Shakambhari Devi is the Goddess of nourishment. She is often depicted bearing an abundance and diverse variety of fruits and vegetables. She is worshiped by the sacred offering of Shakambhari Alankaran in which her image is decorated with garlands of various fruits and vegetables. Though particular garlands of fruits are offered for specific deities, like garlands of limes for Goddess Durga, this offering of multiple varieties of fruits and vegetables is unique to Goddess Shakambhari. Our mission to promote the grace of Goddess Shakambhari has lead us to work to help preserve the important varieties of historic fruits before they are lost forever.
Saving Heirloom Fruit and Vegetables
Modern agricultural practices of factory farming, GMO's, and patented varieties are threatening the existence of the important heirloom varieties. In North America in the recent past, there were over 17,000 varieties of apples growing. Of these, an estimated 4,000 remain. Of these, only around 100 are commercially grown. And only around 14 major varieties are commonly found in supermarkets throughout the United States. The situation is getting worse with the introduction of patented apples like the Opal apple and Genetically modified apples like the Arctic apples which require specific rights to grow. Variety is becoming less and quality is diminishing. Each of the popular modern varieties has its undoubted assets for growers and sellers, but they lack the flavor, the intrigue and the variation of the historic apples. One major concern with the focus of the market on a relatively few varieties is that disease and pest pressure can lead to complete failure of a few varieties which leads to crop failure and famine. Working to preserve biodiversity is a wise investment in our sources of nourishment. As pests migrate and adapt to become more successful and new diseases arise threatening the survival of certain fruits and vegetables, our greatest defense is variety.
Certain cultivars are resistant to specific pests and diseases, and their existence not only protects species from extinction, but also increases the immunity of others fruits by its existence. The pest that favors one variety, will undoubtedly avoid another. This is why it is so dangerous to focus our efforts on growing a few small handful of easily marketed varieties. If a disease or pest arises which is well suited to the destruction of the very few varieties upon which we have become dependent, our food sources will be destroyed.
Many millions of varieties of fruits and vegetables have been developed in specific regions which have been tested through the generations and noticed to grow well in particular microclimates and growing conditions. Our ancestors had identified and bred favorite varieties to grow in specific regions and these varieties are now being forgotten but they are not yet lost. We support the efforts of those who grow and distribute heirloom seeds and we have started a few projects of our own to help increase awareness of the importance of preserving the many unique and wonderful varieties of heirloom plants before they become extinct.