Exchanging seeds and planting hopes

 Now that the economic crisis is at our door, now that we are losing basic freedoms that were won through hard battles, it is time to cooperate closely…it is more important than ever to ensure free access to seeds.

With the blossoming of the first spring wild flowers, some of us suddenly feel the urge to escape to the countryside, to breathe in the fresh air and stretch our legs during long walks. It was just as I was pondering these thoughts in front of my computer when I received the invitation from Panagiotis Sainatoudis (presented in previous blogs) for this year’s International Seed Exchange Festival.

Panagiotis Saínatoudis, Greece

While the economic crisis continues to hit hard in the European South, and the EU Ministers and Deputies of the European Parliament carry on missing opportunities for a real reform, Panagiotis Sainatoudis and all the people who support their seed protection association Peliti, are continuing their invaluable work on Greece’s soil.

The inspirational lines opening the invitation..

”We are all important and significant, regardless of our financial and social status. Every day we vote with our fork, choosing the kind of agriculture and the world we want to exist in the future. Let each one of us take our own responsibility”

…remind me immediately of the colourful and joyful atmosphere of previous festivals. In these festivals there is not only an exchange of precious rare and local seeds, but also precious knowledge: the key to preserving our local food and our local practices of producing food with nature for the present and future generations.

People from all over the world are invited to the 3 day festival in Mesohori village in the north of Greece to share their experiences, as well as the practices that they have developed in their garden, their neighbourhood, their city and their country with regard to local varieties and food cultivation. Peliti is expecting people to come and participate in a huge seed swap where people can offer each other the seeds of their ancestors.

The first day of the event, 11 May is dedicated to the annual seed exchange surrounded by lots of good local food, music, workshops, speeches etc – open to everyone. The two following days (12-13 May) are aimed more at those activists who are already involved in seed campaigns across Europe and who wish to cooperate and promote coordination at an international level. As described in the invitation, the aim of the meeting is

To exchange experiences and coordinate our struggles for the free access to fertile and diverse (GMO-free) seeds and discuss how to act together against the new European seed legislation and the monopoly of the seed companies…”

The festival is organised by Peliti (www.peliti.gr ) with the support of the Europe-wide Seed Campaign, that organised the International Seed Swap in Brussels in April 2011 (www.seed-sovereignty.org), the Navdanya Movement in India, which will be represented by the international activist Vandana Shiva (www.navdanya.org), the Global Movement Navdanya (www.navdanyainternational.it), the Global Movement for Seed Freedom (http://seedfreedom.in), the Municipality of Paranesti (www.paranesti.gr), and the Centre for Environmental Education of Paranesti (www.kpeparanestiou.gr).

Myrto Pispini
About Myrto Pispini 41 Articles
Myrto Pipsini’s work covers both Greece and Spain. Currently a freelancer, Myrto has 15 years experience in environmental organisations, campaigning on agriculture and food issues. Being based in Spain and Greece, and being a lover of all good and natural Mediterranean food, she is experimenting with growing her own food, putting in practice what she is campaigning for.