Growing a weed (no, not that kind) - how farming should embrace the wild

by Vivian Diep in September 9th, 2022

Wheat or weed? Depends on who’s looking

Mon Aug 29

It seems like climate change is ruining everything, but it’s only just getting started. Part of the preparation for major problems to come includes securing our food supplies. Pest, disease, and weather threaten much of our monocrop agriculture (where a single crop is grown in the same field every year), but potential solutions are already growing — literally. By increasing diversity in crops, the chances they’ll all die from the same problem decreases.

But this goes against modern agriculture. In fact, the industry sees the accidental new varieties of wheat at the borders of their monocrop fields as weeds. This is because monocrops are highly efficient and profitable. Switching to polycrop farming (where multiple crops are grown at once), however, is just the start of food security. What we introduce to the previously single-crop fields has to be unique and diverse, too.

The differences in “wild” native food crops could help us grow more resilient crops — if scientists can find them. Some organisms are found on tribal lands, requiring informed consent which isn’t yet a standardized process. Further, who gets access to the valuable genetic resource after research and how usage could be restricted to prevent corporate monopolization is still being debated. It’s a mess of negotiations between nations, agencies, tribes, and corporations.

In the meantime, botanical gardens are teaming up with Native American tribes to expand the native plant sections of the gardens and ultimately decolonize botany. This not only includes reintroducing Indigenous food sources from their “wild” classification but dismantling the false dichotomy of “wild” versus “domesticated” — all while documenting how agriculture worked for these tribes.


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🎬 Action of the Week

It seems every week climate change takes on a new victim. This week, we’re bringing attention to the flash floods that have already taken over 500 lives in Pakistan. Tens of thousands of homes have been damaged or completely destroyed, and those affected are in dire need of aid. Head to Penny Appeal to donate today and help a family in need.



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When life gives you dandelions, weed make a salad!

Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive

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