Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a good news story ... from Kew Gardens.

Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction. Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership has successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species, and have set their sights on saving 25% by 2020.
This story below is taken from the Kew Gardens (UK) website news and illustrates the important role that can be played by those dedicated to preserving species.
 click on 18 May 2010 to read more!

World's smallest waterlily brought back from the brink of extinction at Kew

Kew’s top propagation ‘code-breaker’, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, has cracked the enigma of growing a rare species of African waterlily. The 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum) is believed to be the smallest waterlily in the world, with pads that can be as little as 1 cm in diameter.

Detail of 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum)
A rare species of African waterlily, the 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum) has been propagated at Kew (Image: Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew).
Kew is one of those places that offers a sense of hope in a time of relative doom and gloom about the state of the natural world, where individuals, by doing practical things with plants, can make a real difference to biodiversity conservation.
Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
In a fitting success story to celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2010, Carlos Magdalena, a horticulturist at Kew, has discovered the secret of growing a rare species of African waterlily – bringing it back from the brink of extinction.

Struggling to survive in the wild

This ‘thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum), so named because it grows in freshwater hot springs, was discovered in 1987 by German botanist Professor Eberhard Fischer of Koblenz-Landau University, Germany. It was known from just one location in Mashyuza, Rwanda, in the south west of the country. However, it disappeared from this location about two years ago due to over-exploitation of the hot spring that fed its fragile habitat. Water was prevented from reaching the earth’s surface resulting in the desiccation of the few square metres where this species grew, and no plant is known to have survived in the wild.
Luckily, Professor Eberhard Fischer realised that the species was in jeopardy and he transported a few specimens to Bonn Botanic Gardens soon after its discovery. At Bonn, horticulturists were successful at preserving these valuable specimens and indeed they lasted for more than a decade. However, the species proved extremely difficult to propagate.
DO NOT USE Nymphaea thermarum carlos
Carlos Magdalena holding Nymphaea thermarum Image: Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew

Trial and error

As a result of a conservation plant exchange between the institute at Bonn and Kew, a handful of seeds and seedlings reached Kew in July 2009. All other known waterlily species start life as submerged plants, until large enough to send pads to the surface. ThereforeNymphaea thermarumseedlings were initially grown submerged like any other waterlily. But, at both botanic gardens, this method was unsatisfactory. Seedlings were barely clinging on to life and did not develop to adult stages.
Carlos, who has a track record in cultivating the rarest and most difficult plants, took on the challenge of learning the secrets of successfully propagating Nymphaea thermarum.
Over many months he ran a series of trials involving a range of temperatures, water hardness, pH and depth. Plants grown in harder water at shallower depths seemed to develop further. However, no plant reached maturity, which was disappointing as it seemed that every possible permutation known to have an influence on aquatic plant growth had been tested. Everything except the concentration of carbon dioxide and other gases, such as oxygen, which may be different in the environment where the plant grows naturally.  Perhaps there was something crucial about the plant's natural habitat of which he was not aware?
Waterlilies are among the most ancient of flowering plants. The 'thermal' waterlily could provide information about the evolution of flowering plants as it is truly unique. Our immediate priority is the ex situ conservation of the 'thermal' waterlily and thereafter, if the natural flow of water in its historic location can be restored, plants grown at Kew can then be reintroduced into the wild.
Carlos Magdalena, horticulturist at Kew

Cracking the code

Returning to the original German description of the species and its natural habitat supplied the final clue:
“it grows in damp mud caused by the overflow of a hot spring. Water reaches the surface at 50 °C but the plant colonizes an area where the water has cooled to a temperature of 25 °C”.
This meant that, unlike all other known waterlily species,Nymphaea thermarum did not grow submerged in the deep waters of lakes, rivers or marshes. The revelation was that this small, extremely rare and unusual species, with a spread of only 5 to 20 cm, grows in the damp conditions at the edge of a thermal hot spring – and this was the vital clue needed to crack the code.
With this knowledge Carlos did one final trial. He placed seeds and seedlings into pots of loam within small containers filled with water, thus keeping the water at the same level as the surface of the compost, at a temperature of 25 °C. In this way, the last remaining individuals of the species could be exposed to the concentrations of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air.

