Breeders and Keepers of Seed

Indigenous Royalties

In 2018 we began paying royalties in recognition of the Native breeders and Seed Keepers of the past and present, whose varieties have endured and continue to sustain us here on Turtle Island. We are indebted to those keen eyes, practiced hands and seed relationships, so often overlooked. Fedco’s catalog is rife with references to probable Native provenances.

We will continue to pay royalties, this year for varieties that either hold a Wabanaki (from this bioregion) story or that have a tribal designation in the name. These royalties will go to Indigenous nonprofit Nibezun, here in Maine. According to Nibezun,

Nibezun resides on sacred Wabanaki land along the Penobscot River, where we celebrate culture as medicine, provide an inclusive space for healing, and promote sustainability for all people and future generations. Nibezun is dedicated to preserving and promoting all aspects of Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet, and Abenaki ceremonies, traditions, customs, and language through practice and education. To advance this goal, we are deeply committed to the sacred, unbroken relationship between the People and the ancestral lands and waterways of the Wabanaki Confederacy. We believe that by working with our land and our cultural traditions, we can heal ourselves and promote healing in others, and in so doing we can heal the greater environment and recreate the symbiotic, reciprocal relationship with our Mother Earth enjoyed by the ancestors of the Wabanaki People.

Last year’s royalties came to $3,819.90. With an additional $1,667.10 from customers who donated their refunds, the check to Nibezun totaled $5,487 (nearly a 200% increase from the previous year.)

Black Benefit Sharing

When Black people were stolen out of Africa, torn asunder from their homelands and enslaved, they carried their seeds with them, to plant in new ground. Seeds: the memory and the culture of what was left and the hope of the future. Those plants became the basis of new food traditions in the Americas. But the enormous debt for such a purloined treasure has yet to be fully acknowledged or repaid. As a small step, we’ve designated about a dozen varieties that originate in Africa, or are part of Black foodways, for Black Benefit Sharing. 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these seeds will go to the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust for their work in helping farmers of color purchase their own farms.

Breeder Royalties

For many years Fedco has been proactive in paying royalties to the current generation of “backyard breeders” whose varieties we purchase from other sources. We recognize the value of their work and appreciate that they are keeping these seeds in the Commons, available to all.

The label Breeder Royalties at the end of a variety description indicates we pay royalties to the independent breeder because they are not receiving income from our purchase of the seed.

Last year these royalties totaled $3,635.49.

Ω Independent plant breeders

Continuing a long tradition of adapting varieties to local tastes and conditions, independent plant breeders are the backbone of culture. For the most part eschewing plant patents, their work is their reward. Fedco is committed to buying seed from small breeders to give economic support to their work. Though we can find cheaper seed elsewhere, we prefer not to compromise on quality or ethics. We hope you agree—by purchasing seed from Independent Breeders.