June 25, 2013
A luscious cooking class took place in Vedema on Sunday, June 23rd! Mr Panagiotis Seinatoudis, the founder of Peliti seedbank offered a cooking class of his favorites recipes to adults and children. Panagiotis and his learners had a great morning preparing delicious homemade merenda, salt from herbs and kasseri cheese with lemon.
Mr. Seinatoudis, Peliti and the importance of local seeds
Panagiotis Sainatoudis is the man who founded the Peliti organization in 1995. A few years earlier, while distributing wedding invitations in local village homes for his brother, he noticed food crops growing near the houses that intrigued him, and began talking with the local people about what they grew and about their seed-saving practices. He began travelling long distances in northern and central Greece, often on foot, sometimes hitch-hiking, sometimes by bus or train or in friends’ vehicles. He would go into the kafeneia to ask which of the locals saved seed and then go visit them. He took notes on seed varieties and their particular idiosyncrasies, and in 1999 put on the first big gathering for the sharing of what he had gathered. In 2000, a network was set up, consisting of more than 200 growers who saved seeds and wanted to share them with others.
A seedbank is a type of gene bank in which seeds are preserved. Seedbanks are a means of preserving agro-biodiversity in a time of increased global domination of seed production and sale by large companies, with vast reduction of variety and genetically uniform seed. Local varieties of food crops planted by farmers (both large and small scale) are being lost, replaced by a small number of genetically homogenous standardized varieties that may not have any of the characteristics possessed by the time-honored local varieties, such as drought-resistance, or adaptation to local soils.
Peliti (which means “oak tree” in the language of the Pontic/ Black Sea Greeks), became a legal NGO in 2003. It collaborates with groups in other countries, including Austria and Turkey, and with the Greek national seed bank in Thessaloniki. A catalogue is issued annually (in Greek only), with a listing of growers in the Peliti network who offer to share seeds that they have saved. If one turns the book upside down, one finds 65 pages with a second network, called Από Χέρι σε Χέρι, και από καρδιά σε καρδιά/ From Hand to Hand and from Heart to Heart. Listings in this network consist of services or goods offered in exchange for goods/ services desired, listed under region/ town. No money is involved.
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