On the first Sunday this March, nearly 200 people visited the Irish Seed Savers in rural County Clare, for our most successful Seed Share to date. This is a working farm in East Clare and visitors came from all around the country. They included members, previous visitors, and over 1/3rd newcomers – including allotmenteers from the London Freedom Seed Bank, and a seed advocate on vacation, who trials crop varieties for the Organic Seed Alliance in America.


As special as seed shares or swaps are – for thrift, discovery & sharing nature’s bounties – they’re every bit as valuable as opportunities to discover the other growers in your area, which invariably leads to the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and quests. A visitor hoping to crop his own grain and straw has been seeking a compact combine which he’s seen African and Asian footage of. Running on a small 5.5hp Honda engine, the units can be self propelled with wheeled or tracked variants, fit on a car trailer, and can bag the crop for a single operator, working an acre in a few hours. Sounds very useful, has had him laughed out of machinery dealers, and is proving entirely elusive – can any of you offer a useful lead?


The new friends from London introduced me to www.heritagefoodcrops.org.nz whose research indicates some of the significant health benefits of certain heritage crops over many modern varieties. Other conversations discussed promising permaculture plans with aspirations for social inclusion and education; while another swap conversation a week ago gave anecdotal evidence of successful treatment of late blight using Effective Microorganisms. Used internationally for purification, inoculation and soil activation, here it came as a byproduct of Bokashi, the anaerobic kitchen waste compost method, offering additional benefits to waste problem solutions with convenient nutrient cycling. The conversations may digress, but at their core is a desire to develop sustainable, agro-ecological solutions for the benefit of people, planet, and all inhabitants with equal respect.


Seed events and trainings throughout Ireland are finding equal interest and participation from domestic, commercial and community growers, as well as culinary professionals and consumers exploring food provenance, authenticity, ethics – and stories.


Irish Seed Savers offer seed saving courses at their dedicated facilities, and can visit groups nationwide to provide talks and workshops. This week we had 15 growers and crop trialers attending the 2nd of 4 comprehensive ‘Seed to Seed’ seasonal trainings for growers developing their experienced seed production skills, to become seed guardians or producers. The next Seed to Seed series begins this November. One day trainings at Seed Savers will begin in the Autumn.

Seed training is also available from our friends at Brown Envelope Seeds in Cork, True Harvest Seed in County Down, and Cloughjordan Community Farm whose next courses begin this April.


To arrange talks or training, get involved with informal seed trials, publicise your seed event; or just get connected with seed activities in Ireland, please contact me on seedoutreach@irishseedsavers.ie


Wayne Frankham, Seed Sovereignty Coordinator for Ireland at the Irish Seed Savers Association.