Seeing the plants flower for the first time

To his surprise and joy, the plants started to improve and after a few weeks, eight plants began to flourish, growing to maturity with thicker, greener and wider leaves. In November 2009, Kew’s collection of Nymphaea thermarum flowered for the first time.
Carlos Magdalena says,”When I received this donation from Bonn, I realised how important it was for the survival of the species to find a way of growing them successfully. At first they didn’t seem to respond to any of the traditional ways of treating these plants and they remained weak and failed to develop and eventually died. It was only when I searched a little deeper that the key I needed came to the surface. Now we have over 30 healthy baby plants growing here at Kew and some are producing seeds so soon we may have an army of these tiny waterlilies here at Kew. Its future in botanical collections seems secured for the long term.”

Watch the video | Read the Director's latest blog post

The 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum)
The 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum), a rare species of African waterlily, was recently brought back from the brink at Kew (Image: Paul Little, RBG Kew).

Interactive map - Explore Kew's work around the world

Find out how Kew scientists crack the code

Sunday, August 29, 2010

capturing a few moments at Mt Coot-tha...

... in a quiet corner of the Botanic Gardens a Mt Coot-tha around midday on Friday I did not pass a soul as I walked through a rainforested section of the gardens were sprinklers were playing in every direction and the sun was filtering through the overhead canopy making it such a cool, moist and quiet spot to wander after a very busy morning.

A spot that made me stop and gaze a while was this pond with lily pads and water flowing over some rocks into the pond. I took out my camera and clicked without worrying too much about angles and sunlight. And just now after downloading photos I'm reminded how for me the one's I might have thought quite poor actually have some redeeming features....as with this one above which to my mind is delightfully almost painterly.

I found this place mesmerising...the water, light, lush green and sound of water. 

Earlier on Friday Morning I met up with teachers and students from Cannon Hill State School for a session with 3 different classes from Grade 2, 3 and 4. All these children are involved with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program which has been set up in their school...so my presentation about the Homage to the Seed project and my art work was not an unfamiliar topic for these children. 
We had a wonderful morning... 3 classes came through and spent time with me and were excellent  participants in discussion about why seeds are so important and what part they play in our lives and. I brought in all kinds of things to show them and it was a lively morning that was over before I knew it.

We covered a lot of ground in a short time and it was inspiring to watch the light bulbs going off... children making connection between the materials I had brought in, what they have been learning and the importance of saving seeds. When the question came up about their favourite seed we all agreed most of us are very keen on chocolate...a seed they were off to see the tropical rainforest in the Geodesic Dome where there is a cacao tree.
I was delighted to hear they have been learning quite a bit about local indigenous culture from an aboriginal Elder who has been visiting their school. Many of the children were familiar with symbols in art as a result of these sessions with the Elder ... which made it much easier to explain the work I have been doing with cross-sections of rainforest fruits and other seedpod forms that are somewhat abstracted  and hold considerable symbolic resonance. 
This was an audience of switched on minds!

I was able to share the last packets of Select Organic seeds I had with the children to take back to their school garden. These were sent from the lovely people at Eden Seeds for the Open Studio Week in July.

Alf Finch
Alf Finch founder, in 1987, of Eden Seeds and now Select Organic.
I am pleased to be able to offer this selection of the world’s finest certified organic seeds”.

Old Traditional Open Pollinated Seeds,
No hybrids & No GMOs, No chemical treatment,
World's Finest Certified Organic Seeds
Australian Certified OrganicAustralian Quarantine and Inspection Service
We offer an extensive range of certified organic seeds, & many books as well. You can browse through our product catalogue & order online with our secure shopping-cart facility, or if you wish to phone or mail your order please see the details on our Contact Us page.

The other wonderful seed product I was able to share with the classes was also from the Studio Week. I was given a bag of these soap nuts by the people at www.gogreenathome.com.au and the co-convenor that week, Marilena, had been successfully using them for some time and could vouch for their success as a natural seed product that can replace the use of harsh washing detergents at home.

Soap Nuts - The magic of nature  -  (Sapindus Mukorossi)
How would you like a 100% natural cleaner that grows wild in the Himalayas and has been used for centuries in India, China and Nepal. It's even on supermarket shelves in Europe and it's cheaper than chemical alternatives.  They come direct from India.
Simply place a few of these amazing soap nuts into our small Wash bag and throw them in with your washing. They will leave your laundry clean and fresh for around 6 washes, no need for any other cleansers or fabric softeners. At around 10 cents per wash, why would you use anything else?

