Seed Gathering 2021

On the 23rd and 24th of October we held the very first Seed Gathering 2021.  It was a weekend of inspirational discussions, workshops and talks celebrating the diversity, opportunities and deep cultural connections of our seeds.

 


All of the videos from our Seed Gathering are also available in a showcase on our Vimeo channel. You can watch them here:


Programme:

Saturday, 23rd October 2021

  Keynote – 9.30am: Opening Plenary from Vandana Shiva

 

Session 1 – Saturday 23rd October – 10.30am:
Accessing Agrodiversity: Searching for new varieties


Despite huge losses in crop diversity over the last century, there are still rare seeds with many incredible traits – from taste to tolerance – available to growers but little known or accessed. These varieties may reside in community seed banks, in the custodianship of older farmers, in genebanks or with breeders, and this session looked at how to access them through partnerships and networks that foster solidarity and sharing across the small-scale seed movement.  In this discussion we explored some of the tools that small-scale seed producers and seed banks have used to access diverse vegetable seeds. The session will be particularly relevant to anyone wanting to start seed collecting or selling their own varieties.  

Speakers:
Kate McEvoy of Real Seeds, Catriona Fenton of Garden Organic & Richard Galpin of London Freedom Seed Bank
Facilitator: Katie Hastings, Wales Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme


Session 2 – Saturday 23rd October – 11.30am:
Globalising the (Seed) Struggle


In this session we heard from peasants, farmers and activists from the international grassroots movement La Via Campesina. The speakers shared stories and strategies of the past two decades from their farmers unions and networks organising across the globe in response to the concentration of seed ownership, seed enclosures and the loss of agrobiodiveristy
.

Speakers:
Ramona Duminciou of Eco Ruralis in Romania and Via Campesina Europe
Mahesh Deshpande of La Via Campesina India
Dee Butterly of the Land Workers Alliance – LWA

 

Session 3 – Saturday 23rd October – 12.30pm:
Reviving Grain Equipment: Human-scale machinery for big challenges 


To revive our fields with diverse grains, we must revive the machines that enable us process and eat them. In this session we hear from Adam Veitch – an engineer, grower and baker – on the work he has been doing with the Seed Sovereignty Programme to research the human-scale grain processing machinery of the past. Adam is using his research to develop an open source design for a dehuller which will allow farmers to dehull grains in their fields.

Speaker: Adam Veitch, crofter and founder of Ryevolution
Facilitator: Katie Hastings, Wales Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

Lunch – 1.30pm – Virtual Seed Tour with Real Seeds

Join Kate and Ben on a virtual tour around their inspiring site in Pembrokeshire, a hub of activity for open-pollinated veg seed adored around the UK. Link to tour here:
This film is part of series of free webinars for Farming the Future collaboration: LWA, CSA network, Organic Growers Alliance and the Gaia Foundation.  

Speakers: Kate McEvoy and Ben Gable of Real Seeds


Session 4 – Saturday 23rd October – 2.30pm:
Organic Seed Breeding: Progress and challenges


Small scale farmers play a crucial role in the management and use of agrobiodiversity, of which seeds form a central part. Farmers are increasingly understanding that their work is valuable and attempting to achieve appropriate recompense within public sector and food value chains. This situation, which is commonly repeated worldwide, is the driver of this session, which explored innovative business models and learning approaches to increase and support sustainable agrobiodiversity management and to reconnect food chain players and civil society with agrobiodiversity values. Humberto’s research has taken place in Cuba, Mexico and also in Europe.

And as an added extra watch Humberto and fellow musicians perform La Rana here!

Speaker: Humberto Rios Labrada of CAWR
Facilitator: Charlie Gray, Northern England Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

Session 5 – Saturday 23rd October – 3.30pm:
Vegetable Seed Legislation: Where we are and where we want to be


Seed legislation expert Fulya Batur talked us through UK vegetable seed legislation as it stands and the work being done to shift the landscape for a more diverse and fair future in seed.

Speaker: Lawyer and activist Fulya Batur of Kybele Consultancy
Facilitator: Robyn Minogue, Southwest England Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme


Session 6 – Saturday 23rd October – 4.30pm:
Grain Legislation:
Where we are and where we want to be


Seed legislation expert Fulya Batur was joined by UK Grain Lab founder Kimberley Bell and the Organic Research Centre’s Charlotte Bickler to discuss the grain legislation landscape and options for the future.

Speakers:
Fulya Batur, Lawyer and Seed Legislation expert
Kimberley Bell of UK Grain Lab
Charlotte Bickler of the Organic Research Centre

Facilitator: Sinead Fortune, Programme Manager, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

Session 7 – Saturday 23rd October – 5.30pm:
Sovereign Medicine: Medicinal herb seed issues and opportunities


Discussions of seed sovereignty usually focus on grain or vegetable seed, but our oft-overlooked medicinal seed is in a precarious position as additional shipping restrictions and lack of local producers leaves medicinal herb growers struggling to source seed. Joined by Richo Cech of Strictly Medicinal Seeds, widely regarded as one of the most important medicinal seed suppliers, and Ben Heron of Earthsong Seeds, we discussed the state of medicinal seed, drawing inspiration from the past and planning next steps for the future.   

