Reviewed by Larry Siegel
Seeds have developed a certain cachet; I can number a half-dozen books I have read on the subject in recent years. This is long overdue; the seed represents, after all, the vital link between yesterday and today and tomorrow (though the mad scientists are probably at work to eliminate this link). To the mix we can now add Seedtime by Scott Chaskey. The inner jacket of the book refers to Chaskey as a poet, farmer, and educator. There are moments poetic and there are moments agricultural, but, in writing this book, Chaskey has primarily assumed the role of educator. The words, and thoughts, of many individuals have been distilled and presented. (The list of sources runs eight pages and it would surprise me not at all to learn that Chaskey has read most of them.)
Subtitled On the History, Husbandry, Politics, and Promise of Seeds, it is just that, the various facets interwoven to create a whole. The reader will gain a historical perspective, an understanding of the current state of affairs, and a sense as to how current conditions might be addressed and altered. The reader is also introduced to a number of individuals and organizations dedicated to that task. The overriding question, for me, is whether this cadre of folks can pull it off. I hope Chaskey’s book finds its way to a readership beyond the NOFA audience, because, in my opinion, it is only in numbers that profound changes can occur. That they need to occur is unmistakable. But, the likes of Monsanto will not bow out gracefully.
As a footnote, the cover photo by Maria Bowling sparkles. If one could, in fact, tell a book by its cover, this cover is telling one to read on.