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Our View: Seed, plant exchanges share much wisdom

As we stuff our Opinion section with commentaries of the day – our own editorial pages inside news pages crowded with noteworthy stories – the particulars about seed exchanges are often sidelined as community briefs.

Yet, recent local seed exchanges held serious information.

The wisdom within seeds surpasses what we think we know about the world – and our place in it. As the Southwest adapts to drought, changes in landscapes and developments, and other factors that affect how plants grow, news about seed exchanges will become more weighty.

From Bayfield to Cortez, seed varieties for tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, sugar snap peas, blue corn and more have passed hands at a grange hall, fairgrounds, and among farmers, gardeners and would-be-gardeners not knowing the potential they’re holding in the palms of their hands. Heritage, open-pollinated and hybrids that bring elements of surprise as they don’t always grow true to what’s expected.

Walk into seed exchanges to find instant community. Growers love to talk about what grew well, what didn’t, what surprised them. It’s a throwback in time to when more of us knew our neighbors and chatted about what was coming up in our yards, our pots, our alleys, and those green mysteries pulling upward between cracks in concrete toward the light.

Can’t keep a strong plant down – those weeds we love to hate come to mind.

Southwest seed exchanges hold a generous quality, too. Walk in with nothing, leave with something. No bags? No problem. Organizers and seed-lovers have bags for dividing and transporting seeds home.

There’s a commonality at these exchanges. A shared recognition about the good that comes from digging hands into soil, an ideal evolutionary counter to tapping out words onto a keyboard. Dirt can do much for one’s mood and mental health.

Same goes for plant exchanges. Vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit trees, bulbs, houseplants. Gardeners there want you to walk out holding something green.

Science increasingly provides interpretations of data and findings on how plants signal other plants; indicate healing properties to animals so they can mix plants’ parts with saliva to poultice wounds; outsmart wildlife into not eating them; and hold memories in their green stems and leaves, buds and blossoms.

Believe it or don’t. Chances are, people at plant exchanges are open to this kind of wonder. If this seems too woo-woo for your taste, the exchange people will still give you some seeds and plants. They’re a nice bunch.

Actually, they’re more than nice. Organizers are veritable stewards who keep the realm of biodiversity vibrant, and our gardens thriving and beautiful.

They understand the importance of local, homegrown seed banks. And would like you to also share and contribute.

The intelligence within Southwest seeds and plants model how to adapt to survive. If only we could be this smart. We sure could learn a few things from them.