Heritage Roundup

Rebsie Fairholm at Daughter of the Soil has a long post about Association Kokopelli, the French outfit fined for unfair practices because they dared to sell seeds of varieties that their customers actually wanted.1 Rebsie gives some of the history and some of the delights of Association Kokopelli, and suggests various ways in which people can support them. She also raises the spectre of Kokopelli going under again, and of the many varieties they have and make available going extinct.

People who have varieties from Kokopelli can certainly swap them, as suggested. But I’m wondering about a couple of other ideas. First, is there any chance that the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard would accept a black box safety duplicate collection from Kokopelli? Possibly not. But then, what is the extent of duplication between Kokopelli’s list and the list of Seed Savers Exchange. I have no idea. But I do know that SSE’s list is fully computerized, and I would hope that Kokopelli’s is too. First order of business, then, would be to ensure that SSE has all of Kokopelli’s material.

Of course, names are a tad tricky. They always are. Rebsie asks, “Where else but Association Kokopelli can you get Venus’ Nipple tomatoes?”. That depends. Might Venus’ Nipple be the same as Teton de Venus? I doubt it, but you never know. Here in Italy a breast is often una tetta. Not too far from that to Teton. Or is it? Ot it might be plain Venus, which in Europe is available at Vent Marin. And I found that through Tomodori, which seems to aggregate tomato seed offerings from around the web.

One of the beauties of SSE is that seed savers and gardeners can use the autumn catalog to order direct from one another. What makes this possible is the size of the catchment area. The vast majority of SSE members live in the US, and they can use US postage stamps to send out their seeds. That makes life very simple. Europe needs a postal union to make a continent-wide exchange workable. Until then, all we can do is encourage gardeners and seed savers everywhere to swap varieties, keep good records and, in Rebsie’s words:

Sow your heirloom seeds with pride and raise two fingers to the EU seed legislation and the big bloated corporations who feed off it.

P.S. In other heirloom news, Chef Robert shares his love of raddichio, while Rebecca Pastor continues Becky and the Beanstock, an examination of heirloom beans.

P:P:S: Olives and Artichokes, a blog by some transplants from Wales to southwest France, also comments on Kokopelli.

  1. In some small way I prompted the post, which is nice. []

One Reply to “Heritage Roundup”

  1. I don’t suppose you get to talk about breasts on your blog very often but anyway, when I ordered Venus’ Nipple from Kokopelli I got a French seed packet labelled as Teton de Venus so I assume they are the same. Whether they’re the same as Venus I’ve no idea. Confusion is always going to happen when seeds are passed around informally (which is one reason the cursed Common Catalogue was thought necessary in the first place).

    Thanks for giving me another mention, and yes it certainly was you who prompted me to write about Kokopelli because I first saw the news about the fine right here.

    I hope if the worst came to the worst that SSE and other likeminded organisations would step in and help secure the collection as you suggest. But even if SSE already has a lot of varieties in safekeeping, Kokopelli’s seeds are presumably adapted to European growing conditions over many years and couldn’t simply be replaced by equivalent seeds from the US.

    Another concern is the importance of availability. The reality is that most people just want to nip down the garden centre and grab a few seed packets and not worry about it too much. If Kokopelli stopped selling these seeds then it would take a lot more effort to get hold of them.

    Thanks for taking up the gauntlet.

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