Kick-Off Meeting

In late October 2014, the Agri/Cultures project collaborated with the biodiverSEEDy project and had a joint kick-off meeting involving both the research teams and members of the projects’ expert advisory committees. The meeting was held in a beautiful 15th century farmhouse near Vilanova called Masia Notari.

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The extensive farmhouse site offered various locations for our meeting activities, which involved not just powerpoint presentations but also more interactive and dynamic exercises such as world cafes, social thermometers, cartography drafting and collaborative story building.

IMG_2971The program and location for activities changed over time as new themes and issues emerged through the discussions so we worked hard to maintain an updated version for our participants in the farmhouse courtyard.

The kick-off meeting was extremely useful as a way for the research team to begin planning and preparing for the work ahead with help from the project’s expert advisors.

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Field trip to the cooperative Joaquin Costa in Binefar

As part of our Kick-off meeting in October 2014, the Agri/Cultures project research team and advisors visited the farmer cooperative Joaquin Costa in Binefar.Visita Joaquin Costa

During this visit we had the opportunity to talk with members of the cooperative about their organisation, their breeding programs in maize and their relationship to GMOs. We also had the opportunity to see some of the field trials taking place as well as the harvesting process.IMG_2961 camps panís

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Through our conversations it became clear what a significant role water plays in the decision-making of farmers, both in terms of the timing of their planting but also in the selection of their varieties. We also learned about how difficult and resource intensive it was to monitor for potential mixing between GM and non-GM crops and to maintain separation between them.

IMG_2952 Additionally, we observed how important yield was as a breeding criteria and heard about the rapid turnover in the varieties that were available to farmers from year to year.

A surprising issue that got a lot of attention during the field trip was the apparent presence of Teosinte (the wild ancestor of maize, which is native to Latin America) in the fields of Spanish farmers and the difficulty farmers were having with its removal and control.

Our visit to the cooperative sparked significant media interest and many of the project’s researchers and advisors were interviewed for radio programs and newspapers during our visit.

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