Cercatori di semi: Rome's project in defence of biodiversity

Dec 9 2020, 12:28 | by Michela Becchi
The "Save Nature" bags are a perfect gift idea for the Christmas holidays, but Seed Seekers are constantly engaged in many other activities.

Cercatori di semi objective

Defend biodiversity, protect it, but above all promote it, making its importance known to everyone, starting with the youngest. It is from this idea that the Cercatori di Semi project was born, engaged in the recovery of the oldest local ecotypes, preserved in a seed bank that collects hundreds of Italian and foreign varieties. But the initiative created by Luana Oliva and other passionate young people in an estate in Ardea, just outside Rome, goes far beyond the "simple" cultivation of seeds. In fact, the primary objective is to educate others, starting from the youngest: for this reason, seed seekers go to schools to organize workshops and games for children, teaching them how to sow using recycled materials.

The workshops in schools

Sustainability is at the heart of every project: in 2018 Formavaso was created, a tool to create jars made of recycled paper, ready for sowing, previously designed for adults and then adapted into a smaller, manageable version for children, distributed free of charge in schools. The pot is then transplanted at home or - if there is one - in the school garden, inserting it directly into the soil to avoid the risk of breaking the plant. In the case of the presence of a school garden, Cercatori di semi also provides pallets and, for institutions with more economic difficulties, also soil and everything necessary (according to the possibilities of the moment). Currently, the project serves 50 schools for a total of about 15,000 children: each school can request online the package with the info material, which includes a practical guide for sowing, transplanting and tricks to overcome any obstacles.

Free guides and bee saving project

In short, a zero-cost spread operation, not only for students: on the website its possible download detailed guides, for free, rich in information on the cultivation and production of seeds. There is the guide on sowing, on the preservation of ancient seeds, the guide on the discovery of herbaceous seeds, on pumpkin seeds and the guide on the bee saving Project Melissa, born in 2015 with the objective of distributing seeds of Vedovina Maggiore (Cephalaria Transsylvanica), both in purity and in mixture with other spontaneous blooms, in order to provide a real help to at-risk insects. By sending an email it is possible to request other guides on a particular species, which will be written ad hoc. For better times, there are also events and fairs where you can talk directly with the searchers, all collected in a calendar of events in the News section of the site well done and intuitive: here, you will also find stories and recipes with varieties of simple and tasty old seeds.

Seeds purchase and animals adoption

There is also the Shop section, where you can buy the products of the Cercatori, cultivated with the rotation method, using uncultivated lands as pasture for the animals saved by the members. In fact, for a long time animals from clandestine or abandoned farms, mainly cattle and equines, have found a safe haven within the estate, where they have been put in order with passports that prevent their slaughter. Back to the seeds: there are about 500 varieties cultivated biologically, some over a long distance (about 500 metres from each other) to avoid hybridization. Among the various gardens on the ground, there is a special one dedicated to the rarest species that need selection interventions. Corn, sunflowers, lettuce, beets, turnips and radishes, ancient pumpkins: there are many options to purchase, among which stand out also original collections such as the "Rarissime dal mondo", with the most particular species, and “Antiche Tradizioni”, “le cenerentole da salvare”.

The Salva Natura bags

Fresh novelty - and perfect gift idea for Christmas or other occasions - the “Salva Natura" bags, with the seeds of different vegetable gardens: there is the bag “Il primo orto non si scorda mai”, with the seeds easier to grow, "Orto in balcone" for those who do not have a garden, "Colossus" with the largest plants, "Capsicumania" for lovers of chillies, "Caravaggio" (the Italian excellences), "Native Heritage" with Native American varieties, "Pomodorto" and "Il Collezionista", which contains the rarest horticultural in the world. All stored in jute bags, sold together with the regenerable clay desiccant designed to preserve the seeds in the best possible way. The proceeds will be used to support the many projects in defense of biodiversity, but those who wish to contribute can also do so in the section dedicated to donations, thus helping this courageous group of enthusiasts in the realization of all activities.


a cura di Michela Becchi

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