Wales Seed hub

A unique seed-selling coop, the Wales Seed Hub, is now offering gardeners a range of Welsh-grown seed of heritage and amateur vegetable varieties

This is no ordinary seed company. For a start, the seed is all grown on members’ farms (in contrast to most seed you buy in the UK which is grown abroad – often as far afield as China). In addition, the growers choose varieties which thrive in the often challenging climate in Wales – and some of these varieties have been grown there for many years.

Most of the growers are market gardeners. They don’t use chemicals but use environmentally friendly methods to grow their crops, and most produce seed of just two or three vegetable varieties. However, they join together to monitor seed quality, and to license, packet and market it, so the Hub has a range of varieties to sell.

One example is the ‘District Nurse’ borlotti bean. In the 1990s, an elderly lady in Cardiff gave some seeds of this bean to her district nurse, who in turn passed them to her stepdaughter, and they have been grown and passed around amongst keen gardeners ever since. The climbing plants have pretty lilac flowers and pods splashed with dark purple. The pods can be eaten fresh when young and tender, or the beans inside dried and used in winter soups and casseroles.

Seeds of this variety were grown for the Seed Hub by Carolyn and Paul on their One Planet Development smallholding in Pontyates. Another Welsh-grown French bean is ‘Melbourne’s Mini’, grown in the Dyfi valley for many years by Syd Melbourne, and produced for the Hub by Cultivate Community Garden in mid Wales.

‘Melbourne’s Mini’

Other varieties are more familiar – but are chosen because they do well less favoured areas: for example, the cordon tomato ‘Ailsa Craig’ was bred in Scotland in the early 1900s and is early maturing as well as tasty; and the winter squash ‘Blue Hubbard’ is a traditional reliable variety, good for storage.

All these varieties and more are available from:
https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/hwb-hadau-cymru-wales-seed-hub/shop#/shop

Find out more about the Hub at:
https://www.seedhub.wales/


Tony Flanagan
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