Community seed projects help to protect threatened seed diversity

Published: 19 Jan 2016

Author: Charlotte Dove
Community seed projects help to protect threatened seed diversity

A new study published by London-based gardener, Charlotte Dove, suggests that community seed projects could be the answer to the UK’s lack of locally-grown seeds.

Saving seeds at the end of a crop’s cycle is essential in order to grow the same crop the next year, and yet very few gardeners in the UK still practise the ancient art of seed saving. Instead, most gardeners rely on purchasing their seeds from large distributors, with the result that seed saving skills have been largely lost from our gardening culture.

Charlotte's report examines over 20 community seed projects in America and Canada and looks at their role in maintaining seed diversity. She visited the projects in autumn 2015 in order to observe their practices and learn from their experiences.

The report finds that community seed saving projects have been instrumental in protecting seed diversity in America and Canada. The author identifies six main ways in which projects are helping to protect seed diversity including: raising awareness of seed issues and teaching seed saving skills; identifying and raising awareness of rare and unusual seeds; creating networks of farmers and gardeners to exchange seeds and skills; and, paving the way for the establishment of numerous independent seed companies.

Charlotte is a member of the London Freedom Seed Bank (LFSB), a network of food growers dedicated to saving, storing and distributing seed, and will be working with the LFSB Steering Group to develop their strategy and community outreach. It is hoped that the report will also help to inspire and inform a greater diversity of seed saving ventures in the UK, in order to bring back seed saving skills and reduce our reliance on imported seed.

Charlotte’s research is funded by the WCMT in partnership with the Frank Jackson Foundation. For more information about the research trip and report findings, see her blog.

Charlotte will be speaking about her research at the Seed and Tree Festival in Glasgow on Saturday 6th February and LFSB’s Seedy Saturday on Saturday 5th March 2016.

Contact Charlotte: [email protected]