Inspired by other areas of the UK & Ireland, Northern England seed saving networks, no strangers to the cooperative movement, are gathering pace, and we are full of beans…
The Northern Seed Network holds a range of different events for seed enthusiasts across the region. These include harvest celebrations, farm tours, workshops, swaps and social gatherings.
Events are added to our Eventbrite page and advertised via our social media channels listed above, where we also share other regional opportunities.
If you’ve a particular interest and would like to learn more, or if you’d like us to spread the word about your own seed event, please drop us a line by email.
Our training programme has three levels. The first focuses on the backdrop to seed sovereignty, and the basics of saving seed from a few of the simpler crops. These tend to be organised around local clusters of enthusiasts and last no more than a day. They’re great if you’re new to seed saving and want to have the skills and knowledge to get started.
The second level of our training lasts a full season. It’s delivered using a combination of online sessions, site visits and specialist workshops, with plenty of time built in to connect with other learners who share your interest in seed! Sessions take place once a month on an evening for an hour or two, with an occasional commitment of a day for a visit or workshop. The content is deeper than the introductory course, covering saving seed from the more complicated crops, processing seed and mechanisms for sharing, whether that is in a community setting or whether you’re looking to become a seed producer for sale. It’s suitable for those who’ve a few years seed saving under their belts, and who have access to a space for growing on a larger scale than home garden. This course is assessed using a series of homework tasks and a seed portfolio, but it’s not accredited – assessment just checks that your learning is going to plan.
The third level, our advanced training, is for those that have completed the second level or who have equivalent experience and knowledge, and delves deeper into specialist areas. Advanced training is delivered nationally and has recently included setting up a seed hub, international seed exchanges, and running a seed trial.
For an informal chat about training, please send an email.
Over the last couple of years we have found much enthusiasm, camaraderie and commitment amongst our networks and the numbers and enthusiasm are growing. We have also gathered around the theme of beans; with a special film and regional event to celebrate the wonders of beans of all sorts for health, soils and beauty!
We have a fledgling Northern Seed Hub, inspired by the Wales Seed Hub, the Scottish Seed Hub and the northern cooperative movements. ‘Northern Stories Seeds’ is focusing on the varieties that have particular significance to the region, and the characters and stories that are attached to them. The Northern Seed Hub meets online once every quarter to develop the project, and is always keen to hear from new enthusiasts.
Connection is vital to the Seed Sovereignty programme, and the northern seed network is a great opportunity to stay in touch. There are regular social gatherings across the region and an active WhatsApp group to share ideas. Contact us to find out more (see the top of this page for all contact details).
The Seed Coop: In Lincolnshire, the Seed Coop is arguably not the northern most, however, it is one of the largest seed companies in the country. It hosts significant infrastructure for all seed growers across these lands with a huge site, much under glass growing, a wide range of seed processing machinery and set up with knowledge from experts in the field, who’ve been saving for over 30 years. As a community benefit society you can join as a member, it is also a community-supported initiative. We have been lucky enough to visit as part of our yearlong training.
Esk Valley Seeds: Whilst the company is not selling seeds directly, they continue infrastructure for growing and saving seed and maintaining varieties in North Yorkshire, near to the former Stormy Hall Seeds. Seed is then produced for the Seed Coop which they were instrumental in helping set up.
Lancaster Seed Library: A well-established Seed Library run out of Lancaster Central Library set up nearly 10 years ago, with satellite libraries, called sew and sow libraries, established during the 2020 lockdowns and which offer locally-saved open-pollinated seed along with sowing kits to locals.