Farming the Future Webinars
The Farming the Future Webinar Programme is a partnership between the CSA Network UK, us at the Seed Sovereignty Programme run by the Gaia Foundation and the Organic Growers Alliance, as part of a webinar series funded by Farming the Future.
This series focuses on practical teaching and farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchanges from farmers and growers from around the UK. The series is designed to increase knowledge exchange and learning on both the politics and practice of agroecology, seed sovereignty and food sovereignty.
If you would like to be involved in running a webinar, a theme or practice you would would like to know more about, or have a specific topic you would like to present on please get in touch with the CSA Network UK at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The webinars below were hosted by the Seed Sovereignty Programme as part of this collaboration. Webinars pertaining to the wider agricultural justice movement can be found on the CSA Network UK website.
Seed Banks & Libraries: Preserving and Accessing Biodiversity
Seed banks and seed libraries play an important role in both conserving our heritage and ensuring our future. With the huge decline in both our native flora and vegetable cultivars, as well as the reality of climate change, it is now more important than ever that we conserve and protect as many species and cultivars as possible, to ensure that we don’t lose the DNA that will play an important role in ensuring our future’s biodiversity and farming.
Rare, heritage, native and regionally specific plants are particularly at risk of extinction. Join us to hear from three different Seed Bank/Seed Library projects and how and why they are protecting these plants in living seed collections. We’ll also learn how growers can access and interact with seed banks and libraries to help maintain this diversity.
Speakers: Dr Chris Cockel from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, Catrina Fenton from The Heritage Seed Library and Debbie Gillies from True Harvest Seeds.
The Grain Chain: Arable Crops in Market Gardens
A resurgent interest in all things grain has presented opportunities for market gardeners to diversify their cropping and try something new. Many growers will be familiar with sowing grains as a green manure but taking a crop to full term is a different proposition. Tune in to hear a few different perspectives on variety selection, agronomy, pest and disease issues and marketing amongst other things.
Speakers: Madeline McKeever of Brown Envelope Seeds, who has been growing grains for seed crops for over ten years, Doug Kemp works for Regather Cooperative in Sheffield; Ruth Levene and Rich Swan of the Sheffield Wheat Experiment who are running a community project with over two hundred participants.
This webinar will be of particular interest to anyone looking for new ideas for their market garden cropping and wanting to hear some of the issues involved with small scale grain production.
Seeds of Crisis, Movement and Liberation
Seeds are deeply charismatic materials, and they’re also these things that most everyone is always coming into contact with from a very young age (most often as food). They’ve co-evolved with humans and nonhumans for millennia to be easily collected, kept, carried, lost, cast away. Seed work, or agrobiodiversity conservation, is a timeless set of relations of survival, subsistence, creativity, and play; however it’s clear we’re experiencing a resurgence of local food organising, cross-geographic exchange, and political mobilisations of solidarity and sovereignty through seed.
Speaker: Christian Keeve is a PhD student in Geography at the University of Kentucky. They are also a seedkeeper and chaotic gardener. Their academic work focuses on the political ecologies, cooperative geographies, and knowledge politics of seedkeeping and seed grower networks, especially through Black, queer, and liberatory ecologies. Previously, this has focused on the formation and maintenance of sites of memory and history through the day to day work of growing and keeping seed.
Our Seeds are Our Stories 2
For many of us, our connection to seeds runs much deeper than just the practicalities of food production. Our seeds represent hard work, the growing season to come, and belief that we can build a better future. The journeys seeds take and the challenges they face are reflections of our own journeys and challenges.
Join us for a special evening celebrating seed during the Seed Sovereignty Programme’s annual Seed Week where we’ll discuss the current landscape of seed in the UK, hear from people working with seed in diverse ways, and gain insight into the cultural, political and personal contexts seeds bring with them.
Speakers: Col Gordon is a seed researcher and baker who’s based on his family farm in the Scottish Highlands. Ione Maria Rojas is a food grower and multidisciplinary artist working with earth, plants, animals and people. In the past few years she has been exploring her mixed heritage, working across the UK and Mexico, a back and forth that was prompted by her first meeting of amaranth. Dennis Touliatos is an interdisciplinary researcher, with a background in plant biology and environmental social sciences, exploring how and why we should grow plants differently. He is also co-manager of the Lancaster Seed Library.
The Seed Process – Following the Journey from Harvest to Packet
As market gardeners are busy bringing in their crops this time of year, so too are seed producers hard at work harvesting their seed. These seeds are destined to become next year’s crops, but what happens to them between harvest and being deposited in packets to be shipped to growers throughout the UK?
Speakers: Hans Steenbergen of the Seed Cooperative and Fred Groom of Vital Seeds take us through the journey their seeds take from plant to packet, using a variety of techniques and equipment. They’ll discuss things to consider like seed quality, disease control, and collective models of equipment.
Make Room for Seed
Market gardeners and commercial growers hold a vital part in developing our seed sovereignty here in the UK both in terms of variety and quantity of locally-produced seed. However, one of the biggest concerns from commercial growers interested in producing seed – for their own use, to swap in seed circles, or to sell to seed suppliers as another income stream – is how to balance demands of a market garden with the unique challenges producing seed raises. Drawing on the experience of growers who have followed this path we hope to give you the inside track on growing seeds as part of market gardening operation.
Speakers: Jason Horner of Leen Organics, Ann Owen of Einion’s Garden and André Tranquilini of Waltham Place to explore seed production in market gardens and learn from their experience of following this path.
Our Seeds are Our Stories
Our seeds represent hard work, the growing season to come, and belief that we can build a better future. The journeys seeds take and the challenges they face are reflections of our own journeys and challenges. Catch up with a special storytelling event hosted as part of the 4th annual Seed Week in January 2021.
Speakers: Join storytellers including Vivienne Sansour of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library and Kimberley Bell, founder of the UK Grain Lab, to learn more about the power and importance of seed in the UK and beyond.
If you aren’t part of any of the organisations running this programme but would like to sign as a member up please check us out at:
Seed Sovereignty Programme (for growers interested in saving and producing seed) www.seedsovereignty.info
Organic Growers Alliance: (for market gardens and vegetable farms) www.organicgrowersalliance.co.uk
CSA Network UK: (for community supported agriculture schemes) www.communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk
Landworkers’ Alliance: (union for farmers, growers, forresters and landworkers) landworkersalliance.org.uk