Speakers: Richo Cech of Strictly Medicinal Seeds and Ben Heron of Earthsong Seeds
Facilitator:  Sinead Fortune, Programme Manager, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

FILM NIGHT – Saturday 23rd October – 7.30pm:
Seeds of Justice Film & Pre-Film Conversation


Pre-film conversation with Liz Hosken, Director of the Gaia Foundation and Sinead Fortune, Programme Manager, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme.
Speaker: Liz Hosken, Director of The Gaia Foundation
Facilitator:  Sinead Fortune, Programme Manager, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

Seed of Justice – Film Screening


Seeds of Justice follows Ethiopian plant geneticist Dr Melaku Worede’s inspirational work to re-valorise farmers’ knowledge and protect their position as guardians of seed diversity.

Treading in Melaku’s footsteps from his youth to the present day through his pivotal experience of Ethiopia’s infamous famine, the film questions one of society’s most flawed assumptions: that scientists hold the answers to ending hunger, not farmers. A film by The Gaia Foundation in collaboration with the African Biodiversity Network, GRAIN, MELCA Ethiopia, USC Canada and Ethic-Organic Seed Action. 


Sunday, 24th October 2021

 

Session 1 – Sunday 24th October – 9.30am:
Seed to Plate: Working together to build small-scale grain networks


By enabling the diversification of cereal seed, we can empower a new generation of localised, equitable grain networks. A spirit of openness and collaboration over the long term is required to ensure that resilient, sustainable and positive economies can be established. This lively panel session presented three working networks and illustrated some of the learning they have undertaken so far, including questions from the audience.

Speakers: Fred Price and Rosy Benson of Gothelney Farm and Field Bakery
John Turner of The Grange
Kimberley Bell of Small Food Bakery
Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedods
Henrietta Inman of Wakelyns Bakery

 

Session 1a – Seed to Plate – Continuing the conversation


The panel and members of the audience continued their conversation for an animated follow-on session.

Speakers: Fred Price and Rosy Benson of Gothelney Farm and Field Bakery, John Turner of The Grange Kimberley Bell of Small Food Bakery, Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedods & Henrietta Inman of Wakelyns Bakery   


Session 2 – Sunday 24th October – 10:30am:
Pulses, Proteins and the UK Diet


The majority of pulses are imported to the UK & Ireland despite the fact we used to grow many more on these islands. Hodmedods was founded in 2012 to bring back UK grown pulses and other food crops working with British Farmers. From Fava beans to “Black Badger” Carlin Peas and Quinoa from the plains of Essex, Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedods talked about this journey and the current opportunities.

Speakers: Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedods and Tamsin Leakey
Facilitator: Charlie Gray, Northern England Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme


Session 2a – Sunday 24th October
Pulses, Proteins & the UK Diet – Continuing the conversation


The panel and members of the audience continued their conversation for an animated follow-on session.
Speakers: Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedods and Tamsin Leakey
Facilitator: Charlie Gray, Northern England Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

Session 3 – Sunday 24th October – 11.30am:
Community Seed Forum – Rural and Urban Seed Initiatives: Opportunities and collaborations


Urban and rural community seed initiatives face distinct constraints, challenges and opportunities. Join us for this Community Seed Forum, as we together unpacked these and teased out potential solutions and collaborations. This session begins with a few brief presentations from existing seed projects before opening the floor for open discussion.

Speakers:
Sophia Doyle, of London Freedom Seed Bank
Richard Galpin, London Freedom Seed Bank
Andrea Sanders, Lampeter Seed Library 
Open to all community seed groups in our network

 

Session 4 – Sunday 24th October – 12.30pm:
Three Irish Seed Saving Pioneers: A journey back to the beginning


Going back to the source of the modern day revival of seed saving in Ireland, we talked to three pioneers who were there at the beginning. We asked who inspired them, what motivated them and are they hopeful for the future amongst other things. An inspirational and deep session that went to the heart of what being a seed saver means in these times.

Speakers: Madeline McKeever of Brown Envelope Seeds, Kevin Dudley of Cloughjordan Community Farm and Anita Hayes, Founder of Irish Seed Savers Association
Facilitator: Jason Horner, Ireland Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

Lunch – Sunday 24th October – 1.30pm – Llafur Ni – (Our Grains) Film Screening

Pre-film Conversation with Welsh organic farmer Gerald Miles and Katie Hastings, Wales Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme


Gerald Miles has been on an epic quest to rediscover the rare black oats his grandfather once grew in Pembrokeshire fields overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Speakers:
Gerald Miles: Caerhys
Katie Hastings, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

Film Screening: Laafur Ni – (Our Grains)


This beautiful film follows Welsh organic farmer Gerald Miles on an epic quest to rediscover the rare black oats his grandfather once grew in Pembrokeshire fields overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. For a long time it looked like his search would be in vain, and that the black oats were gone for good… then he met Owen Shires and Iwan Evans Coedfadre.

