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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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                                           Parish Hill High School

            Think Organic

      The subject of my capstone project is about organic seeds and gmo seeds and I compared and contrasted them. The project required me to do a lot of research  about GMO seeds because I didn\'t know that much about them. I do know details about organic seeds because that\'s what I try to create in my greenhouse. My project I did to go along with my paper is growing organic plants, then find and dry the seeds from the plant and store them to use again next year.

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Have you ever considered creating a garden, but also wanted to know where all your seeds and plants that you included came from? The solution to this is purchasing organic seeds or saving your own. Although it can be more time consuming, it can be fun to collect and in the end you know where your plants are coming from. Organic, or heirloom, is grown or made without the use of  artificial chemicals. GMO, which stands for genetically modified organisms, are organisms whose genetic material has been altered to the means of genetic engineering, which is typically what is sold in stores. Organic seeds are higher quality  because you know where they came from and the background of them. Also, saving the seeds from your plants could help you in the future by knowing that they were not made using artificial ingredients. Using heirloom seeds for sustainable gardening is beneficial because the true breeding plants produce fruits and vegetables that are more nutritious and taste better than genetically modified plants.  Organic plants are also easy to regrow from generation to generation, providing more food for less money.

At a large commercial store such as Walmart, one would see the organic section of the produce aisle. Organic is plants grown/made/produced without using artificial chemicals. There are such things as organic farms and organic seed farms such as my expert source. Organic gardening is done by producing crops by avoiding the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, And growth regulators. To become a certified organic farm there\'s some steps that need taken before a farm can be stamped organic. The USDA website states,

“Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may be used.”(USDA1)

The first step in becoming an organic farm is to have to have a USDA employee come to the location and check it for all the chemicals used Genetically modified organisms, GMOs, are organisms whose genetic material has been altered to the means of genetic engineering. Most of the time no one except for the people that make it know what\'s in it. These chemicals and plants are created in a lab using high-tech and sophisticated techniques like gene-splicing. These unintended changes are possible differences in the food’s nutritional values, toxic and allergic effects, lower crop yields and unforeseen harm to the environment that cannot be recalled. Summing all this up, the GMO foods that you get told are healthy, are often not as healthy as people think. Since it is a vegetable or fruit, it is easy to say that it has the traditional nutrition values, however the purchasers cannot see all of the chemicals that are used to grow that food.   

    Organic seeds have a lot of advantages and disadvantages but this is also the case GMO seeds. The unbeneficial thing about organic seeds is that when making the seed organic, over the generations, which is just a fancy word for years, the plants desired traits will change slightly. Over the years the world has lost an estimated 75 percent of its food biodiversity, and control over seeds shorted from farming communities to a handful of multinational corporations. Who even knows what there grown with and preserved with. GMO seeds are not the greatest too. When you plant the seeds, they are made with pesticides and will have residue on them. For example if you buy the corn GMO seeds to plant in the field for your livestock, when the corn grows it will have the pesticides that they used to grow it in the plant then your animals would be eating the pesticide residue that\'s left on it. But, if you have organic seeds you won\'t have to worry about your livestock eating it and getting ill. Organic seeds are more healthy, which is the reason why I and so many others choose to produce them.

Saving seeds is very beneficial. If you have the ability to save seeds and regrow them, then you can help supply many generations to come. One tool of gardening is permaculture. In the 1970s, two australian men named permaculture after the words “permanent” and “agriculture”(Never Ending food 1).  Organic seed supply\'s many generations to come. Also by saving seeds over and over again reduces the cost of going to the store and buying some. Planting the seeds in the same soil as before helps the seeds build a strong foundation because they know how to grow with the soil. Therefore, that makes the plants build a strong gene pool and also means that the seeds from that plants will have a strong gene pool to grow off of.

Saving seeds is very simple process. After the seeds are planted and they grow that is when you harvest the seeds again or for the first time.Here is some steps to follow. First you need to know where the seeds are. For example let\'s use marigolds flowers, the seeds are in the middle part of the flowers (see appendix figure 1). How to take them apart is pull the rest of the dead flower petals because when they\'re ready that\'s how you tell and break it in half vertically. Take them out and throw the shell part away. Comparing to another plant such as morning glories, the process would not be the same. When morning glories are ready to harvest they look like a little ball and turn brown (see appendix figure 2),  to get the seeds out you gently squish them and the little black seeds fall out. After I take the marigold seeds out of the shell I place them on the paper towels to dry. I do that to all the seeds I dry. When the seeds are dry you may notice that they become lighter or change in color. The seeds are dry and it\'s time to store the seeds. You want to store your seeds either on brown paper bags or in airtight containers (see appendix figure 3).

“A quick and easy test is that is that seeds will break in half instead of bending when folded if their moisture level is 8% or less. Also hard shelled seeds, such as beans or corn, will shatter instead of mashing when placed on concrete and struck with a hammer”” (Ashworth.29).

