The Caravan was organised by Navdanya International, Peliti (Greece) and Kokopelli (France).
INDEX – LINKS
Florence Declaration on Seed Freedom, Food Freedom and Earth Democracy
International Solidarity Caravan for Seeds – A Report – by Manlio Masucci
Travelling and Celebrating the Freedom of Seeds – by Myrto Pispini – Arc2020
SEED ACT, the movie
Seed Freedom Caravan, the song
Peliti Report – by Vasso Kanellopoulou in collaboration with Panagiotis Sainatoudis
Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival – Elbataste
International Solidarity Caravan for Seeds – A Report
by Manlio Masucci (translated by Navdanya International)
This year Navdanya International’s Seed Caravan crossed three European countries, calling on both farmers and common citizens to celebrate biodiversity, seed freedom, the right to healthy food and to reject the patenting of life itself by the enormously powerful corporations who aim to control the entire food chain solely in the name of profit.
The International Solidarity Caravan for Seeds, organized by Navdanya International (Vandana Shiva’s organisation), Peliti and Kokopelli under the Seed Freedom International Campaign, travelled for more than 4000 km from Greece, through Italy to France, to show how farmers’ problems have now become global, just as their negative repercussions on consumers have too. The Caravan’s message of alarm caught the attention of citizens, political representatives and the media, who are becoming increasingly interested in what is happening in the food sector, target of powerful economic forces which keep fuelling misinformation in public opinion for their private interests.
The Caravan’s strong message of protest against an economic model that is handing over our dietary traditions, our culture and our health to a small group of multinational companies whose only interests are profits and dividends was widely heard. With the precise aim of bringing farmers’ struggles to international recognition, the Declaration of Florence was drawn up and a new continental alliance was created in collaboration with some of the world’s major associations for the defence of traditional seeds.
The Caravan’s first stop was in Greece, under the 14th Pan-Hellenic Festival for the exchange of local varieties organised by Peliti. Over three thousand people got together in the area of Paranesti, in the north of Greece, to participate in a real celebration of biodiversity where seeds were both exchanged and given out for free. This was an act of civil disobedience that shaped the Caravan’s entire journey with seeds being distributed freely at every stop.
This form of non-violent struggle, known as “satyagraha” which was first applied by Gandhi and which stands for “commitment to the truth” is exactly the form of protest which the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva calls for: “The movement to save local seeds in agriculture begins with the de facto elimination of the possibility for farmers around the world to preserve the seeds grown in their own fields, these being free, renewable and patent-free”.
Corporations are monopolizing the seed market, thus effectively controlling the entire world’s food supply. More than three quarters of seeds used come from the agro-industry. This genocide of dietary and cultural traditions translates into a real monetary theft to the detriment of farmers, who set aside a major part of their resources to buying new seeds. But this is also a major theft of democracy. Claiming back seeds and land as ‘commons’ has become vital in confronting and resolving the economic crisis by creating new life and job opportunities for young generations.
Saving seeds means sowing the future – a global problem which is also present in Europe. In fact, current European seed legislation favours the industrial model, endangering traditional varieties and food safety for citizens. The caravan has thus aimed to spread a message to those citizens who are in favour of collective rights on local varieties, of farmers’ rights to self-produce and of the free exchange of seeds.
Having travelled through Greece giving out seeds and demonstrating in cities on the way, the Caravan headed towards Italy. A bus carrying forty activists, all of different nationalities, wended its way from the port of Ancona to Florence to the “Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival”. It was an occasion both for celebration and protest in the centre of the historic city in the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, where farmers continued distributing seeds for free and displayed their chemical-free and GMO-free produce. Citizens and children mingled and celebrated with activists and musicians from Greece and Italy helped celebrate with their music and dancing, reminding everyone of how food is intrinsically tied to culture, tradition and social relations.
The Festival was the occasion for a first encounter between European seed movements and led to the Declaration of Florence, a manifesto setting out the movement’s position, and its commitment to the affirmation of a real “Earth Democracy”.
After leaving Florence, the Caravan made a stop in Genoa for another public manifestation jointly organised with Terra! Onlus. That day was the occasion for the inauguration of a “Semeteca”, a sort of ‘seed library’ for the preservation of different seed varieties preserved in recent years that can be exchanged and used for horticultural purposes.
The Caravan, headed by Vandana Shiva, weaved it way across southern France to the “International Seed Festival” at Mas d’Azil, organised by the Kokopelli association where indeed the representatives of the Greek, Italian and French movements had the chance to get together and announce the birth of a new Continental Alliance that will be concerned with the safeguarding of farmers’ rights and those of consumers, defying the European lobbies on the grounds of seed legislation.
