Local seed swap, landrace friendly and how to make it more so!

I’ve been to a local seed swap yesterday.
It was small, but great. I had assumed they would hate me for mixing varieties, because they’re focused on heirlooms. So i had brought no grexes along. Just herbs and stuff i don’t really have mixed varieties of.
I’ve spoken to a man who had a mixed leeks populations, when asked about it he said he had for years mixed 4 leeks with known resistence to the onion leaf miner. We had a nice conversation about it, and GTS, i showed Joseph’s book, pictures… and i took those seeds needless to say.
There was a plant breeder selling his seeds. I had seen him before at a presentation in the cinema about the coming in existence of a seed collective. He’d been supportive and said making crosses is the way to go. I was happy to speak to him again and promised to send him the book when it’s translated into French. Which he was really keen about. He’d spent years working with farmers in South America and Africa and teaches plant breeding to young people now. He’d said to me at the cinema he thought that landracing is the way into the future. I’m sure the book will convince him further. He was acquainted with Pascal Poot, a plant breeder in one of Europe’s hottest dry pockets whom i visited to speak of landraces. But he wasn’t keen at all to my surprise.

So lots of encouraging experiences at the local seedswap, the most important people there were agreeing with the landrace principles. So i feel the time is right to change the attitude for people to crossing plants.

And having local germplasm to add to reinforce my grexes will speed up the breeding effort further.


That’s excellent news Hugo.

I usually not found that to be true. I always say that my gentically diverse varieties are very resistant and vigorous and people want to try them.

Totally. You got some seed swap envelopes of new varieties? What were the most trading varieties? Or the most requested varieties or species that persons were looking for?


Great you find openminded people. I’m a lowly immigrant speaking poorly French, doesn’t help when you shatter the foundations of people’s believesystems.
I’m all the happier you can get on a soapbox telling the people how we’ve been wrong about literally everything.
I have to be quite discrete, but that’s OK.

So, no i can’t really get enough seeds to immediately dent my populations. It’s like small quantities. No mistake making… Not unlike the seed train…


Following my conversation with Hugo, I am sharing here my experience about introducing landrace approach in my local community. I am a part of one community seed bank, and I shared some things about landrace approach with one open-minded gardener who is also an educator. They then motivated people around themselves to be curious and open about it.

Then, one morning I woke up and decided to offer one online intro presentation on adaptation / landrace approach, and to my surprise 13 people showed up. Some are experienced seed savers of heirloom varieties, and some are just beginners.

It was more something like a dialogue rather than a lecture and it hooked many people. I decided to do this because it is my first season going forward with it, and I understand that I need a whole community of people doing parallel mini projects in different environments to share and exchange seeds. Although I am just a beginner I felt confident to present landrace principles because I truly believe in it, and I didn’t want waste a whole season doing it alone when there are many people who would be interested to give it a try.

I also asked them for some symbolic donations, and then as a surprise in the end I offered to send them some mixes of varieties to try out in their conditions. Most were super excited with this, and they are sending feedback about their gardens and conditions and what they would love to trial.

I managed to exchange many seeds in the past 2 months, and bought some, so I am able to create small packs of one or two kinds to send to each person who is willing to experiment with landrace approach to gardening and seed keeping.

I realized that’s the best way to build a community - to offer a different perspective and then an opportunity to try it out themselves. It generates more local engagement. There were 13 people that participated in this event, and I will for sure continue talking about it.

Hope this encourages more of you to share this wonderful perspective with people around you :slight_smile:


Thanks Marcela for sharing your story! I’m all smiles. 13 people is a lot as well! Great résult!

I had recently seen Debbie’s post about the 2024 GTS brochure, but had no reason to need it until this morning. Last weekend a group of folks from our town met to start a homesteading group - share knowledge, how to, and best practices. Today I’m typing up a list of potential topics people might want to learn about and it occurred to me that I should definitely add in landracing. I think it would probably be very much aligned with what others want to do because they understand the idea of growing seeds from nearby farms because they’re doing well Right Here. And we’re going to have a seed swap at our next meeting next month, so I’ll get to share some of our homegrown tomato blends, and I can also sneak in the landrace idea by discussing the introduction of diversity for stronger genetics > healthier plants > more resistant to pests/cold/hot/dry/wet and so on.

