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The Mystery of the Seed

By Matthew Kitchen, Phase I Fellow

If you can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me. -- William Shakespeare

I like seeds.

Their humility, their desire to go on long journeys to new places, their vivacious aspiration to grow, and their tenacity to survive--all make me think of seeds in a special way: as unadorned tiny gems.

So much of farming, as well as life, is about preparing for what is to come so that the future might be more abundant. Like me, seeds thoroughly enjoy and thrive with this preparation.

The process of collecting and saving seeds energizes me. Amidst the preparation, I can’t help but picture future generations to come. For me, these potentialities create excitement.

Asparagus seeds

I also connect with the fact that, so often, the potential seeds offer is overlooked. Though they might be small, they are a large part of our future. If we see our children as the next generation of leaders, innovators, community members, and caretakers, then seeds are the future food that allows them life.

I like how Jesus of Nazareth puts it:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches’” (Matthew 13:31-32)

I think this is the precursor to both literally and metaphorically changing this world. In the unassuming act of bending low to plant a seed and the similarly meek action of providing for the seed’s safe haven over harsh winters, we create the opportunity for the seed to show its full potential again. The ability of a seed to so tangibly engage with the future instills a little of this power in me.

Seeds are like slow fireworks of life, bursting forth with such vibrancy and diversity. Though similar, once planted they are never exactly the same again. I hope that the more I learn in this area, the better I’ll be able to predict what colors, what characteristics, of each plant will come to be. As William Shakespeare said, “If you can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me.”

A farmer cannot grow crops without seeds, just as a person cannot live without food. Saving seeds is just one part of this life cycle, but it’s one that, for many reasons, known and mysterious, continues to excite me.

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