‘Open-Pollinated’ refers to the fertilisation (and breeding) of plants by wind, insects and birds etc. – i.e., pollination by nature, not in a laboratory that relies on controlled hybridisation or even genetic modification technology. Open-pollination allows for a rich genetic diversity to be maintained, allowing crop varieties to adapt to specific locations (becoming ‘landrace’ varieties) or to different climates – and importantly, this genetic diversity and natural selection allow crops to adapt to changing climates. It’s this genetic diversity that in effect builds resilience into crop varieties on a small scale, and into the food supply of the planet at a larger scale. Two good places to begin looking at open-pollination are the UK’s Heritage Seed Library and Open-Pollinated Seeds.
Open-pollination is key to seed-saving, seed-swapping and vegetable-breeding. In a nutshell (!), if you collect seeds from an open-pollinated crop (e.g., climbing beans), you will be able to grow a very similar crop from those seeds the following year – which you won’t be able to do from an F1 hybrid crop. Of course, there are always caveats: some crops are more ‘promiscuous’ than others, meaning that you have to be careful about how close you are growing a crop that you want to save next year’s seed from to other varieties of the same crop – it’s the readiness to ‘cross’ or breed that has led to the development of a huge wealth of varieties of crop around the world. It’s Open-Pollination that has put the OP in LOOPY Food! That doesn’t mean the food found through the directory is all from open-pollinated crops, but the open-pollination (and anti GM) issues is important enough to be promoted here – and organic/Biodynamic producers are increasingly providing information to customers about the varieties of produce that they are growing/supplying.
An Open-Pollinated Website!
In a sense, Open-Pollination is what this website is all about: providing a place where ideas and information from people and organizations with diverse backgrounds can be shared, allowing for rich, random, and ultimately creative cross-fertilisation and the germination of new ideas, projects, relationships and enterprises.
For instance, someone coming to LoopyFood.net after hearing that it is the best place to search for an organic Bed & Breakfast where they can spend a weekend away will be drawn in to considering what LoopyFood actually means – they might learn about the difference between hybrid and open-pollinated vegetables, they might be tempted to look at the forums and then discover the world of Permaculture. Similarly, someone coming to the site because an internet search linked to a forum about vegetarian food might be tempted to look at the events map and discover that there is soon to be a Food Festival not far from them – they might join the Vegetarian & Vegan food group – and then they might stumble upon the Raw Food forum and group and start thinking about that. Both people in this example might decide to put listings on the LoopyFriends map, and, discovering that they are near neighbours, strike up a friendship. Eventually they may meet a third person on the Food Startups map and form a food-related business. All because of the open-pollination of LoopyFood.net!