The Seed Co-operative’s mission is to sow the seeds of a healthy and resilient organic food system that promotes diversity, democracy and a closer relationship with our food and those who grow it. They grow, process and sell organic, open-pollinated seed in the UK as well as developing new varieties through organic plant breeding.
Founded in 2014 and based in Lincolnshire, they are a Community Benefit Society with membership open to everyone: farmers, growers, home gardeners, chefs, professionals and amateurs alike. This co-operative business model reflects the ethos of what they do, building a community around seed with diversity of ownership and shared knowledge.
On 9November 2019 the Seed Co-operative held a members day and AGM at Waltham Place in Berkshire. The team at Waltham Place were one of the fifteen farms that grew seed for the Seed Co-operative in 2019. The photo above is of the pumpkin crop being grown for seed last season.
Gaia Foundation will be working with Seed Co-operative next year to provide more support to this network of growers producing seed for them and provide training for others who are interested in improving their skills and exploring the potential of growing a seed crop for the Seed Co-operative in future.
The London Freedom Seed Bank is a London-wide network of seed savers, community gardeners and food justice activists. They run a number of events to help people engage with seeds and seed saving including an annual training programme for Freedom Seed Savers and a mobile seed library. On 17 November 2019, they ran a training day at Walworth Garden teaching others how to care for a community seed collection.
In September, three seeds from London Freedom Seed Bank’s collection (Latte Calaloo, Fiesta Corn and Bloody Marvel Lettuce) were included in the launch the Wellcome Collection’s new permanent gallery, Being Human. The exhibition explores what it means to be human in the 21st century and displays around 50 artworks and objects exploring our changing relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us.
Curator Clare Barlow said, “It’s hard to think of a bigger challenge to human health than environmental breakdown. In ‘Being Human’, we wanted to present the scale of the problem and highlight some of the many ways that individuals and groups are responding to what is being lost. We included seeds from London Freedom Seedbank alongside large-scale initiatives like Svalbard Global Seed Vault to make the point that all of us can think about our personal impact, and consider what we can do in the face of this global threat.”
Both the London Freedom Seed Bank and the Seed Co-operative are definitely taking action to create the changes they want to see in the world of seed, and enabling others to get involved in that change as well.