For more information about these amazing berries (click here)

or if you would like to try out some cleaning solution recipies (click here).

Soapnuts are 100%:
  • Pure and natural
  • Chemical free
  • Economical
  • Non allergenic (not a nut, really a berry)
  • Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal
  • Biodegradable
  • Wild harvested (organic)     
  • Beneficial to grey-water and septic systems
  • Not tested on animals
  • Easy to use  ...... and most importantly, effective

So the children and teachers left with a sample of these to try out in the class room and perhaps at home in the teacher's case!

a closed door and a secret garden...

Wednesday afternoon was spent in the library at the Gardens at Mt Coot-tha searching for various titles, one or two books were found I'd borrowed before and now with a little more time available the hope to do more reading has returned.

A quick check at the Seed lab found the door locked and no one at home. This was quite expected as Jason Halford, resident Seed Technician was still due back from his Northern Qld Seed-collecting mission.

I happened to bump into Gardens Caretaker Tony who had saved some seeds from a rather exotic bean  from Indonsesia he had grown to give me for my collection. I have forgotten to photograph these...which were quite a lovely shade of pale carmine.  While he was finding the seeds I managed to have a browse around his personal garden which is not really a secret...the hedge shown here is very low and all who habituate this 'behind the scenes' area are able to view his accumulating succulents and the particularly spectacular rock shingle borders he builds.
These circular and walled rocks were beautifully done and I immediately thought of places I saw in Scotland many years ago... Tony reminded me he is from Yorkshire... but asssured me they have their rock walls in abundance there too.... which I can recall if I think about it.

In a slightly secluded courtyard area that gets much summer sun are the plants below which caught my eye for the colours and various fascinating forms of the plants. Thank you to Tony for the interesting botanical diversion and adding something to the collection!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

a quiet august...


This month started quietly with much needed time out after an extraordinarily busy few months - particularly with the Open Studio Week at the Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha in mid July. You can read all about that in the July posts on this blog. Go to archives in the sidebar.

There were several excellent events held during Open Studio Week which I have yet to add a comprehensive post on. Above is Principal Seed Collector/Lab Technician Jason Halford spoke at length about the fascinating work he does in conjunction with the Millennium Seedbank Project. You can read various posts at this blog that elaborate on this work by clicking on his name above. Presently Jason is in Nth Queensland collecting species from the various regions he researched in the weeks before setting off. Once return from that trip those involved in seed cleaning will come to the Lab... and I shall look forward to seeing what has been collected and hearing stories from the north.

The Sunday Dialogue event brought together a range of topics and interesting speakers and participants. Shown above are Sally McCreath (Friends of Felton in the Darling Downs region) and Nicki Laws (from the Acland area of the Darling Downs). On the right is Corinne Unger who was a Churchill Fellow last year and gave an excellent presentation on her Fellowship work exploring key internationally recognised projects that have successfully rehabilitated old mine sites into sustainable future oriented projects such as the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. I wrote about the Darling Downs region here in May.

The following images are from the site Friends of Felton - They came to the city on August 4th to protest their concerns outside Parliament House. I was pleased to be able to come along for a while and say hello to Sally and others. These children made quite a statement - the yellow triangular signs - 'Save our food bowls' - very apt as the Darling Downs has long been known as the "food bowl" of Australia.

5/8/10. Hundreds of farmers and environmentalists gathered outside State Parliament in Brisbane yesterday to demand action to protect our farmland, our environment, and our communities from mining.
The protest was the lead story on the evening news bulletins of all 4 major TV channels.
Watch the video reports here -
Channel 10 (recommended!) Channel 9 Channel 7 ABC
PlaceStory (recommended)                   (From the FOF website)

During the Dialogue day on Seeds, Biodiversity and Sustainability at the studio Corinne's considerable experience with land regeneration in sensitive Mine rehabiliation work made for valuable exchange with Sally and Nicki, both living in the Darling Downs on rural properties in communities dealing with massive changes brought on by mining companies coming in. In the case of Acland - 95% of the town has been dismantled for mining in that area. The Felton community realised what it would take to delay or stop this happening in their region and mobilised to become a very articulate, well-planned voice in the fight to save their community.
Corinne gave quite an insight into the immensely challenging task of regenerating land - both from the point of view of land degradation, and unsatisfactory clean ups that can occur, as well as a picture of the precise work to get the soil ready, choose vegetation best suited to the area, plus the ideal plantings needed in order to establish regeneration that in time can be deemed successful.

