Lebende Samen is a non-profit organisation committed to supporting and funding research projects on organic plant breeding for the Mediterranean region.
It was founded in 2016 by Stefan Doeblin, Andreas Biesantz, Susanna Küffer-Heer, and Patrick Neumann.
Stefan Doeblin is also founder of two comercial seed companies located in Portugal and Spain: Sementes Vivas and Semillas Vivas.
The association is registered in Darmstadt, Germany. Most of its funds come from private donators, public institutions and members’ contributions. Most founders are from Germany so far, but Lebende Samen is currently trying to expand its fundraising to the countries where it focuses its work: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, and others.
The development of organic and biodynamic seeds is expensive and time-consuming. Operating in a market where the organic movement is still in the beginning, most organic seed companies do not have the means to finance their own R&D.
The non-profit organisation Lebende Samen was born from the necessity to separate the research and funding of plant breeding projects from the commercial multiplying of seeds done at both companies Sementes Vivas and Semillas Vivas.
The association's mission is to contribute to organic plant breeding by funding projects that develop varieties adapted to the climate and soil conditions of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean area.
Through its work, Lebende Samen also aims at raising public awareness about the fact that today in Europe only 20% of organic food come from organic seed. This is related to a lack of diversity and availability of professional seed varieties in the organic market, leading most organic farmers to use conventional seeds.
All the projects supported by the association focus on plant breeding of open-pollinated varieties, following a sustainable approach that aims to create more diversity, support food sovereignty and revive the use of traditional varieties adapted to local conditions of culture.
Projects are all built jointly with local institutions like Portuguese seed banks, universities and local plant breeders, with the aim to set up a pilar of knowledge sharing.
Trial fields are located in Idanha a Nova, Braga and Coimbra in Portugal as well as in Extremadura in Spain. In 2021 Lebende Samen is going to start legumes trials in Morocco with ICARDA and INRA.
Recently, Lebende Samen has started a series of seed talks with people working with seeds in their everyday life and sharing their experiences regarding human nutrition, soil and plant health.
Anyone wishing to support Lebende Samen’s work can become a member and make a donation. Most of its actual members are not seed savers, they just commit to support and contribute to improving the cultural organic heritage of the Mediterranean region.
With the donations and/or membership fees, the association initiates and finances research projects in the Mediterranean that aim at breeding nutrient rich, tasty and resistant organic plants for healthy yields – in harmony with nature.
Another way to help the association fostering its impacts is to spread the word and become aware of the necessity to buy fruits and vegetables made from open-pollinated varieties of 100% organic seeds.
To keep you informed about the work and projects of the association, you can also subscribe to its newsletter.