THE IRAQI SEED PROJECT wants to keep a conversation going about agriculture in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.
The story starts 10,000 years ago when ancient farmers in modern-day Iraq began domesticating wild plants- important global staples such as wheat, barley, grapes and chickpeas. This website is a resource to learn about these important Iraqi crops, ancient relics that give clues to agriculture’s early origins in the region, and meet a wide array of characters who introduce us to what it means to be a farmer in the Fertile Crescent today.
Until the First Gulf War, agriculture employed 30% of Iraq’s population; today the country imports the majority of its food supply. The region’s agricultural history spans thousands of years, but after years of war and sanctions, what is left of this legacy for modern day farmers? As foreign aid and ideologies flood the country amidst the reconstruction, it is important to take a moment and listen to the voice of local farmers; what can we learn from them and their history? With an aging population, dwindling numbers, and difficulties competing in a global economy, small-scale farmers across the world are experiencing similar hardships. The Iraqi Seed Project starts where agriculture began, but speaks to far reaching issues affecting farmers and farmland worldwide, seeking to build bridges between the rural population of nations that have been at war.
The Iraqi Seed Project began in April 2009 after spending time at the Kurdish Ministry of Agriculture on my first trip to Erbil. I made several additional research trips between 2010-2015, collecting and recording audio-visual materials to learn as much as possible about the origins of agriculture and local food security. I have amassed a large collection of research along the way; including photographs, 8mm film footage, digital video recordings and audio recordings as well as ancient texts, official documents and interviews with farmers and government officials. I am in the process of editing a film based on a small fragment of this material. The remaining materials I plan to share here as an educational resource for whoever finds it useful.
-Emma Piper-Burket, 14 February 2018
PRESS & PUBLIC ENGAGEMENTS
The Splendid Table: Interview – 4 February, 2012
Temple University / Slow Food Temple • Anthropology of Food Presentation, Philadelphia, USA // 2012
Hungry Filmmakers V- Anthology Film Archives – 16 May 2011
Renewing Agriculture in Iraq – Solutions Journal – 2 May 2011
Franklin and Marshall College • Environmental Speakers Series, Lancaster, USA // 2010
Seed Stories – The Splendid Table -- 21 August, 2010
The Iraqi Seed Project has been supported by generous donations and support from The Helianthus Fund, Kurdsat, The Oriental Institute, a Kickstarter Campaign, and many others. We have fiscal sponsorship through Women Make Movies, tax-deductible donations can be made here for completion of the film, Jarmo.
Emma Piper-Burket is a visual artist, filmmaker, and writer working in fiction, non-fiction, and collected media. Her work is process-based and research driven, incorporating social trends, ancient history, science, politics, ephemera, and the natural world into her creative practice. Recently she was an Ebert Fellow for Film Criticism at the Sundance Film Festival, a resident artist at Marble House Project, and participated in the Oberhausen Seminar. Her film, Dream City, is currently available on Fandor; her films have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including screenings at Anthology Film Archives, The Armory Center for the Arts and Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. Her writing appears in Reverse Shot, and RogerEbert.com. Emma is currently working on her first feature, Sweet Relief in Crystal Palace, which was selected for the Middlebury Script Lab in 2018. She holds an MFA in Cinema and Digital Media from FAMU in Prague, and a BA in Arabic and Classical Studies from Georgetown University.