Carolyn Nuttal (above) was also a speaker on this day and brought her extensive experience of creating gardens in schools to the discussion. In 1992 she set up a school garden in her local State Primary School where she was teaching. Over time, realising what a successful programme she had come up with, a book was written and  also published (and distributed) successfully in Japanese and Portuguese (for schools in Brazil). Carolyn is also involved with SUSTAIN QLD which I will refer to below.

On a different tangent August saw the move into the new studio I have been graciously offered to continue the Homage to the Seed work for the rest of the year. You can read about this Studio residency which is currently taking place at Percolator Gallery in Paddington via a recent post I wrote at the Studio blogThis excellent circumstance was set up and made possible by Helena Lloyd, owner of Brisbane's Percolator Gallery and I am indeed grateful to be the recipient of this very fine offer.... which is extremely timely and positive!

Despite calling August the "go-slow" month it has been far from that. Keeping a low profile is more the way to describe it... getting back into the studio for some uninterrupted hours has been vital and refreshing.... casting one's mind back over the year and then creating directions for the next months. Correspondences and connections have been caught up with and links to several interesting agendas made including an advocacy group still evolving called SUSTAIN QLD which looks at issues such as Food Security in this state. Attending a recent Dialogue event at the Brisbane City Library on Food in Schools was an great opportunity to learn more about what is happening across the community at State, regional and community level on this topic. With wide-ranging participation from across the health and education sectors, Food producers, and academic and grass roots layers... an important exchange took place amidst a room of passionate people....each with a strong, individual idea of what is needed for the future and it would seem the dedication to work towards that in the endeavors they are already involved with. An insirng group ...keen to find actions and pathways that lead to the most worthwhile results.

I was fortunate to meet people involved in the School Kitchen Garden programs  and I hope to go visit one or two of those schools soon. One of the schools has planned a trip to the Botanic gardens for tomorrow for 3 classes so a space is booked to do a "homage to the seed" presentation  to the various classes. Shall make sure to take a camera along!

So...August was quiet, but not that slow!! Sustaining connections  takes time... so worthwhile however when the conversation keeps growing and deepening - and the links keep intersecting and strengthening!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dialogue around Seed Banks...

Image via Permapoesis

From Civil Eats:
"As droughts threaten the wheat harvest in Russia, resulting in a ban on exports there this year that is driving up prices abroad, something entirely different now threatens one of the world’s most extensive collection of fruits and berries at the Pavlovsk Experimental Station, a seed bank 19 miles southeast of St. Petersburg: development."

Yesterday I posted on an story I'd found firstly at Civil Eats (click to read more) last week and then again at Permapoesis yesterday.

In May I posted on an outstanding book I'd found by Gary Paul Nabhan "Where our food comes from" which connects to yesterdays post because both refer to the work of Nikolai Vavilov:

Civil eats cont. :

"Perhaps one of the oldest in the world, the seed bank was started 84 years ago by Nikolai Vavilov, who died of starvation in one of Joseph Stalin’s labor camps in 1943. His seed bank was famously guarded by 12 scientists who eventually starved to death during the 900-day Siege of Leningrad, despite the fact that they were surrounded by edible seeds.

a court will decide on Wednesday if the “priceless” collection of 4,000 varieties from all over the world–which includes 1,000 types of strawberries, and 100 varieties each of raspberries, gooseberries and cherries–will be handed over to the Russian Housing Development Foundation to be cleared for housing.

Unlike the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, which maintains an immense dormant seed collection, Pavlovsk Experimental Station is an field seed bank, which means that all of the seeds must be regularly planted and saved. Currently, tens of thousands of plants are in the ground, and scientists argue that it would take years to move without the risk of losing varieties.

The erratic weather in Russia, as well as in much of the rest of the world, should be a wake up call reminding us why seed banks are so important: they give scientists the genetic material with which to develop varieties that can thrive in our planet’s changing climate.

campaign is underway to bring attention to the potential loss. Dr. Cary Fowler, director of The Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Rome, Italy-based organization that has focused in on the seed bank’s plight, had this to say to the BBC:
Norman Looney, president of the International Society for Horticultural Science, based in Leuven, Belgium, agreed the collection was unique. He said that with world food production likely to move north as a result of climate change, “these genetic resources will become even more important”.
Jim Hancock of Michigan State University, one of the world’s leading strawberry breeders, said the collection housed many Russian varieties that were exceptionally hardy and disease-resistant. “It would be a major tragedy if the collection were lost,” he said.