On its way back, the Caravan was hosted by the Longo Mai community in Forcalquier. This community has been active since 1973 and represents a point of reference for anyone interested in an alternative lifestyle based on the principles of respect for the earth and of economic and environmental sustainability. The Caravan’s visit presented the occasion for speaking about seeds and alternative developmental models.
Travelling and Celebrating the Freedom of Seeds
by Myrto Pispini – Arc2020, 6 June 2014
International Solidarity Caravan For Seeds
“You did everything possible to bury me – But you forgot that I am a seed”
Dinos Christianopoulos, greek poet*
All the beautiful ideas are like the natural seeds – if they find a fertile ground will grow and blossom and give flowers and fruits. Imagine that when we mix beautiful ideas from inspirational people from diverse (back)grounds and actual natural seeds. The result cannot but only thrive and travel in the name of the International Solidarity Caravan for Seeds.
This is a project conceived by the international movement for the Freedom of Seeds and Indian Navdanya Movement (India), and embraced by the seed exchange community of Peliti (Greece) and the French Seed Association of Kokopelli (France).
The Seed Caravan actually traveled between April 26th and May 4th from Greece, then Italy and final stop to France carrying happy seeds and people (39 in total) from six countries (Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany, Italy and India) to bring to the attention of Europe the voices of those who want their agriculture to be free of poisons and GMOs and in favour of local seeds and biodiversity.
Nearly every stop and a seed celebration festival! Exchange and sharing of knowledge, experiences, seeds and songs. The Caravan set out from North of Greece, from the biggest annual free local seed exchange festival organised by Peliti where 3000 people attended this year. The first stop was the “Karatasiou” former military camp in Thessaloniki, which has been occupied by citizens’ groups for purposes of urban agriculture (PER.KA).
With the victory of the rejection of the EU draft seed law by the EU Parliament still fresh in the memory, Peliti sets the tone of the journey: “When a European farmer loses the ability to hold, improve, exchange, and sell seeds, all farmers of the world are losing their freedom. Consumers lose their freedom to choose healthy and safe food. Democracy itself is threatened. When in the EU are enacted and implemented such laws, the freedom and democracy of all nations of the world are threatened . The entire history of agriculture is erased- and our food sovereignty is at risk . The problems faced by farmers in Greece are the same faced by farmers in Guatemala , France, India, Australia, etc. We resist this oppression celebrating the abundance and fertility that gives us the Mother Earth through traditional seeds”
In Italy, the Caravan did two stops one in Florence where met Dr. Vandana Shiva in the Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival and the second one in Genoa, to participate in events organized by Terra, an association claiming public land for young farmers. On its way to Kokopelli’s International Seed Festival, the Caravan were received by the self-sufficient Longo Mai eco-community, which cultivates and processes its own agricultural produce.
The International Seed Days at Kokopelli , gathered organizations from France, Greece, India , Chile, Brazil, Madagascar, Colombia, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal , etc. The discussions between seed saver organizations culminated in the creation of an ALLIANCE FOR SEED FREEDOM, which will process and implement joint actions. More than 600 people attended Vandana Shiva’s talk despite the heavy rain.
The Florence seed festival declaration conveys the vision of the seed savers organizations that participated in this project. “We are here to sow the seeds of the future and sow the seeds of another vision for the planet and its inhabitants. The Caravan and the Seed Festival are reclaiming the commons of the seed, the land and our cultural heritage. The industrial agricultural model has brought us to a severe crisis where land is degraded, biodiversity is destroyed and farmers are being uprooted from their livelihoods and culture and where seed is being privatized, destroyed, patented and enclosed. The old economy, based on privatizing the commons of the seed and our knowledge, has resulted in an ecological crisis on one hand and a deep economic crisis on the other. […] This imbalanced economic model has created huge unemployment and the young have no jobs.
This model allows the appropriation of public goods and public assets and is destroying not just the land, but family farming and opportunities for the youth. To the greed of financial institutions, the appropriation of our lands and of the commons should not be allowed. […] We commit ourselves to defending the biodiversity and freedom of the seed to be shared and considered as a commons.”
