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Bingenheimer Saatgut AG –
Part of a vibrant network

Team of Bingenheimer Saatgut AG September 2022

Where does organic start? Easy: It starts with the breeding of varieties and the propagation of seeds! More and more farmers, gardeners and consumers share with us the idea of providing a healthy diversity of tasty, digestible and adapted varieties for organic cultivation by preserving proven and developing new open-pollinated varieties. They are the reason why we can now offer almost 500 open-pollinated varieties, of which more than 100 are new biodynamic and organic varieties – without using hybrid breeding, patents or genetic engineering. If you want to find out how this commitment started and how our partnership network has developed, stay tuned and read on.

Looking at the origins as a guideline for the future

The goals and ideals that direct our daily work are based on a simple yet fundamental realisation: In order to enable independent organic farming on a long term basis, open-pollinated vegetable varieties must be preserved, further developed and organically propagated, whilst making the seeds of these varieties available to all interested parties. The basis of this realisation was born about 35 years ago from the fact that hardly any organic seed was available for the cultivation of organic vegetables. In addition, the triumphant of hybrid varieties was accompanied by a dramatic decline in open-pollinated varieties. This led a group of open-minded, committed Demeter gardeners to join together to form the "Initiativkreis für Gemüsesaatgut aus biologisch-dynamischem Anbau" (Initiative for vegetable seeds from biodynamic cultivation) and to pursue the cultivation of open-pollinated varieties. Initially, the focus was on an intensive exchange of experiences as well as the collection of knowledge regarding the propagation of vegetable seeds in the context of organic agriculture.


Historical development –the most important milestones

Historical development –

the most important milestones

1975The idea of biodynamic seed is born among biodynamic gardeners
1985First meeting of the Initiative Group in Bingenheim takes place
1988Start of the distribution of organic seeds via Allerleirauh GmbH
1994The Kultursaat e.V. is founded from the middle of the initiative group
1995Construction of the first seed workshop
1998The first carrot varieties selected by flavour, Rodelika and Robila, are approved by the Federal Office for Plant Varieties
2001The Bingenheimer Saatgut AG is founded
2004First breeding and variety day with partner companies, which has been held regularly since then
2013The world's first open-pollinate sweet corn varieties of the "yellow extra-sweet" type (Damaun, Medzi, Tramunt) bred by Kultursaat e. V. are added to the range of the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG
2015Winner of the Federal Organic Farming Competition (BMEL), together with Kultursaat e. V.
2016Organic breeding success: first broccoli variety in the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG assortment
202035th anniversary of the Initiativkreis für Gemüsesaatgut aus biologisch-dynamischem Anbau (initiative for vegetable seeds from biodynamic cultivation)
202120th anniversary of the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, winner of the Organic Farming Innovation Award together with Kultursaat e.V., 100 new varieties from the Kultursaat association in the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG product range
2022Change in the Board of Management: Gebhard Rossmanith retires and hands over the chairmanship of the Board of Management to the previous member Petra Boie.

A public limited company (PLC) as a partnership-based enterprise

The first seed harvests were simply exchanged among each other. But after only a few years, a central place was needed where seeds could be tested, processed and distributed. At first, these tasks could be carried out by the workshops of the Lebensgemeinschaft Bingenheim e. V..
However, 14 years later, in 2001, the work involved in all aspects of the seed had grown to a point where the establishment of an independent company was required: the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG was born. By choosing the public limited company as the corporate form, the impulses of the past could be further developed and the funds necessary for investments could be complemented by a larger circle of like-minded partners.


Diagram Seed initiative Group

In addition to us and our seed multipliers, the breeders of the breeding associations Kultursaat and Saat:gut also belong to the initiative groupsee diagram). The close relationship with all parties involved continues to characterise the self-image of the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG.

The exchange within our network as well as the respectful interaction among all economic partners is the key prerequisite for the success of organic seed production. The meetings of the initiative group, which take place twice a year, provide a space for joint training, offer a platform for in-depth discussions and create a stable basis for cooperation based on trust. This is intended to be a clear alternative to the models commonly used in the seed industry, because usually the corporations dictate the conditions and by relocating seed production to countries with climatic advantages and low wages, the alienation between gardeners and seed manufacturers grows.

The principles underpinning our work

The founding principles of Bingenheimer Saatgut AG are still continuing to guide our work. In all corporate divisions, respect for the dignity of people, animals and plants form the basis for responsible and respectful interaction, both with each other and with our environment. In addition to our main tasks, the processing of seed and the distribution of open-pollinated varieties, our efforts are also aimed primarily at the conservation and promotion of varietal diversity for organic farming. Furthermore, we want to contribute to the cultural task of society to promote seed propagation. All our efforts have at their heart the desire to develop alternative social economies between all parties involved in the production and consumption process. We consider it as one of our tasks to inform our customers in a fair manner and to act as an intermediary to show all those involved in the value chain the possibilities and limitations of breeding and cultivating open-pollinated organic varieties.

Our guiding principles are also reflected in the ownership structure of the public limited company: Our registered shares are only issued to buyers who are committed to the objectives of the Bingenheimer Saatgut AG. The shareholders include the Software AG Foundation, the Lebensgemeinschaft Bingenheim, seed propagators and customers as well as other institutions with the same aspirations.


A non-profit association as the key to a contemporary alternative in plant breeding

But who actually owns these varieties? And who should they belong to? The current debate over patents on plants and animals illustrates the changing significance of cultivated plants: Whereas in the past varieties were still regarded as important cultural assets, today they are mostly seen and treated as pure economic goods. Seeds, however, are far more than just a means of production such as diesel, boxes, fleece, etc. As it forms the vivid starting point of every diet, we are convinced that there should be no private ownership of varieties or DNA sequences. To represent this belief, the non-profit association Kultursaat was founded in 1994 from the midst of the initiative group. The association is responsible for biodynamic variety development, variety conservation, breeding research, method development, public relations and breeding financing. You can find out more about Kultursaat e. V. and its current work here.

Kultursaat e.V.

Your contribution to our seed cultivation work

there are many ways to help us develop organic seeds further:

  • As a customer: Give us feedback! Your experiences form the starting point for our ongoing development in terms of quality improvement.
  • As a potential seed producer: Are you a commercial grower working on organic land according to the standards of an organic grower organisation? Talk to us and join the initiative group meeting.
  • As a potential shareholder: You want to engage financially in our sustainable seed project? As soon as we plan a capital increase, we will inform about it prominently.
  • You can also become a member of Kultursaat e.V. and participate in the further development and care of this cultural heritage.

The current network in figures

Bingenheimer Saatgut AG

  • is now operating in six buildings with a staff of 100 plus additional seasonal workers
  • 93 gardeners produce biodynamic and organic seedlings
  • around 115,000 customers buy seed from Bingenheim and grow open-pollinated varieties
  • countless amateur gardeners buy Bingenheim seeds through various retail outlets
  • 130 shareholders from organic agriculture, trade and processing are partners in the company
  • the charitable organisation Kultursaat e. V. maintains more than 120 new biodynamic varieties and 19 older varieties