Recap Reclaim the Seeds 2019!


After months of planning, Reclaim the Seeds, Wageningen Edition, took place on the 30th of March. It was a bright, sunny day, putting everyone in a summer mood, and making it a perfect day to celebrate agro-biodiversity, sustainable food production and to reclaim our right to freely swap and share unpatented, GMO-free seeds! The main location of the event was the Hoge Born farm, but there were also many food forest-related workshops that took place at the Droevendaal Farm.

A couple of hundreds of people showed up to stroll through the elaborate seed market, where one could buy seeds from Smaakzaden, Gradinka Kruidentuinen, Onszaden, Tuin Joop and more. For the people who brought their own seeds, there was a seed swap table, where everyone could share their favorite seeds and go home with new varieties to try out. There were also some information stands, from Aseed, Toekomstboeren and CGN, amongst others. Madelon Oostwoud and Arkel Uitgeverij provided the opportunity for people to buy books and enlarge their knowledge about biodiversity and sustainable seeds.

Apart from the seed market, there was an elaborate workshop program. Prof. Dr. Pablo Tittonell opened the event with an interesting speech in which he outlined the status-quo regarding global food production, and the alarming loss of agro-biodiversity. Later that day, he also joined Kees Van Veluw in a tour around the Droevendaal Farm. Moreover, we got to learn about organic apple breeding by Remmelt Groenwold, about seed banks from Noortje Bas, and about financing biological plant breeding by René Groenen.

As this Reclaim the Seeds-edition was organized in Wageningen, and by the student organization Stichting Boerengroep, it is only natural that a lot of young people were involved. Many volunteers and visitors were students, but also some of the workshops were organized by students, such as the one about agro-ecology, given by Heitor Mancini Teixeira and the two Boerengroep interns, Eva and Maria-Franca, the active workshop given by Wageningen Student Farm and the interactive talk given by Ester Klein Hesselink, who did her internship about food forests in the Netherlands.

There were also a number of workshops that focused more on Retaining the Breeds, such as the workshops about chicken husbandry given by Godert Wytema, and the workshop about rare Dutch farm animal breeds that was given by Nonja Remijn from Stichting Zeldzame Huisdierrassen.

Another sub-theme at Reclaim the Seeds was Regain the Trees, and this refers to all aspects of agro-forestry. The workshops given by Bastiaan Rooduijn, Kees Van Veluw and Malika Cieremans took place next to the Food Forest at Droevendaal Farm. There were a lot of interesting talks about what a food forest is, and how to start one.

Instead of elaborating more on the different subjects and ideas flowing about on Reclaim the Seeds, I offer you some of the essential parts of it, summarized by the workshop-givers themselves:

“Reclaiming the seeds and our food system requires action on all levels: from local food-cooperatives to changing the European agriculture policies. People and farmers instead of corporations.” – Herman van Bekkem.

Food forests are the future of agriculture and nature. Abundance and diversity, local and global.” – Malika Cieremans

“If you want to reclaim seeds, you also have to organize nature in a way so that healthy food is created by it and in a way that this food will be eaten.” – Louis Dolmans

“Reclaiming the seeds involves comprehending social-ecological contexts of human practices that affect ecological diversity. Cultural diverse values, thinking and land use are necessary to counterbalance monocultural thinking and practices.” – Fernanda Ayaviri Matuk

The Boerengroep team coordinating this event has concluded that this day was a great success. This was a day to remember for us as an organization and for those who also took part in it, because in the end, we are all participants of reclaiming the seeds.