Latest Posts

Hedy Reviews “Seeds of Hope”

By Library Staff

“Seeds of Hope” is almost like a memoir as the author talks about her relationship with plants and trees throughout her life in a very personal, personable way.  Photographs (both black & white and color) are used throughout the book to good effect.  Goodall is most known for her work with chimpanzees, but she has always had a special relationship with trees.  She’d spent many hours in a beech tree growing up in England reading about Africa and doing her homework.

Certainly, habitat is being lost not just for wild animals, but also for wild plants.  Such habitat is being replaced by monoculture plantations requiring lots of chemicals to keep them going.  Yet journalist Barry Estabrook in an article in Atlantic Monthly “concluded that shifting our agriculture model to small-scale, sustainable farming is the only way we can successfully feed the world in the future.”  He “pointed out that the British Soil Association conducted an exhaustive review of all the scientific literature–ninety-eight papers–published between 1999 and 2007 that addressed the question of whether or not organic agriculture could feed the world. And every one of these papers concluded that organic farming has the potential to feed the world’s population.”  What organic farming probably can’t do is related to what Gandhi said once: “Nature can supply human need, but not human greed.”  As an aside, for anyone interested in this subject, please come to a program on Iowa-born-and-raised Norman Borlaug on Monday, October 12, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. at the Library. Borlaug is famous for spurring on the Green Revolution which has indeed fed a lot of people and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.  Tom Spindler from the Borlaug Heritage Foundation in Cresco, Iowa, will be talking about Borlaug’s life and times.

The reader of “Seeds of Hope”  learns about The Millennium Seed Bank and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.  Goodall even mentions Iowa’s Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah.  She brings up so many interesting places that I’d now like to visit–like Kew Gardens just outside London or Bartram’s Botanical Gardens in Philadelphia or the 1000 acre restored prairie at Fermilab in Illinois.  She brings up a lot of fascinating history like Josephine Napoleon’s relationship with dahlias and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Coffee Cantata” which was first performed in Zimmerman’s Coffee House in Leipzig around 1732.  She brings up politics when she discusses laws requiring labeling for genetically modified foods and ponders misguided governmental goals like never-ending economic growth.

Goodall ends on a hopeful note as she describes some survivor trees (a Gingko biloba after the bombing in Hiroshima, a camphor tree after the bombing in Nagasaki, and a Callery pear tree in New York City after 9/11).  They are still glorious and thriving.  So she comes full circle with the trees of her early childhood and the trees of her late adulthood. “Seeds of Hope” is a book full of information, contemplation, and some of the essence of the extraordinary Jane Goodall.

580 GO (also CDBOOK, PLAYAWAY)  by Jane Goodall with Gail Hudson; Foreword by Michael Pollan.  “Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants”, 2014, 420 pages