My Other Side of ‘Activism’ 
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My Other Side of ‘Activism’

My Other Side of ‘Activism’

By: Ed Vallejo

The first time I ever ate an artichoke as an adult, it was grown by my friend Larry in his back yard not too far from where I live now.  I watched this plant grow every time I visited, and when I arrived one day, he had already harvested it and cooked it, and offered it to me with only warm butter to dip it in.  It was marvelous.  Too bad I don’t have room to do something like that, I thought.  A couple of years later I find myself moved from an apartment to sharing a home with family members (a sign of the times?) that was nothing but mostly-dead grass, dirt, and weeds when we moved in. 

As I proceeded to make our home presentable and respectable for family to have guests, I kept in mind a growing need for ‘getting off the grid’ and decided to put in as many fruit generating plants and trees as space and décor would allow.   We had kept ‘patio tomatoes’ in containers many times before because we understood the difference between locally grown and store bought taste, but had never really ventured beyond that, having limited space as apartment dwellers.

Even though I was neck-deep into the ‘patriot-freedom-R3VOLUTION’ movement, the mounting pressure from so many directions led me to planting my first four foot by four foot raised bed of winter vegetables in the fall of 2010, and life has never been the same since.  With minimal time and effort required, I generated quite a bit of produce that was not only tastier than what I could buy, but increased the health of myself and my family because the convenience of having it ready at hand increased the frequency at which we ate it.  That hooked me into a world in which I will never stop learning or loving " sharing what I call ‘the Miraculous Unfolding of Nature’.

In the ensuing growing seasons I have learned quite a lot about ‘gardening’, but every bit of the experience I have gained has led me to understand a very important factor regarding ‘Survival Seeds’.  I’m talking about what a ‘prepper’ or survivalist would store up for times of emergency, generally sealed for long-term storage.  Most of what is available isn’t geared for the Arizona Low Deserts, and are likely to do poorly here the first season (which, in times of emergency, is when you need them to perform at their best) " if they produce, or even survive!  Without getting your seeds from a local seed bank or regional warehouse, you never know where the parent plant produced them.  Chances are, they are from a much milder climate, far from here. 

Once I came to the realization that with each successive crop my seed base became more ‘Arizona-hardy’, I shifted my focus.  I started allowing my entire gardens to go to seed, and collecting as many varieties as I can.  Then, I accumulate as much seed as I can of those I have successively planted the same strain for at least two seasons (that way I can be assured it has had time to adapt).  I can see a time in the not too distant future when I will be able to put together cans of a wide variety of food seeds for use here in Arizona that people will be able to store long term and be fairly confident of an abundant crop right out of the gate, as well as aid those new to gardening their own fresh food with easily-grown seed.

     Seed collecting is easy and simple.

Arugula was one of the first things that I grew that I fell in love with adding it to my salads.  It has a nutty flavor that is very distinct, loaded with vitamins, and grows very easily.  The flowers are pollinated by bees which love them, and seed pods form along the stalk.
Once the bottom pods begin to open, either the tops are cut off and laid out on a tarp to dry in the sun completely (if you are going to try for a second wave of seed), or the plants are uprooted whole and hung upside down over a tarp to dry.  

  When fully dry, the pods are broken open and the seed collected by hand, or the pods can be crushed finely and a fan or breeze can be used to separate the chaff from the seed, which can be quite small as you can see. 

Seeds are best stored in a dark, dry place that is kept at a non-fluctuating cool temperature.  You’d be amazed at the large amount of seed you get from a small area of plants, and the satisfaction you get holding them when you’re done just can’t be put into words.

My efforts in seed collecting has just taken a monumental leap.  Just this past weekend at the PrepperFestAZ in North Scottsdale, I made some promising contacts with the Valley Permaculture Alliance and the local seed library.  I also was given a catalog from the Native Seeds/SEARCH Organization that has seed of the traditional foods of Native American Indians of the Southwest available!  I am so excited because gaining ground in a positive direction like this gives me hope for a future that isn’t ‘genetically modified’ to live and die in one season, but perpetuates itself naturally with wonderful seed year after year.

Ed Vallejo, libertarian activist, lOV3Lutionary during both Ron Paul campaings, and host of one of the first and largest Ron Pual Meetups, turns his focus to surviving and prepping.


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