The Doomsday Vault

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As the author of Seed To Salad, obviously I must share an article I read recently about a seed vault in Norway. The vault holds seeds from around the world for safe keeping, should there ever be a need.  (Article is below.)

I didn’t even know this existed until recently.  I am comforted by the fact that it does exist and that they have made preparations in case of disaster.  I love the fact that they are trying to collect as many different samples as possible and not just focused on mass quantities.

Other than being an interesting read, something in the article caught my eye.

Commercial farming has reduced the overall crop diversity in the world, so specific diseases could potentially wipe out a large chunk of production. In that instance, the Doomsday Vault holds seeds to older strains that could be reintroduced, or that might be more resistant to pests, disease and drought.

Commercial farming methods trouble me more than losing seed to war, shortages or disaster. Mainly because I believe this outcome is the most likely of the bunch.

If you are going to the grocery store to pick up some tomatoes for example.  You have one, maybe two choices.  What if something happens to the variety they grow?  The commercial farmers are concentrating on one type of tomato.  Ones that “look good” on store shelves, which makes production susceptible to problems.

Don’t they say you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket?

So, I have a couple thoughts on seeds.

Support Heirloom Seeds and the places that provide them.  

One of the great things about Heirloom Seeds is the many different choices, and how different each of them are.  One type of eggplant for example might react, grow and resist disease totally different than another type of eggplant.  

Pure seeds are a good thing.  

Lots of choices are a good thing.      

That is also what makes them so fun to grow.     

Start your own Doomsday Vault.  

I am pretty sure most of us to not have the facility or capabilities to store our seeds for 20,000 years.  But, we can have a 5 year vault at home.  Most seeds will last that long, give or take a few years based on what you have.  

So, what I would suggest you do is order your seeds, more than you want to use this year.  (A seed packet is only a couple bucks).  Select a wide range and multiple varieties and then store them in a dark, cool dry place in your home.  Then the following year when it is time to plant your seeds select from your “stockpile” and whatever you remove and use, replenish. That way you will always have a seed collection of your very own.

Or you can save the seeds from what you grow this year for next.  It is not hard to do, and will keep you from having to purchase seeds in the future.   

Now when disaster strikes you won’t be waiting on “The Doomsday Vault” to save you.  

You can do it yourself.      

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~THE ARTICLE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jutting out of snow and ice in a forbidding part of Norway like the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the imposing Doomsday Vault literally holds the seeds to the world’s future in the event of global disaster.

Opened in February 2008, the vault houses more than 740,000 different seed samples from around the world, including a recent shipment of 25,000 seeds that originate everywhere from violence-ravaged Syria to the mountains of Tajikistan to the amaranth used in the Ecuadorian “Day of the Dead’’ celebration.

Formerly known as the Svaldbard Global Seed Vault, the Doomsday Vault it serves as the master backup to the world’s other seed vaults. Its stores stand ready to start replenishing the world’s food supply in the event of natural disaster, water shortages, global warming or war.

The vault is dug into the side of Plataberget mountain, near the village of Longyearbyen on a group of islands north of mainland Norway. It is even guarded by a natural security force, because polar bears roam the icy landscape around the facility. It is illegal to leave the local town without bringing a gun along.

Michelle Kosinski of NBC News was given a tour of the remote facility by Cary Fowler, executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, who conducted her through the long, icy tunnel leading to the coldest part of the mountain. Drilled straight through 400 feet of permafrost and rock past sets of frozen doors, it warehouses seemingly endless rows of seeds preserved at minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are more than 100 thousand different types of rice alone in storage. The biggest contributor to the bank is the United States, which is sending 12,801 samples this year.

“This is what is going to allow agriculture to remain productive,’’ Fowler said. “To create food security, to adapt to climate change and water shortages, and everything we might want agriculture to be in the future.’’

The unmanned facility holds seeds that will still be viable 20,000 years from now. Commercial farming has reduced the overall crop diversity in the world, so specific diseases could potentially wipe out a large chunk of production. In that instance, the Doomsday Vault holds seeds to older strains that could be reintroduced, or that might be more resistant to pests, disease and drought.

