Five thousand gather to swap seeds

Signal of change / Five thousand gather to swap seeds

By Naomi White / 20 Jan 2015

The seed bank Peliti in Greece has been raising awareness about endangered varieties of heritage seeds since 1995. Last year, an estimated 5,000 visitors from about 50 different countries attended its annual seed swap, sampling a huge range of seed varieties for free. 

Peliti differs from traditional seed banks – which store seeds under refrigeration – by keeping its seeds in the ground and germinating to guard against ‘genetic erosion’.

Peliti is a member of the transnational seed-saver network Arche Noah, one of several which have become policy reform experts on heritage seeds. 

Seed-saver communities around the world are organising local seed swaps, a movement that is partly a reaction to the demand from urban farmers in Greece who wanted more heritage seeds following the financial crisis.

Updated 21 Oct 2015

Image Credit: Ton Rulkens / Flickr

So what?

Biodiversity is under threat from falling pollinator populations, land use pressures and climate change. Informal activities to restore it, such as the exchange of seeds, can play a role in building resilience for ecosystems

Seed banks play a vital role as an insurance against the homogenisation of crop varieties; a trend that has accompanied monoculture methods in agriculture. Diversity of seed varieties used in agriculture is being lost, which means that in turn food is becoming less diverse. It also means that crops are more and more susceptible to epidemics, natural disasters and climate change.

Local seed banks are also a reaction to the monopolisation of international seed markets by multinationals such as Syngenta and Monsanto. 

Perhaps with the rise of the Informal World, we will see more open-access seed swaps in the future.

Sources

P2P Foundation (January 13, 2015). P2P Agri-food Projectfest (5): the Peliti "Live" Seed Bank in Greece.

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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