From 18th to 22nd of January, seed savers and gardeners from across the country will celebrate
Seed Week, an annual online event highlighting the essential work of organic and agro-ecological
seed producers and sellers selecting and growing the finest seed across the UK and Ireland.
Lockdown seed boom
Empty supermarket shelves during lockdown in the UK and Ireland last year inspired a wave of
home growing and a huge surge of interest in locally produced seed.
“People crave connection. They want connection with other people and connection with the
planet, and growing and saving seed is a way of getting both,” says David Price of the
Lincolnshire-based Seed Cooperative.
Suppliers of UK-grown ecological seed like Real Seeds, Vital Seeds, and the Seed Cooperative
saw a 600% year-on-year increase in orders, and many community groups have come together to
start seed libraries and organise seed swaps.
Not all seed is created equal
“We’re already seeing a huge shift in behaviour when it comes to choosing which seed to plant,
and when it comes to seeds, buying local really does matter. By buying seed that has been grown
locally, you’re buying seeds that have already adapted to your climate, weather, and growing
conditions,” says Sinead Fortune from The Gaia Foundation’s Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland
Programme which supports the agro-ecological seed sector.
“Seeds that have been grown in an agroecological way – free of chemical fertilisers and pesticides
– are better for the ecosystem in which they are grown and are stronger, more resilient seeds that
in turn need less inputs to thrive. What’s more, when you buy open-pollinated (OP) seeds, it
means that you can save the seeds to grow on next year – which will produce crops that are even
more suited to your particular growing conditions”, says Fortune.
But while the movement towards a regenerative, resilient, and sustainable food system is growing,
it cannot be achieved without fair, resilient and sustainable seed at its heart.
During Seed Week 2021, The Gaia Foundation and partners across the UK and Ireland will
highlight stories of growers starting out, of old traditions revived, and of varieties weird and
wonderful, as well as where to buy the most sustainable seed on the market as the UK enters
another period of pandemic lockdown.
For more information about Gaia’s UK and Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme,
visit www.seedsovereignty.info and www.gaiafoundation.org
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