Remembering Percy Schmeiser

Recent history has put enormous pressure on the diversity of the global seed supply and strained our right to save our own seeds and to share and pass them down to future generations. In light of massive agrochemical companies merging to monopolize the market, and widespread initiatives to globalize and control the world’s seed supply, the fight to protect seed security and diversity can feel overwhelming at times. 

Perhaps in these trying times we can look to Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer who took Monsanto all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court over the right to save seeds. Percy fought a true David-and-Goliath battle against the agrochemical giant. While he did not win his case, he did manage to inspire folks across the globe by demonstrating that people have a right to stand up for what the future of our food supply will look like, and showing that farmers and consumers deserve a seat at the table. 

Christopher Walken portrays Schmeiser in the film “Percy.” (Photo courtesy of Mongrel Media)

Percy passed away in late 2020, at age 89, but his legacy will be forever remembered. Schmesier managed to take a monolith like Monsanto all the way to the Supreme Court in a high-profile and incredibly stressful court case, all the while maintaining a cheerful and humble disposition. For those curious to know more about this case, the 2020 movie “Percy” starring Christopher Walken, depicts Percy’s lawsuit with Monsanto. Although Walken’s depiction is a bit more gruff than Schmeiser was in real life, it does provide a glimpse into his story. Schmeiser spoke about his case at several Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. events, including the National Heirloom Expo. All who met him were touched by his down-to-earth nature. Percy led his legal crusade from a place of true humility and genuine conviction.

We endeavor to emulate Schmeiser’s work for the right to save seeds and to fight the rising tide of controlled and monopolized seeds. Whether you support the scientific process of genetic modification or not, we believe that seeds inherently belong to the people. In the pursuit of personal liberty as well as sustainability, seeds should not be patented. Seeds should always be free for sharing and saving. We believe that seed preservation is best accomplished through proliferation. We also believe that allowing a select few to control the future of our plant diversity — and thus our food supply — is an ill-fated and alarming prospect.

We have the utmost respect for all farming, gardening, and gathering cultures across the globe and for the security of their heirloom seeds. We are in awe of the astounding diversity of seed varieties and of various cultivation practices. We consider any seed-controlled, one-size-fits-all monoculture model as an affront to thousands of years of innovation and seed stewardship. Heirloom and open-pollinated seeds represent so much individuality and hard work. In our opinion, it is imperative to fight to protect these seeds against gross profiteering.

We want to challenge you to not only grow your own food, but also support the GMO-free food chain, especially local sources and farmers who keep good food alive. Why support the brands that are destroying our genetic diversity and controlling the world’s food supply? Instead — grow, preserve, trade and shop with ethical suppliers and food producers whose families are making a difference in the world. Save your seeds and keep planting!  We thank you all for supporting our dream and mission, and we wish you an amazing gardening year!