Journal". They are about GMO's and plant species preservation. Following the papers there are descriptions of the Peace Seed Research Journals available through our "Books and Journals" sales icon coming soon.
It has been many years since our beginnings as organic seed farmers. The issues that drove us then have become even more relevant in these real and uncertain times. Thank you Alan for the light you show and I hope many of our interested customers and friends consider your journal as part of their libraries.