I was very pleased to have artist and blogger Nicola Moss respond to this post with thoughts and questions about Seed banks and Seed-saving rationale and processes.
After a year of dialogue with Jason Halford at the Seed lab at Brisbane Botanic Gardens who works on the 'Seeds for Life' project in conjunction with the Millennium Seedbank Project I am just starting to grasp the ways in which such seed banks can be seen as effective as well as hear opposing views or qualifications on aspects of the work.

Jason recently gave a talk on the subject for almost 2 hours, including question time, at the Open Studio Week I conducted in July at the Gardens. With an intensely engaged audience asking probing questions Jason put forward the idea that it takes a great many different measures at this time ... different responses to different challenges to begin to address the complexity of the situation. Many times in the Seed Lab he has repeated this idea to me.

This input has been slowly digested and helped along with significant reading where possible to become better informed - and the book above on Vavilov which I was unable to read at length still proved highly worthwhile and led to a series of further reading on related topics.

Prompted by Nicola's questions I wrote earlier today;

"I urge you to read about the Russian Seed Bank.

 If you go to the Civil Eats article it makes the point that unlike the Norwegian Seed Vault, MSB etc this Experimental Station 19 kms from the city is a "Field" seed bank - where all the seeds are regularly planted and saved. Currently tens of thousands of seeds are in the ground and scientists have argued it would take years for this to be moved without losing varieties.The reason for planned closure of this critical venture...is housing development. It has come to the worlds attention and there is now a global campaign in place to try to avoid the closure.

The fight to maintain our seed heritage is hugely complex because of factors like global warming- the need to have a certain stable climate to ensure species survive and so on. Research is critical to better undertstand this. Botanical Gardens, Zoos etc may have started, in part, as colossal vanities for the housing of colonial exploits. However many have no doubt been transformed into serious research centres focusing on highly critical issues.

I think this story from Russia underlines the vulnerability of maintaining long term projects like this active kind of seed bank you speak of... the whim of a govt or other bodies can irrevocably alter the future of such a venture. The fact it survived 900 days of Nazi occupation of Leningrad back in the early 1940's reminds us of the vulnerability of such programs.

Also having seen first hand the reality of attracting ongoing funding to Qld's Seed bank project with the MSB my question would be where would funds come from to manage the much more complex model of seed saving like this Russian model. What would it take for it to be identified as essential? Its become an intense political emergency in some places to regain the right to save seeds... Transnationals having come in and  upturned centuries of tradition and heritage.... the poorest countries on the planet are dealing with this right now.

The MSB and Norwegian models for seed banking may strike some as highly problematic. What I have been noticing though is seed banks have been cause to grab the publics attnetion ....they seem to be the one thing that has reached broader public consciousness of the critical problem with our planet's seed heritage.

Imagine if people of vision had chanelled their funds away from, say, purchase of a $200 million dollar Picasso painting for example and instead into setting up a foundation for a version of the Russian model! Many appear to direct their wealth to personal vanities and statements that run counter to what would benefit the planet or its population in any way.

Replicating the individual venture of saving seeds in our back yard to national and global models... now that would be something! Thanks for prompting this dailogue Nicola... we need vastly more community dialogue on this!!!"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

up close.... from Kew Gardens

Escape pods: The Kew Millennium Seed Bank

These strange alien structures are among the seeds and pollen conserved at the Kew Millennium Seed Bank. Seeds from more than 10% of the world's flowering plants – around 30,000 species – have been collected in the decade since the bank was established. Kew is celebrating this milestone with an exhibition Banking on Life (4 April – 13 September), and a book of electron micrographs The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers by Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley (Papadakis, £35)   View here:

Banking on Life (Kew exhibition): Epilobium angu seed

Fireweed seed (Epilobium angustifollum) photographs - Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley.

Banking on Life (Kew exhibition): Lamourouxia viscosa
Lamourouxia viscosa seed

Banking on Life (Kew exhibition): Scutellaria orientalis seed

Eastern sun (Scutellaria orientalis) seed

Banking on life (Kew exhibition): Ornithogalum dubium seed

Sun star (Ornithogalum dublum) seed

Banking on Life (Kew exhibition): Castilleja seed

Seed of Castilleja flower, popularly known as Indian paintbrush or prairie-fire.

