Seeds burst with life. Wondrous, seemingly miraculous, in a seed, as tiny as a fleck or grain, is an embryo of a flowering plant, a food, a tree. Those seeds can grow into Nature’s vastness as diverse as milkweed, cilantro and California Redwood. Because widespread plant species—including “12,000 year-old food legacy”—propagate with seeds, their wonder and existential significance cannot be taken for granted. The wellbeing of human and natural communities depends on the cycle of life, vivid in the garden with seeds sown, plants grown, flowers blossoming then going to seed.

That is why so many Santa Monica Community Gardeners collect the seeds from their harvest.

That is why the Seed Library of Los Angeles exists, and the Santa Monica Library is establishing a seed library. Those commitments are essential. As the new documentary SEED: The Untold Story relates, “In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared.”

There is much to learn about the priceless value of seeds. Anyone who eats or gardens would relish knowing how to protect our food resources. SEED: The Untold Story, according to the media release, reveals a stark and marvelous confrontation, “As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds.”

Opening on Friday, Sept. 30, at Laemmle Monica Film Center, SEED will be showing for a week with the filmmakers speaking on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1. Viewing SEED can help extend what good community gardening means, which involves sharing lessons and important stories—as well as seeds, particularly those from our organic, non-GMO community gardens.

Sitting in the shade of a passion fruit vine, for a couple of tranquil hours last weekend I gathered cilantro seeds, gently rolling them between my fingers to separate them from the dried flowers. I wrapped the round seeds in paper to carry home. Having seasoned our guacamole, salads, and soups, the cilantro would be planted again to flavor our future meals. Well, almost. For a mother and her adult daughter visited the Main Street Gardens and regaled my partner and me with their container gardening efforts. In return, we offered them the packet of our cilantro seeds to plant in their little garden on a window sill or on their porch.

Small gifts from human being to human being, seed to seed, can burst forth with so much life.

By Cris Gutierrez

Cris Gutierrez is a Main Street Gardener and part of the Santa Monica Community Gardens Advisory Committee.