I travelled with the seedbank team by boat to a Lahu village in Chiang Rai province last Sunday and Monday to help out with a seed exchange between Lahu and Akha farmers. It was a thrill to see them exchanging food plant seeds and having a lively exchange between themselves and with our ECHO Asia and UHDP staff. Now we have lots of new seeds to add to our seedbank inventory (yay!).
The boat ride from Thaton to Panasawan village was beautiful…is this really work?? Lue’s grin says otherwise…
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Dusty brown road – the hot season is upon us. The Gok river is a small but steady.
Lue: I’m THIS happy to be here! (We’d just finished interviewing a villager and found out she grows over 20 different food plants in her tiny garden)
Wah and I preparing ferns picked along the river for dinner the night before the seed swap. It was yam-ed: boiled and then lime, there garlic, crushed peanuts and chili peppers added. De-LUSH-cious.
Vinny and Lue hanging out in the kitchen. Vinny had lived in the village for a month previously, interviewing farmers and gathering seeds for ECHO Asia’s seedbank.
ECHO Asia’s director Rick Burnette attempting to give a stern face before plowing into a yum-tastic meal.
Day of the seed swap: A Lahu language songbook decorated with stickers.
Wah and Jamlong (right, UHDP’s extension director) kicking off the activities.
Jamlong translating Rick’s talk about seed saving into Lahu. The Lahu and Akha farmers came from four villages in the surrounding area.
These hands produce food.
Participating farmers collected seeds of food plants like pumpkin, beans, melons, job’s tears and lots of rice. UHDP and ECHO Asia staff interviewed each of them, cataloguing what they brought and the special characteristics of each seed. Then the farmers mingled and checked out each other’s seeds…funnily enough, hardly anybody took rice seeds but a purple bush bean seed disappeared quickly! And I totally missed snapping the exchange itself because it was so much fun to eavesdrop and watch everyone.