Submitted by: ICPPC - International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside
Implemented country: Poland
Title: Pilot Project in the Province of Malopolska Maintains Seed Diversity
There are many small family farming businesses in the Polish province of Malopolska that still grow grains and vegetables in the traditional way. Unfortunately, more and more farmers are buying seeds in stores or at the market without knowing where the seeds originally come from. Most of the seeds are bad quality and consist of undefinable crossbreeding. There is no way of telling if the seeds are genetically manipulated and smuggled across the border. However, there is also little or no awareness among farmers concerning the importance of using local seeds or trading with neighboring farmers. That way, traditional crops get lost and are replaced by cheap imports.
Jadwiga Wietrzna-Lopata has been observing this alarming development. She loves rural Poland with its wide variety of species and would like to preserve traditional crops. This is how she came up with the idea of a LIVING SEEDS Bank in Malopolska. She wanted the farmers to become more aware of how important varietal purity really is and how they can store their own seeds. She also wanted to resurrect the old tradition of trading and selling seeds with neighboring farmers. There are 312,000 farms that could benefit from this.
The Living Seeds Bank was established in 2007 with the objective of preserving traditional seeds and plants. The organization offers national conferences, activities for creating greater awareness of the issues involved as well information on the values and advantages of using local seeds, conferences, workshops, tasting and sampling, training sessions, etc. in the hopes of preserving the Polish agricultural heritage. There is also an internet website and pamphlets with information and pictures. Meanwhile the stocks of good, traditional seeds are on the increase. Many farmers are now encouraging their neighbors to help protect Poland’s biodiversity and to watch out for the quality of seeds. Jadwiga is very pleased with the success of her project and reckons that her son will still benefit from biodiversity in Poland and enjoy a wider variety of traditional foods.
''Produce good food and eat local, good quality foods. Start from yourself - one has to practice what one preaches."
Jadwiga Wietrzna – Lopata