PeaceBread 2014 – Conference and Ceremonial Act (1/5)

(Report in 5 parts)

Welcome evening “Welcome to the Seddiner See” in Seddiner See on September 29, 2014

Participants of the 12 European PeaceBread partner countries as well as guests from further eight European countries and the United States of America received a warm welcome at the evening reception “Welcome at Seddiner See” at the local Heimvolkshochschule on 29 September 2014. On behalf of the association PeaceBread (Verein Friedensbrot e.V.), Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Frank Ellmer explained the history of the field of rye on the former death strip along the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Straße. According to Prof. Ellmer, this highly figurative symbol for peace and reconciliation can be understood as impulse for the founding of PeaceBread, the civil society association as well as the project; he highlighted that the intention of the European conference on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain is to point out the reciprocal relation between peace-keeping and sustainable agriculture. Prof. Ellmer then officially opened the conference.

In his welcome address, director Dr. Klaus Benthin accentuated the idea of the Heimvolkshochschule. He expressed his and his team’s pride to be able to contribute to the surroundings of this international conference. Heiko Terno, Vice-President of the Farmers’ Union Brandenburg, then addressed the history of the all-in-all successful transformation from a centrally planned to a free market economy. Staffan Nilsson, former president of the European Economic and Social Committee and farmer from Sweden, expressed his gratitude for the PeaceBread project. The General Manager of the PeaceBread project, Dr. Gibfried Schenk, said he was pleased with the high level of interest and the support granted by partner countries as well as sponsors from the business sector, from associations and civil society, and the commitment of the voluntary members of the organisational team.

Plenum 1 on September 30, 2014: Our PeaceBread: „History and Stories“

Following the welcome by the board of the association PeaceBread, Anton Blöth, the section on “History and Stories” received utmost attention in the morning of 30 September: the presentation of all twelve countries which participate in the PeaceBread project, i.e. Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Hungary. Rye seeds harvested on the field of rye at Bernauer Straße, which has been cultivated by the Parish of Reconciliation in cooperation with the Agricultural Faculty of Humboldt University in Berlin for years, were sawn and then harvested as “Peace-Rye” in the eleven partner countries – on sites with a similarly important background in history including former battlefields, concentration camps and sites of deportation. In their presentations, speakers highlighted the role of agriculture in their respective countries and particularly with regard to the transformation process after 1989.

The Estonian rye-king Hans the First (Hans Kruusamägi) received special applause for his humorous presentation on the great significance of rye in the society of Estonia.

The forenoon programme was facilitated by Mrs Catarina Zanner, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg rbb, and Dr. Schenk.

Greetings to the conference from USA brought Prof. Bob Patterson and Jourdain De Fontes from North Carolina State University.

Pictures: Anton Blöth (Berlin), Holger Bransch (Brandenburg), Rüdiger Pelikan (Brandenburg), Marion Schenk (Zirndorf)

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