“The South West is home to a vibrant community of growers who are dedicated to establishing seed sovereignty in the region. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I’m proud to see how seed saving has become embedded into agroecological farming in the region.”
– Ellen Rignell, Seed Sovereignty Coordinator for South West England
South West Regional Coordinators, Robyn Minogue and Ellen Rignell have been working with farmers and growers across the region to help them cultivate diversity and overcome barriers to saving seed. Here’s an overview of the radical seed sovereignty movement in the South West.
Seed Sovereignty: Politics and Practice 2023
Applications are open for our South West year long course in seed production!
‘ The friendliness, authenticity, scientific and practical knowledge, diversity and kindness of those facilitating, teaching and providing material for the course has made this inspiring, encouraging, enjoyable and life changing.’ – 2022 participant
We’re looking for 12 budding seed growers to join our year long course in seed production. Facilitated by the South West Regional Coordinator and taught by experienced local seed growers, the aim of this course is to give you the knowledge and confidence to produce healthy seed crops. As well learning how to grow seed, we’ll look at why seed and seed sovereignty is vitally important to farming in the UK and beyond.
You’ll learn about all aspects of seed sovereignty and seed production, from fundamental theory to in depth information on selecting the best plants for seed.
‘Overall, I thought the course was brilliant. Really well delivered and thought out. It felt very inclusive and it provided a great opportunity to link into the SW network.’ – 2022 participant
This course will be a blend of online learning and farm visits. Participants are required to attend all essential sessions (as outlined in our course schedule), grow their own seed crop and fill out a record keeping portfolio to put theory into practice.
The course is offered on a sliding scale from £200-£0 with travel bursaries also available.
Application deadline: Monday 30th January
South West Grain Network are a group of bakers, millers and farmers and supporters who are taking active steps into an alternative grain economy, one that is human scale, non-commodity and grounded in friendship and collaboration. This network has grown in both number and strength since its formation; holding regular online and in person gatherings to solidify the networks aims and purpose.
South West Seed Savers: The South West Seed Savers’ Network is a group of small-scale, agroecological growers based across South West England who have been coming together since 2017.
‘We want to protect and increase crop diversity and grow varieties that are exciting, tasty and productive whilst also preserving the knowledge of seed saving. We welcome commercial growers from the South West with any level of experience in seed saving. Enthusiasm for seeds is a must!’ – South West Seed Savers
The group are building seed sovereignty by growing and exchanging seeds and sharing skills and knowledge within the group. They’re currently attempting to grow seed to supply group members with 25 of the most popular varieties. In some areas there are also local seed study groups, in which growers meet up for the evening and talk seeds.
Cornish Seed Savers: The Cornish seed savers are a freshly formed group of growers who run peer-to-peer sessions on different aspects of seed saving.
“Cornwall is on fire!!” – Robyn Minogue, Seed Sovereignty Coordinator for South West England
Exeter Seed Bank: Aiming to share knowledge about seed saving with the city and revive this ancient craft in the face of diminishing seed diversity. They are creating a seed bank that works for local climate and soil while protecting against biodiversity loss and climate change.
The Stroud Community Seed Bank (AKA Down to Earth Stroud): A team of volunteer seed guardians growing vegetables, herbs and flowers for seed in the back gardens, allotments and community plots of Stroud. Since 2016, the seed bank has gone from strength to strength and now offers a large range of locally grown seed.
Vital Seeds: Devon based seed company committed to growing and selling open pollinated, locally adapted seed.
Plant Genesis: Cornwall based seed company supplying flower and herb seeds to gardeners, nurseries and other growers. As primarily a seed distributor they are looking for local growers to grow seed for them, while also looking to transition to growing their own seed.
Earth Song Seeds: South West seed company specialising in medicinal herbs with a commitment to growing in a way that nurtures nature as well as self.
Beans and Herbs: Wiltshire based seed company producing a range of organic heritage bean and herb seeds
Sea Spring Seeds: – Dorset based seed company selling small packets of high-quality seed aimed at the home gardener market. They have a great range of seed varieties on offer, especially a tantalising list of chilli seed!