About the Seed Sovereignty Programme

The Seed Sovereignty Programme of the UK & Ireland aims to support the development of a biodiverse and ecologically sustainable seed system here on home soil. Working closely with farmers, seed producers and partners across the seed sector, together we want more agro-ecological seed produced by trained growers, to conserve threatened varieties and to breed more varieties for future resilience.

The programme is being led by The Gaia Foundation who have been working on seed and knowledge for over three decades both in the UK and overseas.


  • To support and cultivate regional and national connections and collaboration to provide coherence across the food and seed sector.
  • To support farmers and growers with further skills, resources and information.
  • To foster a more supportive environment for a biodiverse and ecologically sustainable seed system to thrive.


  • Strengthen networks and support hubs of seed producers across the UK & Ireland
  • Train farmers & growers in seed production, processing and storage
  • Lobby with partners for changes to legislation that encourage small-scale seed producers
  • Establish a database providing useful information on varieties, by growers for growers
  • Variety trials designed to assess varieties suitable for agro-ecological cultivation and their ability to produce seed in various landscapes and climates across the UK and Ireland
  • Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) with researchers and breeders
  • Raise awareness amongst new farmers and growers and the general public on the issues of seeds, their provenance and their production

Regional Coordinators

Meet the Coordinators who are based across the UK and Ireland...

Maria Scholten
Regional Coordinator for Scotland

Maria is supporting growers and crofters across Scotland. She has been working in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland collaborating and advising on seed issues and policy with the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) for many years.

Katie Hastings
Regional Coordinator for Wales

Katie is coordinating the seed sovereignty programme in Wales. She is also co-founder of the community organisation Mach Maethlon which works to strengthen food sovereignty in Mid Wales.

Melanie Fryer
Regional Coordinator for Northern England

Melanie was brought up on a small dairy farm in the Yorkshire Dales and Still lives in the same village. Melanie is qualified in Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and now works in all these areas. She have been growing fruit and veg for many years and joined the BDA in 2011. This fostered her interest in seed saving which she is continuing to develop.

Ellen Rignell
Regional Coordinator for Western England

Ellen is supporting growers in the West of England to increase their seed production. She also works for Trill Farm Garden, a small-scale vegetable garden which supplies produce to restaurants and grows seed for the Real Seed Catalogue.

Wayne Frankham
Regional Coordinator for Ireland

Wayne is supporting growers across Ireland, working under the Irish Seed Savers Association. Wayne has worked as a Community Organic Gardener since 2006, growing & selling produce, co-ordinating a community seed system.

Neil Munro
Programme Manager

Neil is leading the UK & Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme, connecting and supporting seed growers right across the country. Neil is based in the midlands and many know him as the former Head of the Heritage Seed Library at Garden Organic.

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