The South East of England has long been associated with seed production due to its good soils, high light levels and dryer climate. During the height of production, over two thousand acres of vegetable seeds were grown in Essex alone. It’s not surprising that the South East is home to many seed companies, as well a vibrant network of farmers, growers and organisations who recognise the fundamental importance of seeds. Through their work of breeding and maintaining varieties, organising seed exchanges and running seed banks, they are continuing this strong tradition.
We are currently looking for expressions of interest for our 2024 year long course in seed production. See our training page for more information and get in touch via the email above.
Events are also advertised via our social media channels listed above, where we also share other regional opportunities. If you’d like us to spread the word about your own seed event please drop us a line by email.
As across the Programme, our seed politics and practice training is the core of our work here in the Southeast and we are lucky to run them in collaboration with some of the most inspiring growers, trainers and projects across the region.
We offer in-depth introductory programmes, equipping participants from community and commercial backgrounds with the theory and practice to get going with seed saving, either over four-weeks online or over the course of a day in-person.
We launched our first intermediate year-long seed production training in Autumn 2022. This is a hybrid training, partially online and partially on farms across the South East, giving participants a thorough grounding in how to incorporate seed production into their growing and businesses.
Get in touch if you are interested in either of these training opportunities.
When we think of seed sovereignty, we rarely think of urban spaces yet in cities across the UK and Ireland, seed savers are actively building urban crop diversity. The diversity of people which characterises our cities is reflected in the crops grown there, much of this thanks to migrant communities which have brought seeds from across the world building rich cultural, culinary and crop diversity to our cities. This film by Andy Pilsbury sheds light on the seed sovereignty movement in London.
Guildford Seed Bank was launched in 2021. The collective is made up of home gardeners and allotment holders, with contributions from local small-scale commercial veg and flower growers based in SW Surrey and East Hampshire. Members grow 2 – 3 crops annually and the seed is distributed to the community via local libraries, schools and at the Surrey Seed Swap.
Hodmedods is a Suffolk based company working with farmers to bring traditional and new pulses and grains to the market. They focus particularly on rare, native foods like fava beans, black badger peas and quinoa.
London Freedom Seed Bank is a network of food growers and gardeners in London dedicated to saving, storing and sharing open-pollinated seed. For the past decade, they have built a large, living collection of London-grown seed and an enthusiastic network of growers passing on the skills of saving seed.
Open Pollinated Seeds is an initiative established to spread awareness about the importance of natural propagation and regeneration of vegetable seeds. The organisation provides training, information and insight around seed production, biodiversity and food culture. They have also developed a logo to help consumers identify Open Pollinated seeds and produce.
Seedy Saturday is a seed swap held on the first Saturday of February each year in Lewis, Sussex. In addition to swapping seeds there’s a programme of speakers, workshops, children’s activities and stalls.
Seedy Sunday Brighton is the UK’s oldest and largest seed swap, hosting between two and three thousand people. The event was established in 2002 and runs on the first Sunday of February each year. Alongside the seed swap table, the event includes diverse speakers, over fifty community and commercial stalls, children’s activities and a pop-up café.
South East Grain Alliance is a regional arm of the UK Grain Network, connecting farmers bakers and millers interested in working together using locally grown alternative grains, instead of modern commodity varieties.
Wakelyns is an organic agroforestry, food and horticulture hub in Suffolk. Particularly known for Martin Woolf’s work producing the YQ and Q Population Wheat, it’s also one of the longest-established agroforestry farms in the UK.
Waltham Place is a 220-acre organic and biodynamic estate in Berkshire, working to build biodiversity through mixed farming with livestock, cereals and commercial vegetable seed production, to create a sustainable and balanced farming system. They hold courses throughout the year on farming and gardening including seed saving.