The Doomsday Vault also stands steadfast to protect against other situations: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the looting during Egyptian unrest that destroyed several types of seeds, and the January fire that engulfed several varieties at the National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory in the Philippines. The vault can hold 2.25 billion seeds and the natural arctic temperatures keep them preserved.

via Doomsday Vault holds seeds that could save the world – TODAY People – TODAY.com.

Anyone have a seed collection?  

26 thoughts on “The Doomsday Vault

  1. I DO have a seed collection, though it’s not organized very well. I need to be a little more careful about where I store them in the future, but yeah– I have a variety from which I can pull out seeds and plant. It’s not difficult to over-buy when you only plant about 150 sq feet of garden per season.

  2. Wow. What a great idea. I cannot tell you what a wave of relief washed over me knowing someone somewhere is thinking ahead. Now I’m going to get my own seed vault going! Whoohoo!

  3. This is fascinating, but, like many of you probably experienced, a few questions came to my mind:
    1) If we’re in the midst of post-apocalyptic chaos, or a third world war, or alien invasion, of devastating flu pandemic, how exactly are these seeds going to be redistributed…from Norway? That takes a LOT of jet fuel/boat energy/human rowing power to get up there, and then back to your respective country.
    2) Why is it unmanned? If there’s a world crisis, that thing is getting stormed by hungry, scared, panic-stricken people who want to feed themselves, their families, and then hoard the rest. (After they row boat their way to Norway, that is.)
    3) And this passage catches my eye: “Its stores stand ready to start replenishing the world’s food supply in the event of natural disaster, water shortages, global warming or war.” Well, if we’re having a water shortage, I’m not sure seeds are going to do much good…
    Just some thoughts to discuss…discuss! :)
    Thanks again for posting – this really truly is a fascinating idea.

    • What? You don’t think you will get your first class shipment of seeds from Norway. I am sure we will be their top priority. Ok, maybe not. I guess another reason to collect our own seeds.

      Thanks for the great comment. Very thought provoking.

      • Hahaha! :) Cute. Thanks for encouraging us to be self-sufficient and collect our own seeds. On that note, can you further comment – for the new gardeners like myself – exactly how long seeds keep? My seed packets say that they’re “packed for 2012″ or something like that; do they have an expiration date for real?

      • I really can’t answer that exactly because all seeds have different shelf life. Most will at least keep for a couple years, but some will be good for many years. To be on the safe side I would use and replenish your seeds every couple years. As time goes by the germination rate will go down. It is probably best not to store the seeds for more than a couple years, and some like leek, spinach and corn should be used the very next season.

  4. People need to be buying seed up before Monsanto completely takes over the food supply. Monsanto produces food crops and seeds that are sterile, forcing people to have to renew their supplies year after year. I find that rather alarming.

  5. Great post! Really interesting. The base looks kind of like a half frozen pc tower. It would be interesting to see how people would get on if a huge crisis did happen.

    Most people would not think of turning to farming until it’s too late, and the ones that did will get stolen from. Depending on the type of apocalypse of course!

  6. Wonderful article! My father’s family is from Norway and we were very excited to hear about the seed vault. Its an excellent idea and Norwegians are often on the cutting edge when it comes to environmental issues.

  7. Oh Yes!!! I just saw this on TV not to long ago.
    I had no idea!! And it is in north of Norway. I was and am so amazed. Of course it makes sense, but it also makes me feel a little “2012ish” . But I am very happy about the fact that we are saving good seeds for the potential need if the world and our crops changes. Thank god for some smart active forward thinking nature loving people!
    Gisela

  8. Seed vault storage is a long standing premise for preparedness folks. (thekeepbuilder.com). This post is right on point! Great information to get everyone motivated!

  9. Great post! Do you have any recommendations for good places online to order heirloom seeds by mail? I buy my seeds from several different places, but only a couple of the scores of seed packets that I have are heirloom.

  10. Pingback: 2012 Updates: Doomsday Survival in Malaysia | BJ Thoughts…

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