International Seed Exchanges

The ‘International Seed Exchange’ programme aims to provide advanced growers and seed producers in the UK with opportunities to form international connections with other seed initiatives facing similar challenges in innovative and groundbreaking ways.

Recognising the value of sharing experiences and knowledge with organisations that are on a similar journey to us, in 2021 we coordinated a series of virtual exchanges with projects in the USA to support the re-emergence of seed and grain sovereignty in the UK and Ireland. The process began in late summer 2021, when trainees who had completed our intermediate seed training course were invited to apply for the programme. The three exchange projects were then chosen by the group based off the themes of Cultivating Celebration and Culture, Growing Diversity, and Building Resilience and Adaptability.

Now in the second year of the exchange programme, we continue to create this opportunity to exchange and learn from some of the leading examples of food and seed sovereignty in practice. This exchange programme has been funded by Farming the Future.

 

2022

Building resilience and adaptability

As our climate changes, so too must our crops. On this exchange, we will focus on ways in which other communities are trialling seed that is more resilient and more adaptable to extreme weather conditions. Focusing on a key food crop, we will then look to replicate in our networks as a next step.’ Riccardo Bocci is Technical Director of Rete Semi Rurali. Their mission is to stand up for, conserve and promote the collective management of agrobiodiversity and strive to create awareness of the need for an ecological transition in agriculture and the economy more generally. Rete Semi Rurali is a network of 34 members and acts as a hub for food system biodiversity, supporting and facilitating connections, sharing information and exchanging experiences among those committed to diversity, from seed to plate, and stand against extractive agriculture with its monocultures.

Exchange host: Rete Semi Rurali, Italy

 

 

2021

Our first round of exchanges was run in collaboration with The Landworkers’ Alliance, with generous support from Farming the Future.

Growing Diversity

Loss of seed diversity is a huge issue in our seed and food system. Not only do we lose genetic diversity, we lose taste, colour, smell, crop diversity and culinary culture. By identifying particular weak points in our seed stock – which crops are lacking diversity in our available local seed supply, which varieties are missing or disappearing – and collaborating with organisations and networks specialising in those varieties, we can work to diversify the crops we grow and learn about the incredible range of seed that is available and grown all around the world.

Exchange Host: Adaptive Seeds, Oregon

 

 

Building Resilience and Adaptability

As our climate changes, so too must our crops. On this exchange, we will focus on ways in which other communities are trialling seed that is more resilient and more adaptable to extreme weather conditions. Focusing on a key food crop, we will then look to replicate in our networks as a next step.

Exchange Host: Wild Mountain Seeds, Colorado

 

Cultivating Celebration and Culture

How are other networks connecting their wider communities with the work they’re doing? What ways do they come together to celebrate the stories and cultures behind their seeds? By connecting with organisations leading the way on innovative seed events, we can develop methods of embedding the importance of seed wider and deeper into our networks, community and culture.

Exchange Host: Culinary Breeding Network

What’s next for our Growers?

The participants of our International Seed Exchange programme will now go on to run a series of demonstration trials over the next growing season, incorporating the themes and seeds they’ve delved into throughout the exchanges. Stay tuned for updates on how they get on!

 

Want to take part?

Applications are now closed for the 2022/2023 Exchange programme! If you’re interested in taking part next year, please email sinead@gaianet.org to be kept informed.