The History of Cannabis Seed Banks in Europe
There’s no doubt that Europe has a rich history when it comes to cannabis. Whether for industrial, medical, or recreational use, cannabis has been a part of European culture for centuries; however, it wasn’t until the last 40 years that cannabis seed banks were established in the region. In this article, we’ll discuss the history of cannabis seed banks in Europe and describe the pioneers who laid the foundation for the thriving cannabis industry we have today.Read More About Cannabis History
The Seed Bank of Holland: The First Cannabis Seed Bank
The history of cannabis seed banks in Europe starts with the “King of Cannabis,” Nevil Martin Schoenmakers. Schoenmakers moved to the Netherlands as an adult, where he began cultivating cannabis for personal use. He tried cultivating a variety of landrace Sativas, including African, Thai, and Colombian strains, but they did not grow well indoors or outdoors in his part of the world.
Schoenmakers realized that if he wanted a strain that would perform well in northern climates, he would have to create it himself. So, in an attempt to find strains that would grow well in Europe and the US, he began a cannabis seed bank in 1984.
The modern cannabis industry has Schoenmakers to thank for many of the strains we enjoy today. He traveled the world collecting and preserving Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis cultivars that otherwise may have never made their way to Europe and the US.
Schoenmakers sold The Seed Bank to Sensi Seeds in 1991.
The History of Sensi Seeds
While Nevil Schoenmakers was laying the groundwork for his seed bank, another cannabis pioneer emerged in Holland.
Ben Dronkers had been cultivating cannabis for several years when he decided to make it his mission to collect seeds from various regions around the world. He met with farmers throughout Asia and the Middle East to acquire a wide variety of cannabis genotypes.
“There is no plant that is so versatile, has such a wonderful history, and so much potential for the future. I have been involved with cannabis all my life, and the plant keeps surprising me.” – Ben Dronkers
In 1984, Dronkers’ passion for collecting seeds evolved into breeding them. He used the Indica and Sativa landrace cultivars he had collected during his travels, as well as several American hybrid strains, to create his own seeds.
The following year, Dronkers founded Sensi Seeds, a company that would become one of the industry’s largest and most respected seed banks. Dronkers also opened the world’s first cannabis museum that same year. Today, Sensi Seeds strains are beloved across the globe. The Dutch Office of Cannabis Management chose Sensi Seeds genetics to formulate medical cannabis offered in pharmacies. Sensi offers feminized and auto-flowering seeds in over 500 strain varieties.
The Origins of Dutch Passion
Soon after Schoenmakers and Dronkers opened their seed banks, another Dutch cannabis breeder hit the scene. Founded by Henk van Dalen in 1987, Dutch Passion is another one of the original cannabis seed banks.
In the 1990s, Dutch Passion changed the cannabis industry forever when it developed the first feminized cannabis seeds. Since then, it has continued to set the standard for feminized and autoflower seeds.
Dinafem: Cannabis Seed Banks in Spain
Although Holland paved the way for the cannabis seed industry, Spain would one day become known as another hub for cannabis genetics in Europe.
Dinafem, originally founded in 2005, was one of the first seed banks in Spain. Its founders had been home growing since the late 1980s and used their experience to create an impressive catalog of feminized and autoflowering strains.
In the early 2010s, Dinafem added California genetics to the catalog, creating the well-known Dinachem and many others. Between 2015 and 2017, Dinafem experimented with CBD-rich strains.
Unfortunately, Dinafem ran into legal troubles in 2020 and is under investigation by the Spanish National High Court. The seed bank has been unable to engage in any commercial activity since the investigation began but is hoping to resume normal operations soon.
The Future of Cannabis Seed Banks in Europe
Although the history of cannabis seed banks in Europe has been a turbulent one, times are starting to change. Several countries have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use, and more are sure to follow along. The future looks bright for the European cannabis industry, and we have Nevil Martin Schoenmakers, Ben Dronkers, and other pioneers of the cannabis industry to thank for that. The four companies mentioned in this article will no doubt continue to influence the history of cannabis seed banks in Europe for many years.
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