The magic of seeds has always fascinated me. As a child I liked to watch the beans growing in the garden, their bent stem gently emerging from the ground to defy the sun, opening up to deploy their first leaves in the wind. I would spend hours contemplating life unfolding before my eyes.
As a farmer, seeds have always been at the core of my work. They are the raw material of agriculture as well as a source of social bonds, and exchange is a key feature of a farmers’ seed system.
Exchanging seeds is the first stone of agriculture. When humans turned from foragers to farmers, they had to select the right seeds to guarantee their food security and sedentary lifestyle. With agriculture as a new source of livelihood, humans were able to spend time doing something else than hunting gathering. They started to build living facilities. The history of seeds and the history of civilization – our History – are closely intertwined. When we decided to participate in the creation of a farmers’ seed house, our aim was to recover control of seed production and redefine a social organization in which farmers can produce and exchange what supports life. Our movement is growing. Dozens of seed houses already exist in France and in other countries as well. There might be one in your area too.
First we organised as farmers, and very quickly we were joined by gardeners. All together, we defined operating modes and shared tasks. Production, training and seeds sorting are now part of our daily lives. This comprehensive approach lends coherence to small scale, peasant farming.
The Farmers’ Seed House gave us a chance to re-appropriate knowledge and skills, to produce quality and healthy food, bread, cheese, fruits and vegetables. We have opened our farms to the public. We have defined our own rules. We are becoming more and more empowered. We have laid the first stone of a new world.
Tomorrow, there will be more of us. Can we count on you?
Pierre Dudout is an ecological farmer in France.
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