Tag Archives: Mediamatic

Of Seeds, Stories,Swapping, and Soup

Zaad Ruilen

On Your Marks, Get Set, Swap

(c) A. Doherty 2012

Well, what a week it’s been. I have been busy with a lot of networking, about which I hope to be able to bring you more later. Today, I am on my way to the Food Guerrilla event in Rotterdam, which I

The week started (or last week ended, depending on your viewpoint) with the Seedy Penpals, Cityplot and Mediamatic Zaadruilen (Seed exchange) on Sunday. The day started out bright and crisp, a great day for a seed swap. We headed over to the Mediamatic Fabriek with bags full of seeds, and the hope that there would be enough variety to share.

Unfortunately for us, the heavens opened just before 2.00, when the swap was due to start. Although I was inside, and couldn’t see out, I knew from the sound that it was raining cats, dogs, and probably a few farm animals as well. I am sure that this put many people off, as the mediamatic events are usually very well attended. Nevertheless, quite a few intrepid people did make it, and brought a lot of seed to boot. It was great to make connections wit more people who want to grow and share seed, and to find out about all the initiatives that there are in town, or that people want to get off the ground.

ASEED were also there. They brought seeds, and they also gave a workshop on seed saving, and the importance of maintaining plant varieties that are being lost as we see more and more of our plants (particularly food) being grown from fewer varieties that are bred to look good or last well on our supermarket shelves, or be resistant to pesticides etc.

This issue is becoming increasingly more important as we see more and more laws passed globally that try to restrict the distribution of seeds, and concentrate it in the hands of a few companies, instead of using traditional methods of saving a portion of the harvest to grow the following year. This weekend in Vienna,  a group of NGOs are getting together to discuss proposed legislation in the EU that would become even more restrictive on the sharing and saving of seeds, and the issue of owning “intellectual property” of seed varieties and genetic strains. I think that it is important to push back about this, for many reasons, and look forward to being able to do a small part in the push to amend this legislation, and make it possible to continue to grow, save and share my own seed.

People came with their own seeds, some that they had bought, but many that they had saved themselves. I took a lot of seeds, but my favourite was the runner beans that I have grown from seeds that my Dad gave me. I love to share that story, and many people were interested, and took some for themselves. I also learned a few of the stories that other people told along with their seeds too.

Making the Rangoli

Seeds of Something Beautiful

As we were doing the event along with Mediamatic, we also included an artistic element. We made a beautiful rangoli from pulses. A rangoli are colourful Indian artworks usually made from seeds, coloured flour, rice or sand traditionally made by Hindu women to use as decorations at festivals. I also learned that the form has been used to plot out a farm and the rotation system, so that you had a visual representation of what should be planted where, that is easy to follow, even if you may not read. I think that is a lovely idea.

Rangoli made with pulses

Edible Art

Since they were edibles, we thought that we would share them with the people who came to swap seeds, so we made a Souper Seed Mix. We gave packages with beans or lentils, that we used in the rangoli, plus a spice mix. Obviously, there was no way that I was going to waste all that good seed. I figured that people could then choose to plant them, or eat them.

I tested this recipie first, using home grown Harlequin potatoes, but you could use any firm-fleshed potato. It turned out that the potato was the only seed of all of the ingredients that I used that did not appear at the swap, but I expect that this was more due to the time of year.

So, here is my Rangoli Soup. A few people from the swap have already tried this, and the reports have been good so far. It seems it id good, with or without the art!

Rangoli Soup

Seeds to Form a Souper Mix

Recipe: Rangoli Soup

Ingredients:

100 g dried beans, split peas or lentils

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp mustard seed

½ tsp nigella seed

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp tomato puree

Pinch chilli powder

1 clove garlic, grated

3cm piece root ginger, grated

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 bay leaves

2 sticks celery, diced

350 g potatoes, diced

2 carrots, sliced

250 g pumpkin, diced

300 ml vegetable stock

1 tin crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper

Chopped parsley or coriander

Method:

Soak the beans in cold water overnight. If you have lentils or split peas, you skip the soaking stage. In fresh, cold water, bring the beans up to the boil and then simmer until tender. This may take between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on the type of bean. Once they are cooked, drain the water off, and set aside.

In a dry pan, toast the spice seed mix, until they brown, and the mustard seeds start to pop. Grind them to a powder.

Make a paste with the seed powder, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic, ginger and tomato purée.

Gently fry the onion,celery and bay leaves in the oil, until they are translucent.

Add the paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well so that the spices don’t burn.

Add the carrot, potato, pumpkin, the cooked beans,  stock and tomatoes, and cook until the vegetables are tender – about 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some chopped coriander or parsley sprinkled over the top.

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Seeds Just Got Real!

I am very happy to announce that Seedy Penpals is going to be live at the Mediamatic Ruilen (exchange) exhibition.

This Sunday, 4th November, I shall be there in partnership with the wonderful Cityplot crew, with a load of edible and beautiful seeds that you can grow to eat, admire, save and share.

Doors open at 2.00 pm, and you can come and swap seeds of any kind, share growing tips, and tell us your growing stories, seed folklore or something lovely about your plot, whether it is a balcony, moestuin, or a field!

Why Swap Seed?

  • We all buy fewer packets of seeds, but can grow more varieties of plants
  • Less seed is wasted if you cannot plant it all in time
  • Sharing seeds allows us to preserve more varieties, especially heritage types. Recent developments in the Dutch and international seed business have led to a concentrated market and, with it, a diminished variety of available seeds.
  • We can help create wildlife habitats at home, allowing us to benefit from the beauty of flora and fauna sharing our spaces, and allowing these plants and animals to continue to thrive.
  • Fresh food and flowers will last longer for you.

What to Exchange?

  • Seeds will be exchanged on a “bring some, take some” basis. You will need to label your seeds with the common name (e.g. runner beans, or aster) and the variety if you know it (e.g. “Scarlet Emperor” or “Ostrich Plume”). It is also important to mark whether the seeds are Open Pollinated or F1 hybrids, so that others will know if they can save the seeds and get a true plant next time. If you are unsure, then we will be there to help, just bring along the original seed packet if you can
  • You can exchange flowers or edibles, and even tubers, bulbs and plug plants if you have any (although we know it is a bit late in the year for many plugs)
  • You are also encouraged to share growing tips about the seeds – do they like shade, or full sun; do they like a lot of water, or will the Amsterdam sky provide you with all they need; when to plant them?
  • We also have the facility to share stories about your growing space, folklore about your seeds, photos of your plants (if you can bring them digitally, or e-mail them to me), so you can bring them along, or write them down on the day if you like. We will also accept stories and photos in exchange for seed, if you don’t have any spare seed.
  • We will be creating a beautiful Rangoli with a few of each ruilers’ seeds throughout the day.
  • There will also be a Souper Seed Mix available for you to take away. You get to choose if you would prefer to grow these, or cook with them

More Information

The seed swap will take place on November 4, from 14.00 to 17.00 in Mediamatic Fabriek, VOC-kade 10. You can trade free entrance for a chore like an hour of barkeeping or half an hour of vacuum cleaning. Otherwise it’s € 5,- for a membership including free entrance for a month. Children half price.

The Mediamatic Fabriek is behind the Parool building in Amsterdam Oostelijke Eilanden.

The seed swap is part of Ruilen, an exhibition, events and online marketplace from October 20 till January 6. Open from Wednesday through Sunday, from 13.00 to 18.00.

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