originally published at Artivist.gr
The Peliti Community was founded thanks to the personal need of Mr. Panagiotis Sainatoudis and has been embraced by many people throughout Greece and beyond. It is a non-profit organization which is engaged in the collection, preservation and dissemination of local varieties.
Pelit in Pontic Greek language (a dialect originally spoken in the Pontus area) means oak. The name of the Community, Peliti, is inspired by this tree and its trademark illustrates an oak with its roots, surrounded by dancing men and women holding hands. The logo of Peliti could not therefore express in a better way the dream of the main organizer of the community, Mr. Saitanoudis in 1995. The trademark expresses the collective effort of Mr. Saitanoudis and his team over the last 15 years for the collection, preservation and dissemination of local varieties. An effort that is particularly significant since the introduction of the massive industrialization and globalization of agricultural production puts in danger varieties that are grown in Greece for centuries. These varieties perform better in the Greek territory with its particular characteristics and the prevailing local climate and they represent the Greek culture and Greek identity. The collection, preservation and dissemination of the seeds among the local farmers constitutes the most effective effort towards the conservation of Greek biodiversity, which is attacked by increasing imports of foreign varieties that are supposedly more resistant.
The work of Peliti is holistic; this means that the community is trying to achieve its objectives in a spherical manner by organizing a large spectrum of activities and events. Since 1995, Peliti has been organizing expeditions to the mainland and the islands of Greece to collect and gather as many varieties of seeds as possible and has supplied more than 80,000 (!) amateur and professional farmers with seeds or plants. The community of Peliti gives also the opportunity to farmers to purchase small quantities of free unimproved varieties. Since March 1999 the community has been organizing the “National Festival of Exchanging Local Varieties”. The aims of the festival are the dissemination of traditional varieties to as many growers as possible, the share of knowledge and experiences, as well as the realization of the true concept of exchange, which is the exchange without the intermediation of money! Already since 2002, well before the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008 and the collapse of the intangible financial system, Peliti started the “Nationwide Network of Exchange of Goods and Services without Money” to bring together people and enhance their cooperation without the use of money.
The work of Peliti community is of great importance and scale. It is enough to mention the effort made by the community to record the wide network of farmers of traditional varieties found throughout Greece, the “local farms”. It is also important to mention that the effort of the community is embraced by people throughout the Greek territory. These people have created local Peliti groups in different parts of the country, which aim to organize activities and events locally. Moreover, the Peliti community has issued a series of publications containing information and news on its actions such as the “manual for the collection and preservation of local varieties”, the yearly magazine on “local farms” and the booklet “from hand to hand and heart to heart” that describes the actions of the community for an inclusive economic activity.*
Nikos Kazantzakis in “Saviors of God” urges us: “Love responsibility. Say: “It is my duty, and mine alone, to save the earth. If it is not saved, then I alone am to blame”. People who volunteer in Peliti, the organizers, the amateurs, the professional growers of traditional varieties and all those people and local communities that have embraced the community’s effort practice their responsibility towards themselves and the generations to come. You?
*The information on the above article was drawn from the well informed and comprehensive website of Peliti community. For more information visitwww.peliti.gr
Zoi Volioti – Artivist Team