Jason Horner reflects on his time as Seed Sovereignty Coordinator for Ireland sharing the lessons gifted and learned. The role will be in safe and familiar hands with Richie Walsh, previous Coordinator for Scotland, joining as our new Coordinator for Ireland.

It seems like only the other day I was writing my first blogpost as the newly-employed Ireland Coordinator for the Seed Sovereignty Programme, but it’s been nearly three years! A lot has happened since then, many seeds have been sown and grown and many connections forged all in the name of seed sovereignty. 

I took on the job because I was confident that I could do it and couldn’t think anyone else who might want to. It is a testament to the success of the programme that I can safely say this is no longer the case. Another indication that the movement is going from strength to strength can be seen in the myriad people who are now actively involved when it comes to seed saving in Ireland. 

I have a tendency to get involved at the beginning of projects and the Seed Sovereignty Programme was no different. I happened to be invited to an initial scoping meeting for the programme at Sheepdrove Farm in 2015. This meeting was quickly followed by a feasibility study, and when the first phase started in 2017 I readily agreed to sit on the advisory board. Stepping down from my role as Coordinator at the end of this of the year feels like the end of the beginning, and not the other way around. To me, it just feels like the end of the first lap… hopefully of many. 

There have been lots of highlights, including our team retreats, our online Gatherings, UK Grain Lab 2021, making a film (Seeding Tomorrow), our two regional events in Ireland and my yearlong training courses. All these events have reinforced my belief that getting people together, preferably in person, is where the magic happens. Seeds are very complex and so are people, but banding together in the name of a shared cause can produce powerful results. 

Which brings me to the Seed Team. At the beginning I wasn’t sure if I could I work as part of a team. To say that my experience working in this type of environment was limited would be an understatement – I had basically been working out in the field on my own for thirty years prior to starting the job. However, from the outset I felt very welcome, valued, and comfortable working with my team. I have huge respect for my colleagues, and for the way they approach such important work with creativity and vigour. It felt so good to be part of this! I will always be a farmer and tech will never be my strong point but I got by (thanks Anna!) and “good enough” was often just that. 

In the middle of this year after thinking long and hard about it. I decided that now was a good time to pass on the baton, given that another three-year phase was on the horizon. I felt that the Ireland office needed more time and energy to make the most out of it, that it was a job for someone younger. So, I would like to welcome Richie Walsh who will take on my role in the new year. It feels like the foundations we have built are good and strong but that there will be further energy required to raise the walls, and I have no doubt Richie will deliver on that. I am proud to have taken things this far and of what I have achieved but I also know that the time has come for me to move on. 

So, what will I do next? I hope to continue to grow food for us here and have a few breeding/seed projects on the go. It is also my intention to build a house on a piece of land we bought a good many years ago. That’s probably another three-year project if I am honest so that will keep me busy. I also have notions of becoming the Brockwell Bake of Ireland but I haven’t told Andy Forbes yet! 

It’s been my great pleasure to work for the Gaia Foundation. Through it I’ve found my ecological and spiritual tribe and for that I am really grateful. I feel confident that there is so much more to come from the Seed Sovereignty Programme and very proud to have been in a small way part of it. I am told I won’t be allowed to disappear; I might even write the odd post. Hopefully our paths will continue to cross. 

Yours in seed solidarity, Jason x