Many of us are starting to think about our vegetable gardens, starting seeds, and transplanting seedlings. We will go to the stores, browse the online or paper catalogues, and rummage through our well-stocked seed boxes to plan our gardens for a new season.
But what if we didn’t have seeds to rummage through or peruse at the stores? What if the world literally ran out of seeds? A natural disaster, serious human error, or other mishap has wiped out our seed stocks. What do we do now?
Europe’s ahead of the curve (aren’t they always!). Meet the Doomsday Vault. Officially named the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, its purpose is to harbour samples of the world’s crops. It is currently responsible for the protection of over 800,000 samples from over 20,000 different crops.
No small thing.
The facility is located in a frozen mountain on an island in the Svalbard archipelago. And if you’ve never heard of this island, you’re not alone. I had to look it up too. Why the mountains? To keep it cool if ever there should be a power outage. If you’re a seed keeper, you know what happens if seeds start to warm up after being kept cold. If you’re not…one word: mould. And mould destroys a seed’s viability.
I’m going to quote the Global Crop Diversity Trust here: “The Vault can therefore be considered the ultimate insurance policy for the world’s food supply.”
To me this is a strange statement because while this is a very cool (no pun intended) idea, believing that these seed collections are an insurance policy, a fallback when we hit rock bottom, is a difficult concept to swallow.
Food production is so much more than seeds. Sure, seeds are a pretty important part of the system but think about all of the other components. The soil, the nutrients, the pollinators, the clean water…all of these are equally as important and it seems to me that we need to start making an insurance policy for each of these factors.
What do you think? Respond to this post on my Facebook page.