*Many thanks to Vasso Kanelopoulou and Panagiotis Sainatoudis ( see also previous Arc2020 posts) from Peliti for sending me their inspirational memories from the journey of the #seedfreedomcaravan
A portuguese crew of film makers was on board with the Caravan. The experience will be part of the film SEED ACT: http://cargocollective.com/liquen/SEED-ACT
SEED ACT Facebook Page: http://cargocollective.com/liquen/SEED-ACT
More photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.662585557146426.1073741829.625561440848838
Seed Freedom Caravan – Namaste
Thanasis Kleopas – Vocals, Guitar, El.Bass
Alexia Chrysomalli – Vocals, Guitar
Panagiotis Alepidis – Percusion, Vocals
Faceboook: Namaste Band
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by Vasso Kanellopoulou in collaboration with Panagiotis Sainatoudis, founder of Peliti – 31 May 2014
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY CARAVAN FOR SEEDS:
From Peliti- Greece to Kokopelli – France, via Italy (26/4 to 7/5/2014 )
An expedition for spreading the message of seed freedom.
“You did everything possible to bury me
But you forgot that I am a seed“
Saturday, April 26, 2014. The 14th Pan-Hellenic Seed Exchange Festival for Local Varieties took place on the land of Peliti in the area of Paranestinear Drama Northern Greece, with wonderful weather and a turnout of 3,000 visitors ( from Greece and abroad) who came to meet the farmers who cultivatetraditional seeds and propagate them. There were workshops, lectures, free donations of seeds and plants from traditional varieties as well as music performed by the group Namaste and others and, last but not least, dances and collective cooking in large cauldrons.
Sunday April 27. The Caravan – a coach with initially 25 people ( it was calculated later that 39 people boarded the caravan in the course of the expedition) from different countries (Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany, Italy, India) set out on the scheduled itinerary to the South of France, home of the Kokopelli seed organization, which has been sued by a large company because it dares to sell traditional seeds that are not listed in the official catalogue (and it is impossible to register them because of the unreasonable registration criteria).
The Caravan’s trip started with all of us joining hands in a circle and Sofia Gida sung:
Opening our arms to the sun
Opening our arms to the sun
and singing. Singing
The light is trilling
in the veins of the verdure and stone.
It was worth existing for this encounter.
It was worth existing for this encounter.
(From “Spring Symphony” of Giannis Ritsos, music by Giannis Markopoulos)
The first stop was the “Karatasiou” former military camp in Thessaloniki, which has been occupied by citizens’ groups for purposes of urban agriculture (PER.KA. http://perka.org/). Panagiotis Sainatoudis explained the threat against freedom for traditional seeds, following which the PER.KA members presented their work of cultivating both plants and human relations. At the end we planted an olive tree as a symbol of our co-operation.
The second stop was Aristotle Square in Thessaloniki . We went with the banner of the caravan but it was raining and not many turned up for the function. We therefore distributed seeds to the people sitting in the neighboring cafeterias, at the same time explaining to them the reasons for our campaign.
The third stop: Ioannina. The lake was lovely at sunset. The local Peliti team had prepared a lakeside reception for the caravan participants and the citizens of the city, including beautiful local live music. Following an outline of the seed issue (by Panagiotis) there was celebration and dancing to the Namaste band, which is part of the Caravan. Later in the night we departed for the Igoumenitsa port to embark for the sea trip to Ancona, Italy.
Monday 28/4 was spent at sea, with a lot of discussions about seeds and other issues. Shortly before arrival we organized an event on the seed issue in the ship’s lounge. Upon arrival in Ancona we set off for Reggelo in the Tuscany region, where we were greeted by Dr. Vandana Shiva and a group of German farmers.Our room and board in a traditional agrotouristic farm was courtesy of NavdanyaInternational (http://www.navdanyainternational.it ),who also covered all rental and travel expenses for the bus.
Tuesday 29/4. Arrival in Florence. At the Botanical Gardens Dr. Vandana Shiva presented the seed issue to childrenholding small “seed banks” to be filled. Peliti also distributed seeds from Greece while Panagiotis Sainatoudis played a theatrical game with children. In this wonderful city the Caravan also participated with public speeches in the main Annunciation Square (V. Shiva, P. Sainatoudis, N. Lalou from Romania), and a special display stand for free distribution of traditional seeds. The public events closed with music by the “Namaste” band, which was particularly appreciated by the dancing public.
Later we had a 2-hour meeting with a network of Italian organizations and other organizations from Europe dealing with land issues, agriculture and food. Common goals were discussed and a decision was taken in favour of permanent future collaboration. Peliti proposes the adoption of a manual for the collection and preservation of traditional varieties which will be released in many languages, and invited Dr. Shivato Athens for the October 2014 events. For the night of Tuesday 29/4 we returned to the farm.
