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For 70 years during Communism the high mountain villagers of Kyrgyzstan grew wheat and raised sheep. In return for these products, the villagers were supplied truck loads of vegetables from lowland valleys. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the trucks making the exchange of goods suddenly stopped their round trips. The diet of the high mountain valleys was reduced to wheat and potatoes, resulting in sickness and high infant mortality.

To encourage self-reliance, an American agricultural teacher consulted village elders and set up a trial garden program in a local school using open-pollinated seeds, many donated by Seeds Trust, High Altitude Gardens. Four years later, seed saving and a diversified diet have returned. The first village garden fair was held. (See photo above.) Seed is beginning to be traded, hand to hand, village to village.

We are still passing out seeds in Kyrgyzstan. It is our largest program with over 150 lbs. of seeds being sent this year. Farmers and gardeners have sprouted the entire length of the Narin valley. Second, third and fouth year gardeners are now saving seeds. A small local seed company located in the valley would be the next logical step. This year we will experiment with clovers and annual alfalfa.


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