Gardening Meets Geekdom: The Open Source Seed Pledge

Gardening and technology couldn't, perhaps, seem more different, but don't you believe it: a new initiative out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus will soon see your veg patch become an open source project.

The Open Source Seed Initiative has been designed to make a new range of seeds—including broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains—free for all of of us to grow, breed and share for perpetuity. In other words, the geeks of gardening are democratizing vegetable growing, protecting plants from patents and other restrictions in the coming decades.

In total there are 29 new seeds that it will be impossible to claim intellectual property protection over—something that can't be said of the increasing number of custom-bred seeds that pepper the US. UW-Madison horticulture professor and plant breeder Irwin Goldman explains:

"These vegetables are part of our common cultural heritage, and our goal is to make sure these seeds remain in the public domain for people to use in the future... [T]hese seeds are free to use in any way you want. They can't be legally protected. Enjoy them."

Upon opening a packet of the open source seeds, a person ""signals their commitment to keep those seeds—and any future plant derivatives bred using them—in the public domain."

You can find out more on the Open Source Seed Initiative website. It's a mindset that anyone familiar with Linux will undoubtedly find irresistible—with any luck, much like the produce the seeds yield. [Open Source Seed Initiative via University of Wisconsin-Madison]