The Latvian Permaculture Association is a volunteer run organisation, founded to advance sustainable and regenerative practices in Latvia. It operates as an umbrella organisation for urban and rural inhabitants contributing to the permaculture movement in Latvia.
The association was founded in 2011 by 5 permaculture activists: Artūrs Polis, Ilze Mežniece, Guntra Aistara, Kaspars Strazdiņš and Gundega Jēkabsone. It is currently run by a board of 5 persons : Elgars Felcis (Chairperson), Artūrs Polis, Ilze Mežniece, Thomas Kruger and Daina Mūrniece; and gathers around 130 members of different levels of activity (from event organizers to observers), whose member fees cover administrative costs.
The Latvian Permaculture Association has been managing and participating in several European and national level projects, as well as collaborating with international permaculture and ecovillage networks.
The main purposes of the LPA are to spread knowledge and ideas about permaculture in Latvia, to support activities for strengthening sustainable lifestyle and to increase self-sustainability of Latvian society, especially promoting food independence and seed freedom.
This is achieved by organizing the Latvian Permaculture Festival every year (for 7 years), seed-exchange events (for 9 years) as well as smaller seminars and workshops on sustainable every-day strategies.
The LPA also coordinates a Permaculture Design Courses and a Permaculture Diploma Courses in collaboration with international permaculture teachers.
The association takes part to several networking activities strengthening its commitment towards sustainable solutions, like its participation to the network “OFF-GRID: Renewable Energy DIY for rural development”, its contribution to the building of the network “Growing Seed-Savers” and the creation of the campaign “Dzīvā Zeme” (Living Land), which aims to promote sustainable farming practices in Latvia, educate society and farmers on plant protection products, as well as strengthen the organization's ability to have an impact.
The Latvian Permaculture Association also endorses an advocacy mission, by inviting government representatives to participate in discussions related to seed legislation and use of pesticides.
Recently, in the framework of the European strategy on agriculture and food “From Farm to Fork”, the association made proposals that were included in the official document by the Ministry of Agriculture stating the position of Latvia. Discussions are now going on with the Ministry, regarding extra protection and free movement possibilities of heritage agricultural seeds and plants.
Eventually, the LPA is committed to the protection, enhancement and dissemination of heritage plants – any plant reproductive materials.
It is creating a network of seed-growers and collectors in order to save forgotten and almost extinct heritage plants that have been locally grown for at least 30 years and that are not registered in the official catalog.
Those seed savers are experienced gardeners or hobby gardeners who can be trained during seed saving seminars organized in the framework of the international project “Growing Seed Savers”.
The Latvian Permaculture Association doesn’t maintain its own seed collection but is gathering information on plant heritage varieties collected and maintained by its members, on a database that also contains information about the necessity to save genetic ressources.
More than 150 local heritage plant varieties were identified so far. All of them are grown organically by the LPA members.
The association's objective for the future would be to train and work with experienced caretakers for each specific variety in order to ensure the availability of a broad range of seeds, and to support the possibility to finally sell and buy seeds from non registered varieties in Latvia.
The Latvian Permaculture Association do not conduct any commercial activities. Seeds are never to sell but to exchange during annual seed events.
To become a member, you are invited to fill in an application form with basic personal information and a short statement about your education, occupation, motivations, expectations and any personal inputs that would benefit the activities of the organisation.
A member would have to be a seed saver, committed to participate in seed-exchange events, share seeds and exchange them with other members to grow it in their own garden and preferably share next year.
The Latvian Permaculture Association also offer people to become regional seed ambassadors, who organize themselves seed exchange events and other educational activities for the seed-savers in their own region.
Furthermore, in the future, it is planned to have educated and experienced seed-savers able to take care of specific varieties.
Volunteering is always welcome. Usually, volunteers are found by the event organizers after a call for help.
Donations are possible as well - the most popular way of donating is by volunteering, otherwise in the website the association's bank account is indicated where the payment should be marked as a donation for a specific purpose or simply a donation.
Such donations do not provide a tax privilege for legal entities yet.