The Heirloom Expo, an annual event, unfolded at the Ventura Fairgrounds from September 12th to 14th, 2023, offering not only an educational experience but a vital necessity for humanity in these times. This event, made possible by the generous support of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Rare Seeds, holds a profound mission – to provide seeds for a sustainable food supply for all, while keeping heirloom varieties alive for future generations. The driving belief behind this mission is that farmers, gardeners, and communities should have the right to save their own seeds, preserving seed diversity and food security in an era dominated by corporate agriculture, patented, hybridized, or genetically modified seeds. All the seeds offered by Baker Creek can be saved, shared, and traded, and the message resounds with an encouragement for individuals to save their own seeds.

Heirloom seeds, a testament to the past, are seeds from plants that have been passed down from one generation to another. These open-pollinated seeds have a history of at least 50 years. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds proudly stands as America’s leading source for these precious seeds, gathering and cultivating seeds from across the world. Their 2024 seed catalog, featuring over 1,000 heirloom varieties, takes you on a journey through time as you explore the stunning diversity of these seeds.

The spirit of charitable giving is deeply rooted in Baker Creek’s foundation. Their generosity extends not only to the WorldBeat Center but to various other organizations that share their vision. Thanks to their support, the WorldBeat Center has taken the initiative to start its own seed library. The dedication of Jere and the Baker Creek team has been instrumental in fostering this endeavor. The library welcomes heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, but it takes a firm stance against GMO seeds, where “GMO” stands for genetically modified organisms that have undergone genetic engineering technology.

Vandana Shiva, often referred to as the “Gandhi of grain” and the “rock star” of the anti-GMO movement, is an ecological champion who has devoted more than 40 years to advocating for food rights and confronting big agriculture. She passionately asserts that we can alleviate world hunger and safeguard the planet while preserving the unique cultural and culinary traditions that make our world beautifully diverse. Vandana Shiva has graced the Heirloom Expo with her wisdom on numerous occasions, and her impact is undeniable. Her dedication to the Earth and indigenous communities traces back nearly five decades to the Chipko movement. With the world facing ecological collapse due to centuries of colonialism and fossil fuel-based industrialism, Vandana Shiva’s advocacy for protecting the Earth and indigenous cultures is more vital than ever. Indigenous people, who have lived in harmony with nature and respected the Earth and her limits, offer invaluable lessons for survival in a period of extinction.

The event also featured speakers known as “keepers of ancestral seeds.” Furthermore, a three-day seed swap provided a platform for growers to exchange their precious heirloom varieties. The pictures from the event tell a colorful story of an incredible variety of summer and fall crops, including watermelons, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and pumpkins, to name just a few.

The Heirloom Expo conveyed a powerful message – the need to grow our food and nurture pure soil free from pesticides, over-tilling, and monocropping. Embracing the ways of our ancestors is essential for our collective survival. If we had heeded the wisdom of indigenous people, our rivers would not be polluted, the air would remain clean, and the land would be teeming with nutrients. The imperative to wake up and save the Earth is more profound than ever, for the sake of humanity and the planet we call home.