In the bright open kitchen at Lost Creek Farm, seed jars line one wall, each labeled in prime letters, a tapestry of state descent. Coal beans are brown and smooth, like river pebbles. The blood of the bloody butcher is a burglary, the kernels are tormented against the glass. Lima Beans Old Age Bernice Morrison is big and white, with a dowry of ebony.
When the tomatoes came in at the end of the summer, Mr Costello and Ms. Dawson are in bowls, each labeled with the names of savers seeds to divide them. In the next spring, they will plant those seeds, and the next fall, they will share the vegetables at dinner, telling about Italian immigrants who have supervised the plants for years.
“It's a living monument, those seeds,” said Mr Costello. “They are like language dialects.”
Four large companies – Bayer, a Monsanto owned; Corteva, owned by DuPont and Dow Chemical; ChemChina; and BASF – control over 60 percent of the global market for seeds.
“As far as our food system is broken, our seed system is also broken,” said Mehmet Oztan, is a joint owner of a small seed company in West Virginia and started a seed maintenance library. “The protection of these seeds essentially means the protection of existing and future food sources.” T
Farmers purchasing the corporate seeds are prohibited from patent law by replanting them. Even if they did, they would have an unreliable crop, as there are usually hybrid seeds good for one growth cycle.
“You can't save a hybrid seed,” said Lou Maiuri, 91, local seed saver. “I like to try to breed a mule.” Fat Horse beans he had in the centuries were old in a main course. He got them from a friend's aunt in the 1960s.