My personal initiative to collect and recuperate seeds of “tropical” fruits that are eaten by Europeans has become a considerable success. Here is my general descriptive text on that initiative :
Seeds for Food
Let us ban hunger and poverty from the World
UNICEF PROJECT IN THE REFUGEE CAMPS OF THE SAHARAWIS (S.E. ALGERIA)
PROJECT OF THE SCAD ORGANIZATION IN TAMIL NADU (SOUTH-INDIA)
WE COLLECT SEEDS OF TROPICAL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
In 2005 I was invited by UNICEF ALGERIA as an advisor for the project “Family gardens and school gardens in the Saharawi refugee camps in South-East Algeria”.
A preliminary study of ours gave evidence that we were able to teach families and schools of these refugees (most of them nomads and fishermen), who have lived in those Sahara camps for more than 30 years, how to layout small kitchen gardens. We can also show them how to grow fruits and vegetables with a minimum of water and fertilizers, using a water stocking soil conditioner.
In this part of the Sahara (the area around the city of Tindouf) there are two seasons:
(1) the autumn-winter season (from September till January) in which various vegetables can be grown: lettuce, beetroots, carrots, onions, parsley …
(2) the spring-summer season (from February till August) in which it is too hot for vegetables, but in which they can grow various tropical fruits such as melons, watermelons, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, papayas and eggplants (aubergines).
2008-07 – André ROMBAUT (Ghent, Belgium) in his allotment garden at Slotenkouter (St. Amandsberg), one of the supporters of SEEDS FOR FOOD
The planning and layout of family and school gardens is no major problem, since there is plenty of space. If one uses a soil conditioner that can store irrigation water, a very small amount of water will do to create sufficient moisture in the soil for granting a continuous growth. Unfortunately, there is lack of seeds of tropical fruits and vegetables. Commercial seeds are much too expensive. Vitally important to these people is not to grow special high quality varieties, but to have at their disposal some juicy food in the hottest period of the year, when nothing else is growing in the desert.
Therefore we call on you to show your solidarity with those poverty-stricken refugees or with this poor rural population of India.
We don’t ask you any money
Only send, when it suits you, the seeds you find in the fruits you eat yourself: melons, water melons, pumpkins etc.
Just rinse these seeds in water and dry them on a plate (not on a piece of paper as it would stick to the seeds). As soon as the seeds are thoroughly dried, put them in a paper envelope and put the name of the species on it.
The more we gather seeds the more families we can help.
2008-07 – André DHOOGHE inspecting his fine allotment garden in the Slotenkouter Park (St. Amandsberg, Belgium).
One thing we know for sure: this project can turn out to be a world initiative, since we, citizens of the developed countries, young or old, (grand)parents, children and grandchildren, we can work together. However small your contribution, however small the parcel of grains you send us, we can assure you that it will contribute to improve the standard of living of the poor, since YOUR SEEDS GET TO THE PEOPLE without any go-between.
This way we will contribute together to fight hunger and poverty in the world.
Friends of the Belgian Allotment Gardens Association are contributing splendidly to this action. They collect a lot of seeds of vegetables and fruits. They even introduced my action to the International Allotment Gardens Association.
Recently, journalist Joanna CRUDDAS contacted me for more detailed information in order to incorporate it in an article to be published in the FINANCIAL TIMES.
Yesterday, August 16, 2008, Joanna CRUDDAS’ article “Seeds of Hope” was published. Please enjoy reading her excellent story :
Seeds of hope
By Joanna Cruddas
Published: August 16 2008 03:00 | Last updated: August 16 2008 03:00
I stand in my allotment plot, surrounded by beans, carrots, courgettes, sweet peas and a glut of bolting lettuces. It is just three months since we gathered for the annual blessing of London’s Fulham Palace Meadows Allotments, praying that they would yield a rich harvest in the months to come, that we would be protected from whatever threats might arise from the increasing pressure for the council to find building land in one of the world’s largest cities. “Now thank we all our God,” our hymn-joined voices had rung out. I do thank Him. Amateur gardener as I am, I haven’t had to buy a vegetable in weeks. My home has been filled with flowers I’ve grown.
“We plough the fields and scatter . . . ,” we sang at the service and, as plants are now going to seed, this is the time to respond to a request from Professor Willem Van Cotthem, a Belgium-based botanist and consultant for The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), for allotment holders around the world to collect and scatter their seeds as far as the refugee camps in the Sahara.
The Saving Seeds Project was conceived in 2005 to help set up family and school gardens in refugee camps in south-east Algeria. Van Cotthem’s paper, attached to the 2008 International Allotment Gardener’s Congress agenda, encourages plot-holders to collect their seeds and send them to him for distributing to famine-struck zones. After discovering wild melons growing in the heat of the desert summer, he introduced cultivated ones, then papaya, peppers, avocados, watermelons, aubergines and other tropical plants and they thrived. In winter, vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, onions, parsley and lettuce grow well.
“Rinse the seeds in water, dry them on a plate and once quite dry put them in a paper envelope with the name of the species on it,” he asks. “The more we gather seeds, the more families we can help.” Allotment holders from the UK to Australia, from Japan to the famous Schrebergartens in Germany are the obvious source.
Saving Seeds Project,
Copyright <http://www.ft.com/servicestools/help/copyright> The Financial Times Limited 2008
My sincere thanks go to Joanna CRUDDAS and the FINANCIAL TIMES for their valuable support. I hope many people from all over the world will send seeds to show their solidarity with this inexpensive project.