Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

The lima beans of my grandmother

by Inés Mora, Costa Rica

This is the story of lima bean seeds that have been in our family for a long time. My grandmother tells us that a relative gave her the seed with the condition that she reproduce and preserve the seed. Sometimes she had only a few of these lima beans and potatoes to eat, and it was enough. She says: “If you don’t plant, you don’t harvest, but if you plant, you preserve your seeds,” and I believe in this. Throughout time we have lost many seeds that were common in our villages.

Farmers used to harvest and save their seeds, but now it is different. It is easier to go to the grocery store and buy canned food than to plant something. People ask me why I like saving seeds, and I explain: I prepare the soil, make a hole, place the seed in it, and cover it up. Then I wait patiently for the seed to germinate, asking my God to give me a hand. Finally the first little plants emerge form the soil. This is the moment to give them a little organic fertilizer, and they climb with the help of a post, and begin to flower. It is very moving to see the various pollinators arrive, such as bees, carpenter bees, ladybugs, butterflies, hummingbirds, and orchid bees.

When the pods begin to fill with lima beans and beans, then I know the moment of harvesting them for my family is near. We know we will eat delicious and healthy food. There is no greater emotion than to see a pod full of eight or ten beans of an intense red color when you are about to harvest them, or when you select the best pods for saving seeds. These will be the ones that were healthy since the day they were planted, strong, with many pods, and many beans in each pod. And you know that you will have good seed for the next year.

Through seeds, I have gotten to know many people, places, and seeds of various varieties, colors and sizes. Seeds are a genuine treasure through which to share knowledge, experience, learning, communication, solidarity, friendship, and unity. These are the things that I have learned through seed exchanges.

My seeds, your seeds, and those of everyone, are a treasure for a whole life long.

The lima beans of my grandmotherThe lima beans of my grandmotherThe lima beans of my grandmotherThe lima beans of my grandmother

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