Seeds: "everything starts with the seeds and ends with the seeds." This is how Karim Collier, agronomist, expressed herself in her lecture on the second day of the International Meeting on Traditional, Organic and Biodynamic Seeds and Agriculture for Life, which took place at the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), on October 20 and 21.
And the seeds that opened the Meeting were the children of the Children's Choir of the Tibetan Park School, united with the Youth Choir of the Light-Community Figueira with songs full of joy that graciously aroused the attention of the participants for the beginning of the event.
The adults then assumed their role, and it was up to agronomist Sebastião Pinheiro to give the opening lecture addressing the theme of seeds from a historical, social, economic and philosophical perspective, with his characteristic, emphatic and eloquent style.
Vladimir Moreira, agronomist, researcher and consultant, presented the book "Practical Guide for the Production of Vegetable Seeds", of his authorship, released by Irdin Editora, produced in collaboration with the Planting and Seeds Sector of the Light-Community Figueira, affiliated to the Fraternity – Humanitarian Federation (FIHF). The speaker stated that: "One of the major bottlenecks that we have today in the area of agroecology is (the lack of) accessible teaching materials for farmers. You have publications there that are not accessible to the understanding of a farmer in his daily life. So, we have been systematizing the information in the area of seed production for many years."
After the collective lunch offered free of charge by the Light-Community of Figueira, at the Center for University Integration (CIUNI), the participants of the Meeting were distributed among the 14 workshops that were given in various areas of the UFLA campus, each one focusing on the theme of traditional seeds from a specific angle, in a practical and interactive way.
The second day of the Meeting opened with musical performances by the Sounds of the Waterfall Project and the Choir of the Singing Girls of Lavras.
The presentations were followed by lectures by Embrapa researchers Irajá Antunes and Altair Machado, Laura Rossano, president of the Uruguayan Agroecology Network, and Karim Collier, from the company Sementes Vivas, from Portugal. And the instructional part of the Meeting ended with an institutional video of the Wikifarmer platform and a webinar by Stella Provelengiou, responsible for the platform, which is based in Greece.
The speakers addressed issues related to the current situation of traditional seeds, also known as creole, native, open-pollinated, non-genetically modified, and the great challenges to be faced today for the preservation of their genetic and cultural heritage in the face of the advance of commercial seeds worldwide. Information was also shared regarding food security and sustainable agricultural practices, as well as technical information aimed at training farmers for the production and improvement of seeds.
At the same time, at CIUNI, the Playful and Educational Workshop on Seeds for Children was taking place, in which beautiful mandalas were made with the seeds that the children themselves collected on the campus floor during a guided walk.
Inspired by the experiences of the Meeting, Jordana Arantes, student of Environmental Management, commented: "We should ask ourselves more where our food comes from, seek to know where it comes from, and become aware of the importance of preserving and conserving these seeds, because they are the basis of everything, the basis of our life. Without food, we wouldn't exist..."
One of the organizers of the event, Friar Renatto, coordinator of the Planting and Seeds Sector of the Light-Community Figueira, spoke about his motivations for promoting the Meeting: "Mainly to emphasize the importance of this practice called agriculture and its spiritual principles, and the relationship that this has with a field of coherences where all theory, all principles are shaped by ethics and respect. Agriculture is the first step that we have to improve, as human beings, to make it conscious, to find a form of life that is structured with greater balance on the surface of the Earth. This is one of the main reasons why we have started to build an event that has such repercussions on a global, international panorama."
After a morning of intense programming, the participants were able to enjoy again a delicious vegan feijoada offered at lunch, and headed to the Historical Square of UFLA, where the Fair of exchange of creole, native and ancestral seeds took place, and an exhibition of organic products and elaborations. In this relaxed moment, the participants were able to talk, exchange experiences and, of course, seeds, while the children watched an educational and entertaining puppet theater, created and staged by members of the Light-Community.
During the fair, the teacher and farmer from Três Corações, Pablo Gomes, expressed his satisfaction in participating in the event: "Whenever we meet people like this, with this purpose of sharing seeds, people who live off the land, this moment here for me is the coolest part. The conversation, the exchange of information... That's pretty good. I bring not only seeds, but new friendships and contacts..."
It all starts with the seeds and ends with the seeds. And so was the Encounter, which began in the seeds and completed its cycle, ending in the seeds.
* The Meeting is the result of the collaboration and partnership of several entities that have shown interest in the study and dissemination of knowledge about traditional seeds: Federal University of Lavras, Municipal Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development of Lavras-MG, Central of Associations of Organic Producers of the South of Minas, Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of the South of Minas Gerais, Association of Biodynamic Agriculture of the South, Brazilian Association of Biodynamic Agriculture and Light-Community Figueira.