 

Session 5 – Sunday 24th October – 2.30pm:
Fostering Genetic Diversity within the variety development process


Genetic diversity plays a key role in ensuring resilience, robustness, stability and performance in food production, however industrialised agricultural systems and supermarkets are driving the loss of genetic diversity in our food. What can we do reverse this, and what do we need to happen to realise and release Nature’s potential in our crop varieties?​ Join our panel who explored options for promoting diversity and reintroducing resilience into our food system.

Speakers:
Ambrogio Constanzo of the Organic Research Centre

Jack Kloppenburg of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI)
Liz O’Neill of GM Freeze
Facilitator: Charlotte Bickler of the Organic Research Centre (ORC)


Session 5a – Fostering Genetic Diversity within the variety development process – Continuing the conversation


The panel and members of the audience continued their conversation for this lively follow-on session.

Speakers: Ambrogio Constanzo of the Organic Research Centre, Jack Kloppenburg of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) and Liz O’Neill of GM Freeze ; Charlotte Bickler of the Organic Research Centre (ORC)

Facilitator: Charlie Gray Northern England Coordinator Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme

 

Session 6 – Sunday 24th October – 3.30pm:
Contracting Between Growers and Suppliers


Join seed growers from the UK and USA for a roundtable discussion about their different approaches to contracts between seed growers and suppliers.

Speakers:
Nikos Kavanya of Fedco Seeds,
David Price of the Seed Coop
Kate McEvoy of Real Seeds

Facilitator: Richie Walsh, Scotland Coordinator, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme


Session 7 – Sunday 24th October – 4.30pm:
In Conversation with the Seed Sovereignty Team: Exciting updates
from our Networks


An informal conversation with the Seed Sovereignty team highlighting what’s going on across our networks. A great opportunity to get inspiration from what’s going on not too far from home!

Seed Sovereignty Team:
Sinead Fortune: Programme Manager; Helene Schulze: Southeast England Coordinator; Richie Walsh: Scotland Coordinator
Charlie Gray: Northern England Coordinator; Katie Hasting: Wales Coordinator; Robyn Minogue: Southwest England Coordinator; Jason Horner: Ireland Coordinator

 

Session 8 – Sunday 24th October – 5.30pm:
Lessons from Our Global Allies


No movement exists in a vaccuum, and the seed movement in the UK and Ireland has been following in the footsteps of and developing collaboration with similar movements in the US, Canada and across Europe. In this lively discussion we heard from those who have provided inspiration and now present opportunities for collaboration in the future.

Speakers:
Cara Loriz of the Organic Seed Alliance OSA
Aabir Dey Director of The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security – a programme of SeedChange
Mattias Lormier of Let’s Liberate Diversity LLD   

Facilitator: Sinead Fortune Programme Manager Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme


Closing Plenary – with Sinead Fortune, Programme Manager, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme


Sinead Fortune, Programme Manager, Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme gives the closing plenary for the very first Seed Gathering 2021!


Event Partners

The Seed Gathering has been organised with support from three of our valuable allies – The Organic Research Centre, the UK Grain Lab, and the Landworkers Alliance. Each of these organisations represents collaboration in key areas of research, grain networking, and the wider network of landworkers in the UK.

      

 

 

Landworkers’ Alliancea union of farmers, growers, foresters and land-based workers with a mission to improve the livelihoods of our members and create a better food and land-use system for everyone.

UK Grain Lab – an annual meeting of farmers, millers, plant breeders, bakers, cooks, scientists and academics   providing an opportunity to bake together, eat, drink, learn from each other and talk about the future.

Organic Research Centre – an independent research charity working for better and more  sustainable farming systems which protect the environment and provide good food for everyone.

 

SPEAKERS          Organisation/Company

Adam Veitch Ryevolution
Ambrogio Constanza Organic Research Centre – ORC
Anita Hayes Founder Irish Seed Savers Association
Ben Heron Earthsong Seeds
Cara Loriz Organic Seed Alliance – OSA
Catrina Fenton Heritage Seed Library
Charlotte Bickler Organic Research Centre – ORC
David Price Seed Coop
Dee Butterly Land Workers Allliance – LWA
Fred Price Gothelney Farm
Fulya Batur www.kybele-consult.com
Gerald Miles Caerhys
Henrietta Inman Wakelyns Bakery
Humberto Rios Labrada CAWR
Jack Kloppenburg Open Source Seed Initiative – OSSI
John Turner The Grange
Josiah Meldrum Hodmedods
Kate McEvoy Real Seeds
Kevin Dudley Cloughjordan Community farm
Kimberley Bell Small Food Bakery

UK Grain Lab

Liz Hosken The Gaia Foundation
Liz O Neill GM Freeze
Madeline Mckeever Brown Envelope Seeds
Mahesh Deshpande LVC India
Mattias Lormier Lets Liberate Diversity
Nikos Kavanya Fedco Seeds
Ramona Duminciou LVC

Eco Ruralis

Richard Galpin London Freedom Seed Bank
Richo Cech Strictly Medicinal Seeds
Rosy Benson Field Bakery
Sophia Doyle London Freedom Seed Bank
Tamsin  Leakey
Vandana Shiva Navdanya