When we got off the bus in Copenhagen it was very cold and seemed as though nothing was open. We decided to walk towards the center of town, past Tivoli Gardens and the wax museum to the main square. When we got to the town square it was full of life. We were surprised to see so many people awake so early — until we realized it wasn’t early for them, it was late. The bars were still open and they were still out from the night before. Once we had this realization it became obvious that every person that passed us was quite drunk, and so we had an amusing time sitting on a bench in the square watching the show.
Eventually it was late enough to call Søren Holt, a member of the Danish Seed Savers Association (Frøsamlerne) who would be our ride to Ødense for the Seed Cleaning Workshop later that day. We had a bit of difficulty with the pay phone, until a kind and compassionate (and very drunk) young man offered to make the call for us. After our pick-up was arranged, our new friend asked us what we were doing in Denmark. When we told him, he laughed and said, “You guys are very big nerds. I thought I was a big nerd when I play online video games, but you are even more nerds. You are like bionic nerds, made up of many pieces of smaller nerds stuck together!” I thanked him for the complement and the phone call, and we parted ways.
It was early enough that we were able to go back to Søren’s house before driving the 2.5 hours to Ødense. He served us toast and coffee and finally, Ikea made sense to me! We took a quick tour of his garden and were off.
The seed cleaning workshop in Ødense was attended by about 18 people, all members of the Frøsamlerne. The presenter, Jeppe Dalsgaard, has worked for seed companies in Scandinavia long enough that he had a great amount of knowledge to share: He knows the magic of cleaning seeds by hand (without fans!). Jeppe gave thorough demonstrations on cleaning spinach, kale, and carrot seeds using only three different sized screens, a shallow metal drum that looked something like a large cheese cake pan with a very fine wire mesh at the bottom, two trays and a muslin sack. He also gave the mathematical equations for how dry a seed can get at a certain temperature with a certain atmospheric humidity. He explained the finer details of “priming” parsley seed so it germinates quicker, and taught about the difference between seed vigor (speed with which seeds sprout) and germination rate (total percentage of sprouted seeds after a given period of time).
The day was very informative, thanks to the translation by Lila, our Seed Ambassadors Super-heroine in Denmark. Not only did we learn from Jeppe important information about the seed industry, but we also were able to share seeds with dedicated seed savers. Additionally, we were able to obtain several dozen new seeds, some saved by Søren, form a few others, and some from a small seed company, Urtegartneriet, that sells biodynamic seeds from Bingenheimer in Germany as well as seeds from Denmark. We witnesses a demonstration of a homemade nearly all free/recycled material vacuum grain cleaner made by Anders Borgen of Agrologica (Cunsultancy for Organic Farming). The website contains great information. With his experience and intelligence about organic grains and and his interest in the perennial grains we brought to give, We were flattered that he took some seeds and were grateful to have met him.
The event was very exciting and there was so much going on it was hard to leave — we were surrounded by fellow seed-savers and could have stayed talking and sharing with them for days. Unfortunately, we had to run off to catch a series of trains to our next destination: a folk school in Ringkobing that offers alternative education to young people (usually between high school and university).
And so: we started out the day in Copenhagen in the easternmost part of Denmark. We traveled for two hours to Ødense, a bit south but basically in the center of the country on the island of Fyn. After three more hours on zig-zagging trains, we wound up a bit further north on the west coast of Jutland in this delightful little country.
You can see some other photos of the event at the following website: http://www.gourmethaven.dk/artikel/vis.php?id=169