Maatiainen is a landrace association for the conservation of Finland's traditional plants, animals and landscapes.
It was created in 1989 and presently has over 1700 members. Maantiainen in Finnish means landrace or heirloom varieties, referring at genetic resources of a specific land, that have not been subjected to systematic breeding.
The main purpose of the association is to conserve and promote traditional varieties of ornamental and useful plants, local breeds of domestic animals as well as the cultural landscapes' diversity of Finland.
Every year the Maatiainen association chooses a Finnish traditional landscape, plant and animal as its symbols, in order to bring the need of their preservation and restoration, to the public.
Seed saving is an important part of Maatiainen’s action, and the association regularly organizes seed distribution.
All members of the association collect seeds of old landraces, from ornamental, useful and wild plants. When they gather, they exchange their productions, giving one batch of seeds against seed packets.
The seed lots collected by Maantiainen on these occasions, are sent to a packaging centre before entering the lists of seeds to sold, drawn up by the association every year.
The association's work is precious for the country. It helped, for example, in rescuing a traditional, tasty variety of turnip with good storage capacity and a strain of broad bean well adapted to Finnish conditions.
The association gives classes to unprofessional seed users with the will to train the greatest number of people willing to help protecting genetic resources. It also organizes various events and activities, on different topics related to nature's conservation and regeneration.
Many landraces were lost during the 60's and 70's when agriculture underwent drastic structural changes. Maatiainen's work is needed to better recover the value of Finland's natural heritage.
It publishes a quarterly bulletin and every year a field trip is organised both in Finland and abroad, giving the participants the opportunity to acquainting themselves with local people and their landscapes as well as with plants and animal landraces.
Maatiainen supplies seeds from old domestic crops and wild plants and publishes an annual seed list that presents the seeds and bulbs for sale.
The selections include old farm varieties and an abundance of wild plants. There are herbaceous and woody plants, useful and ornamental plants, perennials and annuals. The list also includes some seeds of newer species that are not readily available.
(Finnish version only)
Maatiainen exists primarily for Finnish seed savers able to gather and exchange seeds, and has a very local impact.
However, anyone can buy seeds from the yearly seed list of the association, available online, by filling an order form and sending it to email@example.com. Prices of seed packets range from 2 to 4.5 €. Members can enjoy cheaper prices.
There is a specific seed list, only for varieties to be transferred to maintenance cultivation. Members ordering that kind of seeds, have to send some samples of plant's seeds back to Maatiainen 3 times in the following 5 years of their order, and in the case of roots 2 times in 5 years. Doing so, seed stocks will be preserved and multiplied. Seeds for maintenance cultivation can only be ordered by mail. Seed cultivation instructions are included with the order. As soon as sufficient seeds of these specific varieties to save, are obtained, they join the general list of seeds.
To become a member, it is required to pay an annual fee of 30 €; 19 € for students and 12 € for family relatives of an actual member.
You can become a member of the association by contacting the office by letter, e-mail or phone, from Wednesday to Thursday, 12 to 18pm.
You can also become a member by paying the membership fee directly to the association's account (bank details here). In the message field, enter NEW MEMBER and your name and address, preferably also an e-mail.
Your membership will take effect once you have been accepted as a member by the Board. When joining in November-December, the membership fee also includes the following year's membership.
As a member of the association, you will receive a membership magazine and a seed list published four times a year. Each year, the first issue of the magazine contains a list of seeds. Members are also invited to numerous events in different parts of Finland and once a year, to a foreign country trip.