Kickstarter Pick: ‘Seed’

An Indian Farmer holds a handful of freshly threshed basmati rice seed. (Photo courtesy of Collective Eye Films)

Who: Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel, co-directors/producers

What: “SEED: The Untold Story,” a documentary about the shrinking biodiversity of vegetables and fruits we eat

Goal: $50,000

So far: Successfully raised $77,000

The story:

A new movie from two Portland filmmakers is all about the fight to save seeds.

Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel, directors and producers of “SEED: The Untold Story,” raised enough Kickstarter money in January to shoot the rest of their film. Only a third of the way there, the duo will spend this year traveling to Mexico, Turkey, India, Ethiopia and the southwestern part of the United States to chronicle how the world is losing its colorful variety of seeds. It will be the last in a trilogy of environmentally-conscious movies from Collective Eye Films, right after “Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?” and “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.”

SEED: The Untold Story is currently in production by Collective Eye Films, a non-profit film production company based in Portland. The film is set to be released in early 2014. (Photo courtesy of Collective Eye Films)

“The freedom to have and save seeds, fighting that fight… We found that to be a really dramatic and compelling story,” Betz said. Others are helping to spread that story, such as organic seed companies, the Organic Consumers Association and Mother Earth News, along with the added exposure of a Facebook page and a successful Kickstarter campaign.

They’ll be following the people who are trying to preserve the diversity of seeds, to protect them from going extinct or locked away by corporations, Betz said. All around the world, seed banks and “seed-savers” hunt for unique species of vegetables and fruits. Others mail rare kinds of seeds in envelopes to each other, creating whole communities of seed exchanges.

Betz hopes to show how these small groups of people are up against an agriculture industry that churns out monocultures of crops.
“How is it that this industrial method of agriculture is so prized, and who is it prized by and why,” Betz said. “It seems like it’s really about profit. Organic agriculture can feed the world just as easily as small, sustainable farms can feed the world.”

Betz and Siegel are on ambitious track to release “SEED” by early 2014, so they can distribute the film to school classrooms and community screenings and educate others about biodiversity.

“With ‘SEED,’ it’s really about ownership,” Betz said. “Seeds are not to be owned. They are to be worked with.”

This is part of a series of profiles about socially-conscious Kickstarter campaigns. Coming up:

Monday: Kenya Stove, making stoves safer and more energy-efficient in Kenya

Tuesday: Aging Out, a story of a photographer’s search for his birth mother

Written by: Dominique Fong


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