On May 10, Bingenheimer Saatgut AG and Kultursaat e.V. had an open invitation for Seed Day in Bingenheim. Visitors were given a behind-the-scenes look of the organic seed operation – from quality control in seed diagnostics to seed processing and bagging & filling for distribution − all areas were open for viewing.
A busy day for organic vegetables
Several hundred people came to Bingenheim in Hesse on that Saturday in May to tour the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG. Seed Day took place on the same day as the annual Seedling Day sponsored by the Lebensgemeinschaft Bingenheim (life community Binghenheim). This organization assists people with mental disabilities and provides a variety of living and care settings. The collaborative event ensured a diverse program with guided tours, sales of seedlings and seed, ceramic ware, and rose plants by Bioland-Rosenschule Ruf (rose nursery).
Many varieties in your own garden
A special highlight of Seed Day were the presentations by gardening author Andrea Heistinger of Austria, who is known for her publication of numerous organic gardening books:
In her presentations, Andrea Heistinger talked about diversity in vegetable varieties in the garden and reported on her own experiences with growing herbs and vegetables. According to Heistinger, when produce is grown correctly, the quality of ripe and freshly-harvested vegetables from your own garden far exceeds that of any store-bought produce. The audience asked many questions and actively participated by sharing their own gardening experiences.
Threshing, sifting, calibrating at Bingenheimer Saatgut
During their tour of Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, visitors were amazed at all the equipment and processes used in seed preparation to ensure the high quality of the organic seeds from Bingenheim. In the hall for seed processing, they saw threshing machines, brushing machines, belt selectors, sorters and indented cylinder separators, table separators, calibrating machines, photocell selectors, as well as a filling and bagging station for product in bulk, and various sifters and other tools.
During her tour for private gardeners, Judith Jäger, responsible for marketing at Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, explained that depending on type, variety, and seed condition, each seed lot is processed in a customized manner. Threshing, rubbing, sifting, calibrating, and warm water processing are all steps in seed preparation that may be employed. Before seeds are ready for sale, the seed diagnostics department checks the germinating capability and power of the seed lots and makes sure that any seed-borne diseases can be ruled out.
Seed quality for commercial agriculture
If seed-borne diseases are detected, the seed diagnostics team investigates if biological countermeasures can be taken to treat the disease or if selling the seed is not longer possible. One possible countermeasure to fight seed-borne diseases is warm water processing. Bingenheimer Saatgut AG has its own system complete with re-drying capability for this process.
Klaus Kopp and Jörg Schlösser, consultants for commercial growers at Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, led the professional gardeners through the company and answered all questions that arise during the everyday tasks of a vegetable grower.
Organic plant cultivation as the core of organic agriculture
Kultursaat e.V., a non-profit association of organic growers in Germany, also has its offices in Bingenheim and participated in Seed Day activities on the grounds of Bingenheimer Saatgut AG. Kultursaat organizes and finances the biologically-dynamic cultivation of vegetables. Christine Nagel, an employee of Kultursaat, explained that growers are on-farm at approx. 20 sites, meaning that they are embedded in commercial organic farm operations, and actively involved in the development of new non-hybrid varieties of vegetables. By now, more than 50 new cultivars have been approved by the Bundessortenamt (Federal Plant Variety Agency) the federal testing and admission authority in Germany.
Sowing, harvesting, and enjoying the results yourself
Visitors not only enjoyed the coffee, cake and grilled organic meats provided, but also participated in hands-on activities. The grower quiz and the free sowing drive were populare sites on the grounds of Bingenheimer Saatgut AG and the Lebensgemeinschaft Bingenheim (life community Bingenheim).
Petra Boie, one of the managing partners of Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, was pleased with the results of Seed Day: “We were able to make new contacts and give something to every visitor – new ideas, exciting insights into seed work, and, of course, something material for the garden! We hope to be able to sponsor Seed Day again next year and get the same positive reception.”