Seeds Journey: The Journey of Seeds
What to do if knowledge about seasonal food, traditional consumption, and the right way to store seeds disappear because the young generation don’t pay attention?
Kalaya Chermue and Yutthaphan Phiphatmongkolkul, two young generations from Akha and Paganyaw ethnic group from the north began seeing the problem. Both are new generations that have to continue their education in the city (Chiang Mai). Residing far from home changed their local eating pattern that they had been taught when they were young. They had to focus on convenience and that caused a gap in passing down knowledge of seasonal eating that they once learned from their grandfathers and grandmothers. This absence of knowledge between generations made good food culture disappear. Seasonal eating culture is rich because it responds to good health and entire environmental factors.
Kalaya and Yutthaphan therefore began studying from the beginning, which is local seeds, by working with Center for Ethnic Studies and Development, Chiang Mai University, in collecting seeds and working with farmers. When the first goal was accomplished, both wanted to continue with new goal in creating knowhow and being a bridge between the new generation and the old one because old people in the village know best how to eat and store each kind of food. They could continue their plan by bringing the new generation to learn from communities.
Because they knew that seeds created variety of food, while local people were still planting and cultivating with traditional approaches, the new generation could help increase efficiency and pass down the knowledge by building management tools for transporting local vegetables, worked with community hospitals, school, and restaurants to directly supply them with vegetables from farms. After that, the opportunity was opened for chefs form restaurants and personnels from hotels to study and invent menus form local vegetables and learn seasonal eating according to growth of local vegetables in each season.
Seed Journey is one of the teams that were selected in Youth Co: lab 2018 project and got the winner prize. After getting the prize and attending workshops for developing project, the important thing the both have learned is field studying. From focusing only on the project’s goal, there was a goal extension in building utility for local people, beginning with hearing more opinions from the people. The result was that, from the first phase that the activities were set all year according to seasons, they were adapt regarding to utility of the community. Seasonal activities were then sorted yearly, for example, processing dried bamboo shoot and cabbage activity was set to produce for needs of local restaurants.
Another thing that they learned was indicating new target group. Initially, they thought that the target of the project was only the new generation, but after the field study, they understood that the real target group was local people, especially the old, because they understood seasonal eating. This project therefore inspired the ideas of local people. Plus, there were restaurant owners that realized the importance of ingredients and were pleased to bring them into their menus, and hotel owners that understood and propose collaboration by opening a space for homestay to support location for workshops. After that, See Journey focused on creating prototype activities, collecting data and knowledge, and communicating with community to create good understanding. In 2019, Seed Journey began selling local products and is still determined in passing on knowledge to create better understanding of seasonal eating.
You can follow the journey of seeds and activities of Seed Journey at https://www.facebook.com/seedsjourney/