From Monday 18th March, small-scale seed producers across the UK and Ireland will be celebrating Seed Week to raise awareness of the benefits of buying locally grown and adapted, organic seed.
Seed Week is coordinated by The Gaia Foundation who are leading the Seed Sovereignty UK and Ireland programme in partnership with groups including the Soil Association, the Landworkers Alliance, Irish Seed Savers Association and the Seed Cooperative. The programme aims to increase the diversity of seed being grown on home soil by supporting budding and existing small-scale seed producers.
Rowan Phillimore, Deputy Director of the Gaia Foundation states,“It surprises most people to know that the majority of the food labelled organic on our supermarket shelves is unlikely to be grown originally from organic seed. Whilst the produce itself will have been grown using chemical free methods, the seed will most likely have been imported from Europe and grown with chemicals, because there simply isn’t the home grown, organic seed available in sufficient quantities yet. There is a huge opportunity here to close this gap, creating a truly ecologically sound food system from seed to plate. What’s more, this is an extremely viable market. There is great potential for committed organic seed producers and we’re trying to support them. The best way that growers across the British Isles and Ireland can do the same, is to buy seed directly from one of these small-scale producers.”
Neil Munro, the Programme Manager adds “Seed Week is really about pointing gardeners and growers in the right direction to find good quality seed varieties grown nearby, and therefore adapted to their growing conditions. Small producers like Real Seeds in Wales, Vital Seeds in Devon, the Seed Cooperative in Lincolnshire and the Irish Seed Savers are all committed to cultivating the most delicious and resilient varieties that we have to offer here on home soil. Supporting them is a vote for small-scale farming and a vote for environmentally conscious gardening.”
Seed Week will also raise awareness of the consolidation of the global seed industry and the grave risk that this poses to global food security. Wayne Frankham, the programme’s Regional Coordinator for Ireland, points out,“Just four seed companies now control 60% of the global seed market. They have a monopoly and set the agenda for seed – the very heart of all life. It is critical that to counter this risk, small-scale producers are supported as they are the bastions of diversity. It is this diversity which will be critical in the future as the impacts of climate change are widely felt and crops suffer in unexpected ways. We must take a stand to buffer diversity in the UK and Ireland, and that’s what this work is all about.”
Learn more about Seed Week and the work of the five regional coordinators here.
Seed Week will run from Monday 18th– Friday 22ndMarch. Follow the campaign @GaiaFoundation and find out more about where you can source locally adapted, organic seed this spring, by visiting www.seedsovereignty.info
For press enquiries please contact Rowan Phillimore at The Gaia Foundation on 07748945204 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviews can be arranged with any of the programme’s Regional Coordinators or the Programme Manager.
Professional photographs and film are available upon request to accompany this story.
A series of short films featuring small-scale producers from across the UK and Ireland can be viewed here: https://www.seedsovereignty.info/videos/
About The Gaia Foundation
We are a small organisation with over 30 years’ experience accompanying partners, communities and movements around the world to revive bio-cultural diversity, to regenerate healthy ecosystems and to strengthen community self-governance for climate change resilience.
Seed and food sovereignty for climate change resilience is a core part of Gaia’s work. Food sovereignty is defined as ‘the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and regenerative methods’. Food which is local, is grown in nourished not intoxicated soils, and is rich in nutrients. This goes beyond food ‘security’; it prioritises local and national economies and markets over international trade, and our responsibility to future generations of all species through the way in which we grow our food.