Palm Sunday and the following Monday I was along with other seed savers in Brussel. We took part in Sunday’s and Monday’s demonstration and seed sharing.
The days were arranged in the network www.seed-sovereignty.org
Sunday was a cornucopia of seeds. There were free seeds to everybody. It was great to experience the warm generosity among people. The event was open to all, being a good opportunity to fill empty seed bags.
Personally, I was so overwhelmed that I hardly didn’t take any seeds. I mostly just got the seeds kind people put in my hand, as they said things like “these will be perfect for you”. Thank you, I’m sure they will.
One interesting portion seeds, however, I rejected. It was a Belgian “Princess” bean, which looked like our old Danish Princess Bean a lot. So much that I’m sure the two would be mixed up if I started sharing the Belgian with Danish seed savers. It could end up with the loss of the old Danish princess bean.
The Belgian did look as a good and exciting bean – I hope my rejection is understood.
Most of us from Denmark stayed with Ariane, Marc and their 3 boys. They were incredibly hospitable – thank you. It gave an insight into the lives of an ordinary family in Belgium.
Ariane is active in the Belgian branch of Kokopelli, an association with origins in France, which has branches in many countries. Kokopelli challenge EU seeds directive by selling seeds via their website. Nice that some take a stand, breaking a way to make changes to the directive. There must not only be room for the industrial cultivars, but also be room for the wide variety of other cultivars, and room for small players in the market who might just do a little seed in their own fields, to sell through their website. Small sale should be legal. It would undoubtedly be an inexpensive way to preserve the old varieties. Maybe with a remark that they are not included in EU variety list, so we as consumers know what we are buying and not buying. Some consumers will no doubt see it as a sign of quality, if a variety is not listed in the catalog – personally I will not go that far. But I can not see how the variety list meet the need of ordinary gardeners. We private gardeners have different needs from farmers and commercial vegetable growers, and there is nothing wrong in this. We prefer a long harvest period, and many old varieties meet our needs.
It was a wonderful mixture of people present. Activists, mountain farmers, seed savers, garden bloggers, scientists, and … well, I can not remember all. There were mainly people I did not know, but I also met people I know from the blogosphaere, like Steph and Patrick from Bifurcated Carrots, people I have swapped seeds with like Lieven David from de lusthofin Belgium.
The demonstration was colorful and happy. Click on the image, you can see more pictures on my Flickr photo page.
It was a pleasure to hear (and read) many languages.