Greeks are going through hard economic times these days, but they are still quietly making a huge investment in the future of food. The story begins with a packet of seeds and roots from an American seed bank. Panagiotis Sainatoudis was intrigued and scrambled to find the money to buy it.
That was in January 1991. In September 1992 he was hand delivering invitations to his brother’s wedding when he saw a dark, stubby corn plant flourishing in a yard. He asked for some seeds and then was inspired to ask for seeds from everyone on the invitation list.
Fired with passion for local varieties, Sainatoudis started the Peliti Seed Bank. Traveling on foot, hitchhiking, catching rides with friends, he went from village to village in search of seeds. In recounting his story, he writes:
I learned that the things we see in front of us are what we already have in our head. I learned that nothing happens by chance. I learned that when we decide to do something the whole universe comprises for its success. I learned that we have nothing and nobody to fear apart from ourselves. I learnt that we are significant and important regardless of our economic condition.
Since then the Peliti Seed Bank has grown into a community of people, scattered around the country but all committed to agricultural biodiversity. The annual Pan-Hellenic Festival for the Exchange of Local Varieties attracts people from all over Greece and beyond. They converge in the remote valley of Mesochori in northeastern Greece to exchange seeds and knowledge and to take a stand for the preservation of indigenous varieties, plants and animals.
Read more about the Peliti Seed Bank:
- The Peliti Seed Bank
- Peliti: An Alternative Community in Greece
- Greeks mobilise to protect endangered seeds