Greek farmers can apply to get certain subsidies for their crops, something known as a ‘quality bonus.’ But the standard of what is considered as high quality has increasingly been tied to the use of certified seeds, especially in field crops such as durum wheat, requiring farmers to show proof of purchase to receive support. Despite all of this, some farmers are still relying on older wheat varieties traditional to the areas where they farm. For example, in the Thessaly region, the increasing price of commercial wheat and the decrease in subsidies of competing commercial crops such as cotton has led farmers to experiment with older varieties that were still popular 50 years ago and are still found in the national catalogue. Thus, fields that used to be sown with the industrial varieties are now replaced with older wheat plants such as ‘mavragani’ with their characteristic darker awns. The same is true for other crops such as grapes, melons, eggplant and fruit trees.
Most of the groups participating in the movement of seed conservation are small gardeners. But as people go back to the land and make their living through farming, the number of farmers who are participating is also increasing. One of the main challenges they face is that the knowledge about selecting seeds has not been passed on to the younger generations. As a result, in the last few years, the seed movement in Greece has focused on promoting education about seed selection through seed schools that take place across Greece. In addition to practical know-how and establishing community seed houses, the schools discuss the legal situation facing farmers, as well as the possibilities that farmers can use in order to sell and process their harvests.