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SEEDS OF CHANGE HELPS BACKYARD GARDENERS PRESERVE DIVERSITY ACROSS AMERICA

 SANTA FE, N.M., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- "We bought some of your seeds and were very pleased with their quality," wrote and enthusiastic customer of Seeds of Change. "We were especially pleased with the True Gold Sweet Corn, which had almost a 100 percent germination rate, with strong stalks, deep green leaves, and was noticeably more vigorous than the hybrid variety planted two weeks earlier. Unfortunately, our neighbor's pair of Percheron workhorses wandered over to our land one early morning and devoured the half-grown True Gold corn plants down to the ground -- and -- showing uncommonly good "horse sense" -- they bypassed the hybrid corn patch completely, and the rest of the garden!" It's hard to find more unbiased reviewers, the ultimate testimonial to the flavor of organic, heirloom vegetables.
 "These heirloom seeds are generally the best varieties of garden seeds collected and passed on by generations" says Seeds of Change founder Kenny Ausubel. "But many of them haven't been available since grandma grew them 90 years ago. Only three percent of the foods available to our grandparents are still around today. We created Seeds of Change to conserve these important seeds, but also to spread them back into the hands of backyard gardeners, who love to tend diversity in their gardens. Most people who taste these never go back to the tasteless modern hybrids, which were created for industrial traits such as uniform ripening or toughness of skin for shipping.
 Vice President Al Gore, in his best-selling book "Earth In The Balance," names the preservation of biodiversity as the single most important environmental issue. Extinctions today are running at 1,000 times the natural rate, and the introduction of hybrid seeds is the main cause of the disappearance of the old, time-tested varieties. These hybrids are favored by large companies because they can be patented and owned, and because they do not reproduce true to form, compelling gardeners and farmers into a cycle of dependency. Vice President Gore will appear in "The Seed Savers," a PBS documentary on the seed-saving movement which will prominently feature Seeds of Change.
 The 1993 Seeds of Change catalog offers an astonishing 530 kinds of seeds, including many rare heirloom and traditional native kinds, as well as a unique selection of flowers and medicinal and culinary herbs. Highlights of this year's offering include 65 types of tomatoes, the first open-pollinated platinum sweet corn and the hottest chili peppers just back from South America. The unusual catalog, filled with articles, recipes, poetry and stunning photography and illustrations, was chosen in 1992 by Metropolitan Home Magazine as one of the top five mail-order catalogs nationally, and was also named a favorite by the New York Times.
 The attractive catalog has now spawned a major book from Harper Collins, "Seeds of Change: The Living Treasure," a personal journey into the heart of diversity and the magic of the earth, an indispensable course book for re-enchantment of the 90's. With the publication of Seeds of Change, Harper is extending its well-known "Tree-Clause" to plant two trees in California and the United States for every tree used in the manufacture of the book. The clause follows on a similar arrangement with Mickey Hart, drummer of the Grateful Dead, who pioneered the practice in the Costa Rican rain forest.
 The innovative seed company's success has been explosive in the retail area too. "Retail distribution in 1992 leaped from about 50 stores to over 500, and sales climbed over 500 percent in general," notes Seeds of Change President Nina Simons. "Consumer response has been terrific," she notes, "customers hover around the seed racks swapping gardening tips."
 Seeds of Change has the only organic seeds in national commerce. There was a glaring gap in the organic cycle," Kenny Ausubel observes. "Most organic food today is grown from seeds that have been raised with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and often then coated with fungicides. Gardeners are very passionate about the organic issue, and the seed is the starting point of the whole cycle. How can you have organic food without organic seeds? The company calls them "the first link in a safe food chain."
 The National Academy of Sciences, in its 1989 landmark report "Alternative Agriculture," called for a national policy shift to organic farming to preserve topsoil, which is being lost at the rate on an area the size of Connecticut each year, and to reverse the pollution of soil and water.
 All of the seeds are open-pollinated, meaning gardeners can save them, in contrast to the hybrids. "These seeds are the greatest hits of the gene pool, the reliable," Ausubel says, "the time-tested standards on which countless generations of human survivors have depended, the best nature has to offer." Many are drought-tolerant, and adaptable to most regions of the country as well as unpredictable climatic changes.
 Seeds of Change is "calling on backyard gardeners, who love interesting an unusual plants, to help reintroduce a biological diversity of seeds back into the food chain," says Research Director Alan Kapuler, Ph.D., who selects varieties for their nutritional value as well as for flavor, productivity and uniqueness. "We're not hearing any nay-sayers' out there except for horses," concludes Ausubel.
 The cost of the catalog is $3, refundable with first order. Call, 595-983-8956 or write Seeds of Change, 621 Old Santa Fe Trail No. 10. Santa Fe, N.M. 87501.
 -0- 3/2/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Interviews, photos, press kits available./
 /CONTACT: Nina Simons, president, or Liz Rymland, PR director of Seeds of Change, 505-983-8956/


CO: Seeds of Change ST: New Mexico IN: SU:

SM -- NYGFNS4 -- 1727 03/02/93 07:04 EST
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Date:Mar 2, 1993
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