Seed savers in Lithuania began gathering for seed-exchanges and work on the issues of preservation of cultural plant diversity a little over 10 years ago. The seed-savers in Lithuania exist as a non-formal movement as a part of local Natural Agriculture ("Gamtinė Žemdirbystė") movement that was founded around 10 years ago by Saulius Jasionis.
Eversince that time annual seed-savers meetings took place. A handful of dedicated seed-savers were reproducing seeds year by year, searching for old varieties but not many new people were joining the seed-savers ranks and helping to maintain diversity of heritage crops. Thus a need to spread the seed-saving practice among Lithuanian amateur gardeners and "Gamtinė žemdirbystė" followers was noticed. Additionally followers of "Gamtinė Žemdirbystė" movement and many other amateur gardeners were dissatisfied with the seed legislation in Lithuania prohibiting exchange of unregistered variety of seeds.
In late 2017 seed-savers began discussions with authorities on possibilities to permit seed-exchange and marketing in small amounts. After numerous meetings and calls, authorities agreed to permit seed exchange. In 2019 a vegetable seed act was changed permitting a public seed-exchange for unregistered varieties (still seed-savers had to meet certain conditions such as registration and the amounts were limited).
"Gamtinės Žemdirbystės Institutas" (Natural Agriculture Institute), is a non governmental organisation that was established 5 years ago (in 2015) with a goal of preserving cultural plant diversity as well as investigating permaculture systems suitable for cold temperate climate. The work of organisation is currently significantly focused on collection and reproduction of old fruit tree varieties in Lithuania as well as on the activities of "Growing seed savers" project, in which fruitfull cooperation with partners from the Baltic states and Denmark has lead to preparation of teaching material and raising awareness on the topics of preservation of old plant varieties, seed saving and issues of seed legislation, as well as making it accessible to the broader public.
It can be said that "Growing seed savers" project "arrived just in time" and that the awareness on the need to preserve remaining cultural plant diversity in Lithuania is being at least partially raised. We hope that more and more growers will understand the importance of seed-saving and become seed-savers.
Project ‘Growing Seed Savers’ started in autumn 2018 and ends in spring 2020. It is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ program NORDPLUS.You can contact "Gamtinės žemdirbystės institutas" via this e-mail.