Ep.5 - Scattered Seeds
Will Bonsall is a veganic farmer, author, environmental advocate and director of The Scattered Seed Project in Industry, Maine, USA.
The Scatterseed Project, which was featured in the documentary Seed: The Untold Story, was started by Will Bonsall over 40 years ago. His vision was to grow a diverse array of crops in order to protect diversity and connect people with their horticultural heritage. Scatterseed's ideological origins were founded in the concern that genetic material preserved in various institutional collections such as seed banks are not available to the general public. Will states that the most sustainable place for preserving genetic diversity is in the horticultural landscape, the gardens and farms of the world. Accessible settings where varieties are actively used, evaluated, and in some cases adapted and evolved.
In 2019 Irish Seed Savers Association (ISSA), while re-cataloguing their long term collection housed in an onsite frozen storage unit, happened upon a collection of seed envelopes with beautiful handwriting, denoting names and countries of origin of several parsnip varieties These had been sent to ISSA in the early 1990's by Will Bonsall.
In 2021 ISSA extracted one of these frozen seed packs, with the name Niachuri Parsnip marked on the envelope. While parsnip seed does not usually remain viable for very long, with the germination rate dropping by 50% in the first year of storage. Irish Seed Savers fortunately managed to germinate, grow and saved the seeds, despite the original seeds being over 20 years old. Following the successful harvest of the Niachuri Parsnip in Ireland, Irish Seed Savers returned some seed to Will Bonsall in the USA, who had actually lost this variety since its initial collection 30 years ago, and so the circle of seed, and of life begins again.
Join Will as he recounts his journey, beginning from his early career in the commercial mining industry, to becoming an influential figure in the rise of seed activism.
To find out more about Will Bonsall and the Scattered Seed Project you can visit: