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Access to seeds will determine your social class in the future
A letter from the future
I am writing today's newsletter edition as a guest writer. My name is Fani, and I live in the Northern Colony Alliance in the year 2550 in a region known in your time as Sweden.
If you're having a moment because of my name, know that English is not the lingua franca of the 26th century. Additionally, you can go ahead and google how to pronounce Fani, a Swedish name, correctly.
Indeed, I know about Google and the Tech Moguls of your time. Guess what? They're growing seeds in 2550 and running a 'benevolent dictatorship' called The Cooperatives.
They took over after the Data War—in which they almost wiped out humanity by fighting against each other for supremacy—and vowed never to put the planet at risk again. Just like the US conservative and democrat parties did in 2150 after sinking the wealthiest country on Earth with their bickering and lust for power.
I might be a farmer, but I know stuff.
(For the record, the USA never recovers—except for the northern regions, which the Canadian Colonies Alliance will annex anyway.)
So now you're all recapped.
Before I continue: Mr. Schapiro, if you're reading this, your book 'Seeds Of Resistance: The Fight To Save Our Food Supply' is still around in 2550. It's one of the cult books. Thank you for fighting for us. We wish you—and all the good people you mention in the book—had succeeded in your efforts to safeguard the future of food on this planet. But there's something to be said about trying.
You have my gratitude <(_ _*)>.
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Seeds Of Resistance ✊
We're hungry and hot.
Some are hungrier and hotter than us, and some are fuller and cooler.
The geographic distribution defines the social classes.
But there is one social class above all: those with access to and control of seeds. In short, those who run The Cooperatives.
I was born in a position of privilege. My family has a small plot of fertile land that The Cooperatives didn't confiscate.
We are seed growers.
Officially, we grow seeds for The Cooperatives. Unofficially, we grow seeds of resistance.
Forty years ago, the Tech Moguls pledged to end the tech war and restore Earth's ecosystem. The first thing they did in Europe was to cross a line between the fertile and cooler northern regions and the hotter southern regions plagued by drought and advanced desertification. As a result, the Northern Colony Alliance or NCA was born.
The second thing they did was to create The Cooperatives, a collective that manages all the natural resources in the NCA. From fertile land to potted plants and the last seed of corn, The Cooperatives collected, analyzed, cataloged and stored away every resource that could potentially contribute to greening the planet again.
And, above all, restore our food.
Technology cannot sustain life on Earth without food. You probably never imagined a future with an abundance of tech but lacking in food. On our farm, we have equipment powerful enough to analyze every single plant growing on our plot of land, adjust its genetic makeup or crossbreed the most genetically suitable pair of plants to create a more robust variety of hybrids.
We can monitor for pests and weeds and track every single constituent of our small ecosystem down to the last insect. Everything is precious to us, every bug climbing a blade of grass, worm digging under the ground and microbe fertilizing the soil. Our robot birds scan every drop of rain, every ray of sunshine and every gram of CO2 our plants use for photosynthesis. Our robot insects examine every square centimeter of soil to ensure it stays healthy and alive.
The surveillance drones of The Cooperatives are buzzing day and night above our farm. We paid the privilege of keeping possession of our land with our freedom. The only areas in our farmhouse not surveilled are the bathrooms and the sleeping rooms.
We manage to squeeze two cropping seasons per year. At the beginning of each season, The Cooperatives bring us a new supply of seeds to grow, and at the end of each season, they come to collect the harvested seeds.
We don't get to keep anything.
Sometimes, we cultivate the same type of seeds for a few seasons. These are small production batches that are, in turn, farmed by The Cooperatives to make naturally grown food that they then sell at exorbitant prices. Sometimes we get a little cornflower or some beans from these fields, and I eat them with a mix of delight and guilt, knowing that every seed that goes down the throat is one less seed to cultivate. Although usually, we keep whatever freebies we get in seed form for planting in our private garden.
Most of the seeds we grow are for replenishing the seed stocks safeguarded by The Cooperatives with the hope that they can reintroduce them on a large scale into the environment once more land becomes fertile in the North.
Seeds, soil, water and sun, the natural ingredients needed to grow our food, are not available in the quantities required to feed Earth's remaining population.
On the 15th of November 2022, your year, the world reached eight billion people. Congratulations. Never have there been so many mouths to feed.
In the half millennium separating your time from mine, the world's population has been shrinking considerably. I'm not sure how many of us are roaming the Earth right now, but it can't be more than two billion.
And two billion are still too many hungry mouths to feed.
We have a small garden on our plot of land. It's only 3.2 meters wide, and 3.9 meters deep, but The Cooperatives allowed us to use it for growing food for our household. Of course, there's never enough food, but we have learned how to optimize it, and we're happy for every extra bean or potato we can harvest thanks to our creative farming tricks.
As citizens of the NCA, we also get a regular supply of seaweed and algae products. In years with a plentiful harvest, we might even get some produce from the skyscraper gardens of The Cooperatives used to grow food for the cities. We invariably analyze the gene sequencing done on these plants but end up eating everything. Food is food. And if we grow funny ears or get our brains washed because of genetically modified food, so be it.
Still, there is nothing like naturally grown food.
Unfortunately—or fortunately—The Cooperatives are right: we cannot use the little fertile land we have in the North only to grow food. We want to grow forests again and habitats for animals. We want to rebuild our ecosystem. But further up north, the soil will need hundreds, if not thousands, of years to become fertile. Also, we're lucky to live south enough to grow two yearly crops, but the long northern nights only allow for a second crop in a few areas.
I've always lived in the gated Colony of Seed Growers. The Cooperatives guard our lands against intruders at laser point, and even a hint of unusual activity will turn on the alarms.
However, we're not entirely isolated in our bubble of paradise. I have been outside of the gates on a few occasions. First, of course, we visited the headquarters of The Cooperatives in the area known as Siberia in your time, that blessed fertile land, and met the Tech Moguls, our benevolent dictators.
But visiting the city with my father is one of my most vivid childhood memories. My sister, Alaska, used to join him in the town regularly. But he only took me once as a child because I had a big mouth. I told a boy we were seed growers, and my father admonished me: 'Don't tell them what we do!' We were in a shop, and I remember the whole place going silent and people examining us with a mix of hunger, envy and hope in their eyes. 'It's not true,' my father said before we quickly exited the shop 'she's been spending too much in the VR studying.'
It's true. As a child, I spent most of my free time in VR, but not studying. Instead, I was curious about what other people did outside our gated colony. I wanted to know how they lived. So I watched a lot of live streaming with a morbid fascination—scrawny kids digging in the dirt for treasures from a lost world that they could sell for food scraps. I would watch them present their prizes and the rewards they collected in exchange. The joy on their face when they tasted the ordinary seaweed crackers was priceless. And even though I had access to better food, I was always hungry and envied their every bite. Sometimes I donated to them some of my family's food credits.
Then, one day, my father went on one of his city trips and never returned.
Officially, he died in a bar fight, and his body was stolen and probably sold on the black market. In any case, my father disappeared without a trace.
As a child, I didn't understand much, but when I grew up, I learned what my father actually did during those city trips. And I took over and continued his work despite the dangers lurking at every corner. So if I'm at risk of being discovered, there is a backup plan, and the family won't have to suffer or lose our prized plot of land.
I cannot tell you what I do. Nobody knows about our movement.
But I can tell you what other people hear and whisper to each other when there isn't a surveillance system within earshot, the urban legends and stories full of hope for a better future.
Some seeds may fall through the cracks into inofficial seed banks or be distributed via the Dust Road outside of the NCA and grown by people who otherwise have no access to food.
During the harvest season, some seeds may fall to the ground inadvertently and grow in the next season. We may twitch our monitoring systems to mask their existence and keep the precious seeds for ourselves. More farmers may do this. There might be a whole network of underground seed trading.
Because restoring food and our ecosystem is not the work of a few, it is the work of many, and we all are able and willing to contribute up to our capacity. We will not let the future of our food be in the hands of a single class of people. The seeds belong to us, the people, and they are the future of our planet.
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