Jeff Quattrone, co-chair of the Northeast/New England Slow Food USA Ark of Taste committee, tell us about the activity and the achievements reached.
Last Sunday, July 21st a Seed Swap took place during our International event Slow Food Nations in Denver. The idea of an initiative involving ancient varieties from the Ark of Taste was discussed since last year together with Cynthia Buckingham Walters, a Co-Director of the Slow Food USA School Garden Network. We prosed the idea to the director of the event and today we could make it real!
Cynthia and I truly believe in the importance of including such an initiative during a Slow Food event, as our association is at the forefront in promoting biodiversity, especially when it comes to seeds selected by farmers and gardeners for yield, taste, nutritional values and other qualities. Moreover, genetic diversity of crops is essential to face environmental changes and unpredictable climatic conditions, to ensure greater production and to protect the natural environment.
A seed swap allows to achieve different aims: from increasing participants knowledge on ancient varieties characteristics and on the Slow Food projects to facilitating farmers access to these hard to find varieties.
And the swap was a success!
Thanks to the project Library Seed Bank , which I coordinate, we were able to get several seed donations, and providing seeds for the swap: 157 packages, containing 84 different varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers, showcasing a high number of biodiversity, coming from all over the world. Chi Yei Eggplant from China, Homs 10 Squash from Syria, Kandahar Pendi Okra from Afghanistan and Tetapacha Gray Motted Cow Pea from Mexico are just some of the exotic varieties that participant could find on the tables.
Some of them also bring their own seeds to exchange, a part of the initiative which we will have to boost even more next edition.
The flow was nice through the hour of the swap, having 15-20 people at any given time, busy in reading, talking to each other, and packaging the seeds. People packaged seeds that reflected who they are. The plants that we grow reflect our sense of taste, and smell, and the textures that appeal to us. Those choices are a response to the biodiversity that nature offers us, and demonstrates our biodiversity since our senses are unique to us as individuals.
Richard Pecoraro, a very popular American seed saver, was at the event promoting his newly launched MASA – Mutual Administration Seed Association, a seed cooperative active in Colorado to build a bioregional seed bank, work on educational projects and assist local growers. Richard kindly brought seeds for the swap and engaged discussions with participants and staff members, which could potentially generate collaborations between our two realties.
An initiative to be repeated!