Yes exactly! I think this homesteading group would be very open to it. Especially since it sounds like a lot of them are new-ish to gardening. I’ll indoctrinate them while they don’t think they know any better. :joy:

That’s a good way to put it. I’ll do my best to remember how you phrased it.

Everything you talked about is really inspiring! :heart: And with this in particular, I absolutely agree. I’m looking forward to helping people learn by showing them new or different ways to do things. The facilitator of our group indicated that I will probably need to give presentations to the group, which I’m nervous about because I’m shy, but I can perform for the good of the future of food and to build Community, I guess. :sweat_smile:


Attending my local seed swap next sunday, I find what you say very encouraging!!! :slight_smile: gives me ideas of how to set the table to make sure the idea spreads:

  • joseph’s book with a few diversified mixes in the forefront
  • loads of more usual strains behind
    So they will have the choice, and will get an understanding. Thanks :slight_smile:

Insights that I got from my presentation and some topics that hooked people included:

-taking off the burden of needing to isolate plants to be able to collect own seeds (many people don’t do it because of this huge burdensome belief)
-shift of perspective that saving seeds from naturally occurring hybrids is actually a great thing and a valuable resource

-change in the belief that hybrids are bad and that you cannot save seeds from them (I shared which commercial hybrids would not be so good because of the male sterility)

-talking about heirlooms in a respectful way is a good start for people who are loyal to them to start changing perspective - I shared how I believe that most people are attached to heirlooms because they survived the post-war hunger thanks to them, and see them as holy seeds… while heirlooms were also hybrids at one point in the past, and then after the 2nd world war people had a deep trauma of purity which they projected on their seeds and gardening practices…which was also largely promoted by the industry wanting to sell more poisons to destroy “enemies” in the gardens and fields to keep the seeds and crops “pure”

-I gave a lot of comparisons between people, plants and animals… and genetic anomalies which occur in all species due to purity of race, keeping pure breed dogs, etc. The same applies to plants, it is just less visible at first.

-talking about growing potatoes from true seeds, breeding carrots that can out compete weeds, promiscuous plants, wild tomatoes, etc. There were many interesting topics during 2 hours :slight_smile:


I believe struggling heirlooms could be revitalised once localized modern landraces are a fact.
Once you have a weather resistant, plague résistant modern landrace and slowly introduce those traits into the heirloom while reselecting for the heirloom it’s traits , mght upgrade some without changing their characteristics.

It’s a symbioitic relationship in that way. We need them, they need us. As économies flatline, more people will turn away from hobbying àround struggling heirlooms, and grow whatever works…


Yes, it makes sense. It can be a mutually beneficial for both heirlooms and modern landraces. :slight_smile:

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Perfect summary of reality.


as Marcela I introduce the subject in a discussion by comparing with animal race. When you see that a Carlin dog, does not manage to breathe well, does not know how to swim and catches all the diseases of the world with a life expectancy of less than 10 years one can wonder if it is not torture to support this kind of degenerated animal. A batard dog is stronger and with a normal life span, that everyone can not deny and already noticed, so it is an argument that was convincing.
However you are right Hugo, the breeds in difficulty must and are already revitalized by inputs of external genes. A farmer in my family who raises sheep for a calling cheese, told me that the breed he has to use to provide the milk is pure but that the genetic centers occasionally introduce genetics of other breed but in very small proportion. Enough not to lead to a degenerate race, but not too much to keep in uniformity. A kind of balance that makes that there are always some black lambs that appear from time to time.


My neighbor mixes up all the cow varieties, he hates if i say they’re beautiful. “Oui cést les blue et gris.” The veterinaire came to take blood for tests, they were all with their heads in the metal frames eating hay. I had forgotten my camera! Such beauties.
The other farmers laugh at him, because he doen’t have superheavy Charolais. But he fits double on a hectare and says, i get subsidy per beast and i do have wilder cows which can have their calves without veterinaire and look after them. He doesn’t keep his hedges. Everybody hates him for not being propre comme il faut, but we burn fallen wood frome the hedges.
People are crazy. Good sunday!

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