 You also want to label your seeds correctly or at least put the name of what the seeds are, the date and year collected. Another way to save the seeds is to freeze them. Seeds are freezable if you store them in airtight containers or bags. To regrow your seeds just simply plant them again. But when you plant them again to keep them organic do not use and pesticides or fertilizers on them.

When you have your seeds all stored away you can call this a seed bank. A seed bank stores seeds and preserves genetic diversity. Those will become stronger on the next generation. My expert source, Nan Hayden, said “whether you a planting a garden this year or saving seed for a future garden, you need to pick the freshest seed available. All seeds do have a shelf life and deteriorate over time. Start with recently harvested seed which is the freshest seed available.” (Hayden)

     I\'ve had a greenhouse(see appendix figure 4) for the past three years and I\'ve been growing flowers in vegetables every year. Over the year I\'ve saved a lot of seeds. In my greenhouse, I use organic soil, than in the garden we don\'t use pesticides or fertilizers. Most of the seeds I plant in my greenhouse are seeds I saved from the year before or organic seeds from the store. The seeds from the store are marked so the plants don\'t get mixed up with my other seeds. I only consider three kinds of my seeds generation seeds, marigolds, green beans, and sunflowers. Every year I start growing plants in my greenhouse around late april, early may, and then I finish around late july and put it all away. This last season I plants around 240 sunflowers and 160 marigolds. This is way less than the year before. I share the huge abundance of sunflower seeds I harvest with friends and family for them to grow at there house. When I go to harvest my seeds there is some problems I run into. For example, I didn\'t collect seeds in time, a lot of sunflowers and marigolds had worms in them. Seeds with worms are unfortunately no good because the worm eats the part that turns into a plant and the will eat and affect all the other seeds in the bag.

  I have many seeds gathered over the three years. I have bot flowers and vegetables, some just saved seeds, most organic and heirloom. Some flowers my collection consist of is brown eyed Susan\'s, morning glories, marigolds, sunflowers and more. The main vegetable I make sure I have, is green beans, I also started some new ones this year like saving sugar pumpkin seeds, cucumber, multiple types of squashes. I started off just getting my seeds from the store then I noticed that there is organic seeds that you can purchase also. I bought some sunflower seeds, because I love them so much. I also got some green bean seeds. I planted them that season, then my uncle gave me a great idea, why don\'t you save the seeds for next year. I was like okay that sounds fun and exciting and ever since then I\'ve been growing plants in my greenhouse to plant and harvest the seeds at the end of the season. I did it that one year and I was hooked. I thought growing the plants to harvest the seeds to do it all over again was the best thing. Now I have at least 14 different types I grow. It sometimes it\'s not that easy to replant them.

        This past season was very dry. I lost a lot of sunflowers from not getting enough water to worms getting in and eating the seeds. I also lost a lot of green beans this season because they were dry also. My best crop I had this season was my marigolds. I\'ve gotten the most marigold seeds I\'ve ever gotten in the past 3 seasons. I was surprised. This season was good overall except for starting late, having to buy a new greenhouse, and the drought. In the next season I hope to start earlier these I did last time. I also hope to expand my seeds and keep creating and producing new ones every year. I hope to still do this as I grow up and to have my own organic farm at some point. Next season I plant to grow my green beans, sunflowers, and marigolds. I hope to continue my morning glories and pumpkins. The next things I will grow in my greenhouse this next season will be butternut squash, crookneck squash, yellow squash, green peppers, cucumbers, watermelon and flint Indian corn, which I will not start in the greenhouse. At my house I also have organic grapes, blackberries. Black caps, raspberries, blueberries, and cherry plums.

    My expert source is Nan Hayden. She owns her own certified organic seed farm in Union, Ct. Nan sells her own seeds off her website, seedsforsecurity.com. She grows and saves the seeds all by herself. She has so many that she has a freezer saved for seeds. When she packages her seeds for sale she puts them in an airtight bag so nothing to get in them on there way to the customer. Nan also wrote her own practical seed saving guided and was kind enough to send me one. That seed saving guide helped me learn how to harvest and dry new seeds so I can expand my seed bank even more. The troubles she\'s runs into is the wild animals trying to get into her garden and ruin her crops. To fix that problem she has a really tall fence so they can\'t jump or climb to get in. One crop that she shared with me was her flint Indian corn. This corn comes in different colors and can be used for anything and everything such as grinding it to make your own corn meal. She had had this in her family for 15 years. She also shared with me some of her sugar pumpkins, butternut squash, crookneck squash, and Indian corn (See appendix figure 5&6). I am grateful to have the ability and patience to grow and harvest seeds. Although it doesn\'t take much talent, a lot of people don\'t do it.

In conclusion to this paper, I feel that organic seeds, plants, and foods should become cheaper. There would be a lot more healthy people in this world if fruits and vegetables that were not made with GMOs would be cheaper for them to purchase. I understand that not everyone is capable or has the time nor space to practice this but everyone should have at least one garden in their lifetime to taste the difference from home grown to store bought foods especially organic foods.

    

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