This segment below is from the Kew Gardens website and refers to the Queensland chapter of the Millennium Seed Bank Project. (Note: not a recent summary - this perhaps is from around 2005)

Seeds for Life (Qld): a Seed Conservation Partnership between the QSEED Consortium and the RBG Kew Millennium Seed Bank Project

An ambitious seed collection and research program for Queensland.
This partnership is one of seven Australian partnerships in the Millennium Seed Bank Project (MSBP).  Over 6 years, the 'Seeds for Life' programme will collect seeds, herbarium specimens, and other associated information from 1,000 Queensland plant species.  These seeds will be stored as duplicate collections in Queensland and the UK, and used in research undertaken by Griffith University and the University of Queensland, as well as the Millennium Seed Bank Project (MSBP) in the United Kingdom.  Similar work will be undertaken in all other states as part of other MSBP partnerships. 
The three 'Seeds For Life' themes are: 1) Endangered species and ecosystems; 2) Landscape rehabilitation; and 3) Training and extension.
The MSBP will contribute considerable direct funding ($1,590,000) and in-kind support to the Seeds For Life Project. The QSeed Partnership will also contribute significant funds, together with in-kind contributions.  Financial support from the Australian mining industry has enabled a more comprehensive program. 
The Queensland Seeds for Life Project is a collaboration between the Millennium Seed Bank Project at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, United Kingdom, and Queensland research, non-government organisations and Government bodies collectively called the QSeed Partnership.
Project targets include: 1,000 species new to MSB; two PhD studentships, three technical training attachments and one post-doctoral programme.

Go to the Kew Site here.

followers are also leaders....

In the blogosphere most blogs have followers - call them what you will.

When a new follower clicks on I like to go visit and see what they are bringing to their realm.  Over and over again I am inspired and for so many different reasons. I had a sensationally busy June and July and that's when I had new followers coming along for the ride both here and at my other blog and was finding it hard to keep track.
Can I say welcome to all who have signed on.... its great to be part of a expanding dialogue.
Today there was a new blogger on board and I was so thrilled to see he had posted a story that I also discovered last week and had not yet got round to posting on. He has more than one blog and is doing the most fascinating projects. This one here: The artist as family links with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, as well as a residency in Newcastle previously and currently yet another engaging one.


Artist as Family has been working on a public food forest in Sydney. We proposed this project after being invited by the Museum of Contemporary Art to make a new work for the exhibition In the Balance: Art for a Changing World. We have been documenting the developments of our Food Forest here as it transitions from artist's concept to community asset. This blog will also link to like-minded activities, thinkers, communities and cooperatives around the world who are making intense, creative and joyous transitions to more ecologically embedded ways of living.

Enjoy life, get active, fight the private-capital-pollution ideology that has caused ecological crises!

The other blog which I discovered first is called  Permapoesis and links you to other projects by this industrious artist Patrick Jones. Of course I was immediately drawn to this image...

Twelve Russian scientists famously chose to starve to death rather than eat the unique collection of seeds and plants they were protecting for humanity during the 900-day siege of Leningrad in the second world war. But the world's first global seed bank now faces destruction once more, to make way for a private housing estate.
Read on here.

This was the same story I found at Civil Eats last week:

Development Threatens One of World’s Oldest Fruit Seed Collections

August 9th, 2010  By Paula Crossfield
As droughts threaten the wheat harvest in Russia, resulting in a ban on exportsthere this year that is driving up prices abroad, something entirely different now threatens one of the world’s most extensive collection of fruits and berries at the Pavlovsk Experimental Station, a seed bank 19 miles southeast of St. Petersburg: development.
Perhaps one of the oldest in the world, the seed bank was started 84 years ago by Nikolai Vavilov, who died of starvation in one of Joseph Stalin’s labor camps in 1943. His seed bank was famously guarded by 12 scientists who eventually starved to death during the 900-day Siege of Leningrad, despite the fact that they were surrounded by edible seeds. Now, a court will decide on Wednesday if the “priceless” collection of 4,000 varieties from all over the world–which includes 1,000 types of strawberries, and 100 varieties each of raspberries, gooseberries and cherries–will be handed over to the Russian Housing Development Foundation to be cleared for housing. READ MORE

An interesting thought from Patrick's blog by Jiddu Krishnamurti to leave you with:
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

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