Monthly Archives: October 2009

Report from Seed Savers’ Tour of Japan

Wed, 28/10/2009 – Jude Fanton

Seed Savers Japan tour, 22nd October to 8th November. Kanazawa city, Kyushu island, Nagoya city and Chiba Prefecture. Biodiversity Japan invited us to give the keynote speech at Biodiversity Symposium in Kanazawa city.

Concept of seed saving is known but we hear not practised except by very few. We’ll meet the seed keepers in the next two weeks!

IMAGE Meeting with Domoto-san centre front with Michel and Jude Fanton and then our former intern, Megumu Ogata, on her left.

Saturday: Sunset Temple near Kanazawa Meeting of farmers and others interested in biodiversity and Mrs Domoto, former parliamentarian and Chiba Governor, now spokeswoman for Biodiversity Japan – concept of satoyama: landscape of the village farm and adjoining forest with Domoto-san.

IMAGE Typical satoyama.

Sunday, Jude and Michel Fanton keynote speakers Biodiversity Symposium. Promoting traditional varieties of food plants as crucial to environment and health.

Monday. Travel by express and bullet train from Kanazawa to Kyushu. Graciously hosted at shoeless Ryokan by the sea, island of Kyushu. Dinner miniature dishes of 47 ingredients.

Tuesday. Ryokan by sea specialising in local vegetables, wild foods and seafood courses such as cod’s sperm sac. Delish! Cheap as chips. Cycling around farms to film them.


Kanazawa. Contrast galore: all modernity, but access to internet eludes us even though we have Meg with us, our interpreter friend.

Technology: Amenities controlled by sensors, but overemployment like a man holding a small sign on the footpath

Food: Automated food dispensers, but the finest artistic hand-made food dominates.

Seeds: Hybrids massive in commercial ag, but urban gardeners maintain food plant biodiversity in multifarious containers.

Landscape: 400 km of urban sprawl Kyoto to Fukuoka, interspersed with bonsai, mountains and sea backdrop.

Apparel: Mini-stepping kimono-wearing women, with punk spiky anime characters.


Article on Seed Savers in Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘Good Living Magazine’

Wed, 14/10/2009 – Michel Fanton

Journalist Carli Ratcliff interviewed Jude and me when she attended one of our courses in Sydney late September.
While her article of October 13th in the Sydney Morning Herald ‘Good Living Magazine’ is a fair representation of what we told her Carli concluded that Jude and I typically show farmers how to clean seeds and store them for next year. We don’t because we know better than to do that.

We did do seed cleaning demonstrations  at the Sydney workshop but, as always, we found participants who knew better than us how to demonstrate to the other participants. However it is a different thing with subsistence farmers. We certainly don’t show Indian farmers how to save rice seeds. We rather observe them – how they breed new varieties and how they maintain their varieties year in year out. What we do offer them is help to organise seed systems to conserve their traditional varieties, and we lobby those who are supposed to help them at keeping diversity (instead of replacing local varieties by modern hybrids and pesticides).
We learn from and film indigenous farming systems. With their consent we interview farmers  to make multi media training tools.
At times we do however teach seed saving to Third World NGO staff who may be disconnected from their rural families or we teach officers who have never been in touch with growing their food and surviving a difficult climate. Examples have been in Herat University Afghanistan, to NGO staff in Oecussi, East Timor or government department staff in Cambodia etc.
We believe that the best training is: farmer to farmer. Farmers themselves are best able to find out the level of knowledge of others and show how to.
Thank you Carli all the same it was a good article and thanks to the amazing photographer Dean Sewell. To best read it, please see article attached in two halves.