Wednesday 30/4. Departure for Genoa to participate in events organized by Terra, an association claiming public land for young farmers. Besides Dr. Shiva there were additional people from Italy and Germany now joining the caravan events. In the crowded venue Dr. Vandana Shiva made a speech, followed by Panagiotis. A solid foundation is being laid for future collaboration. At the end we presented traditional seed varieties to the participants, with a similar donation for the seed bank prepared by the organizers. In the evening we continued the trip towards southern France, hosted for the night at the self-sufficient Longo Mai eco-community, which cultivates and processes its agricultural produce (region of Arles and the village St Martin de Crau).
Thursday –May Day ! A morning tour of the traditional mixed cereal cultivations of Longo Mai and its processing infrastructure, with discussion of the community’s social organization. The Longo Mai communities started at the early 70s as a consequence of the May 68 ideas. Departure for the foothills of the Pyrenees, where the Kokopelli organization has its headquarters. Arrival at Kokopelli, Le Mas d Azil, around noon, followed by commencement of preparations for the International Seed Days meetings among organizations.
On 1st and 2nd May, INTERNATIONAL SEED DAYS AT KOKOPELLI , a meeting of organizations from France, Greece , India , Chile, Brazil, Madagascar, Colombia, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, etc. The discussions between seedsaver organizations culminated in the creation of an ALLIANCE FOR SEED FREEDOM, which will process and implement joint actions. Details of this alliance will be announced later.
Friday May 2, events open to the public. Despite the persistent rain the big tent set up by Kokopelli, with a capacity of 600 people, was packed during Dr. Vandana Shiva’s speech. Peliti made its presence felt by distributing seeds for free.Among other things, Vandana highlighted the enormous importance of the seeds issue in view of thesteadily growing financialisation of the economy.
May 3, Saturday morning: a tour of Kokopelli’s seed facilities. An olive tree was presented to the founder of Kokopelli as a symbol of peace and co-operation.
Saturday night. The musical concert in the tent kicked off with the Greek band “Namaste” and the Portuguese singer who had participated in the caravan. They improvised songs on the issue of seeds, distributing seeds from the stage and successfully generating enthusiasm in the audience.That evening, we all conveyed our best wishes and thanks to Vandana Shiva, who was preparing to fly to back to India the following morning.
Sunday, May 4. The last day of public events at Kokopelli, with an exchange of plants and seeds, but the Caravan had to depart immediately due to the length of the return trip. We were hosted for the night by the first and largest of the LongoMai communities, located to the north of Aixen Provence near the village of Forcalquier.
Just before sunset we had the opportunity of a brief tour of the working areas of the eco-community. In the greenhouse we were informed of the film in course of production and aimed at spreading knowledge of seed production. (It is not only the seeds that are being lost: it is also the related knowledge and expertise). In the community we also had the opportunity to see alternative ways of building. One of the most inspiring stories we heardwas of a school in a nearby village that had been closed by the authorities. The parents in Longo Mai took over the school and paid their own teacher. Finally the authorities had to open it again. The reopening helps local development because young couples with children are now enabled to come and live in the village.
Monday, May 5. During our visit to the impressive weekly market at Forcalquier, where local produce is sold, we purchased from the nursery for transportation to Greece three plants exemplifying local varieties of olives. One is to be planted on the Peliti land, and the other two will be presented to the monks in the area of Mani who have created a farm specializing in local varieties of olives. As the time came to leave, we felt pleased and experienced a feeling of fulfilment. We then proceeded to cross the border between France and Italy to catch the ferry back to Greece. Our final Caravan event took place at the centre of the city of Genoa, where we stood with our banners in front of the railroad station. Our last overnight stay was at a youth hostel in the Italian city of Correggio.
Tuesday May 6: Departure for Greece from Ancona. On the boat we made a final résuméof our trip. Each person tried to assimilate what he/she had seen and felt during this great trip, which for all of us was both motivating and inspiring.
Wednesday May 7. Arrival at the port of Igoumenitsa, Greece.
The Caravan was organized by Alternative Community Peliti (www.peliti.gr), The GlobalMovement for Seed Freedom (http://seedfreedom.in), Navdanya Association (http:///www.navdanya.org)and by Kokopelli (http://kokopelli-semences.fr)
The Caravan, an idea born in Athens 7 months ago became a reality, proving to all of us yet again that when we remain steadfast in our dreams, they can come true. We thank all the people and the organizations who helped us.
Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival
Original Source [IT]: Elbataste, June 2014
Festival dei semi, del cibo e della democrazia della terra: http://www.elbataste.com/2014/05/04/festival-dei-semi-del-cibo-e-della-democrazia-della-terra/
Translated by Elisa Mussio – Navdanya International
The “Seed Festival” held its first event on the 28th and 29th of April in P.zza SS. Annunziata in Florence; this event was also the venue for the first stop-off of the International Solidarity Caravan for Seeds, organised by Navdanya International and Seed Freedom and led by the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva.
The Caravan’s aim is to protect seed varieties that belong to our agro-dietary heritage.
“The movement for the safeguard of local seeds in agriculture stems from the elimination, de facto, of the possibility for farmers around the world to preserve the seeds grown in their own fields, these being gratuitous, renewable and free of any patents”, explains Vandana Shiva, whose association Navdanya (meaning “nine seeds”) has contributed in achieving 111 community seed banks, engaging roughly half a million Indian farmers in the defence of food sovereignty in the past 20 years.
Navdanya International’s vice president Maria Grazia Mammuccini said on stage: “The European Union’s current legislation on this topic needs to be reviewed as it only allows buying and selling those seeds that adhere to the industrial model’s logic”, “One can only insert in the national registry those distinct varieties that are stable and unvarying. Thus, by definition, local varieties are not allowed: that which is essential by nature, i.e. diversity and adaptability, is forbidden by law. If indeed we want to safeguard our food safety then we need to introduce the principle of collective property on local varieties”.
From Florence, Vandana Shiva launched the “Seed Satyagraha” (Gandhi’s non-violent struggle, literally meaning “commitment to the truth”, also prectised by the radical party in Italy). “We want to plant seeds of the future, seeds representing a different vision of a different future, both for the planet and for ourselves”, “this model of industrial agriculture has led us to a serious crisis, where the earth has been degraded, biodiversity has been destroyed and farmers have been uprooted from their activities and their culture, and where seeds have been privatised, destroyed and patented. From here, from Florence, we are committing to an agricultural renaissance and to the creation of a new economy, built on a commons, on sharing and on creative and collective intelligence.”
The Region of Tuscany has signed a protocol with Navdanya International that envisions more than 140 farmers becoming keepers of circa 700 local plant species that are at risk of extinction.
Near the Orto Botanico of Florence, Vandana Shiva and some seed keepers signed the “Seed Promise” in the presence of some children, a symbolic gesture through which the kids will receive local seeds as a present, thus committing to carry on growing and protecting them.
Facebook Photo Albums:
- Peliti, Greece: Pan-Hellenic Exchange Festival of Local Varieties, 26 April: http://on.fb.me/1lu6PCK
- Aristotelous Square, Thessaloniki, Greece, 27 April: http://on.fb.me/1jT8ggn
- Seed Caravan trip to Ancona, Italy, 28 April: http://on.fb.me/1gcmB7M
- Seed Caravan: From Ancona to Florence, 28 April: http://on.fb.me/1mDEv3u
- Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival in Florence, 29 April: http://on.fb.me/1n6Sc9M
- Terra! Onlus joins the Seed Caravan in Genoa, Italy, 30 April: http://on.fb.me/1gzkv2c
- Seed Caravan trip to France, 1 May – Dr. Vandana Shiva on board!: http://on.fb.me/1jTgC7F
- Kokopelli International Seed Days, France, 1 – 4 May: http://on.fb.me/TdQ9rM
- The Seed Caravan reaches Longo Maï Community, 5 May: http://on.fb.me/1jFioUR
- SEED ACT photo album: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.662585557146426.1073741829.625561440848838
Join the Caravan online!
Navdanya International Website: http://www.navdanyainternational.it/
Navdanya International Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Navdanya-International/288179737877581
Navdanya International Contact: info [at] navdanyainternational [dot] it
Peliti Website: http://www.peliti.gr/
Peliti Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org – info [at] peliti [dot] gr
Kokopelli Website: http://kokopelli-semences.fr/
Navdanya Website: http://www.navdanya.org/
Navdanya Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/vandanashiva.navdanya
Dr. Vandana Shiva Twitter: https://twitter.com/drvandanashiva/
Seed Freedom Website – http://seedfreedom.info
Seed Freedom Twitter – https://twitter.com/
Seed Freedom Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/
Seed Freedom YouTube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/
Seed Freedom Contact: info [@] seedfreedom [dot] in
Photos by: Kartikey Shiva, Manlio Masucci, Vanessa Malandrin, Pallavi Menon