Caring for a Community Seed Bank
Day of Learning @Walworth Gardens (17.11.19, 10:30-4:30)
by Sophia Doyle
On Sunday the 17th November London Freedom Seedbank and friends came together at the beautiful Walworth Gardens for a Day of Learning about how to create and care for your own community seed collection.
A round of introductions revealed that we were a varied group of people from all walks of life. Many in the room had a background in gardening and permaculture, some worked in those fields, and others were students or doing courses in horticulture or herbal medicine. After an introductory talk on the London Freedom Seed Bank Charlotte introduced us to different kinds of community seed projects. She explained how they differ from each other, and how different types can facilitate varied engagement with seed politics. The distinction was made between Seed Libraries, Community Seed Banks, Grower Networks and Mobile Seed Banks, and how each of these achieve or centre different aspects of seed saving and seed sovereignty.
After this Fred Groom from the independent seed company Vital Seeds shared different ways to process seed, the basics of drying, cleaning and storing seed. It was fascinating to get an insight into the specifics of seed processing and storage, down to details such as what kind of mesh to use for screening the seed to separate it from the chaff. He also provided us with some tips and tricks for storing the seed, such as using silica gel or rice to make sure no moisture remains in the seed for long-term storage, and freezing the seed to kill off insects (especially relevant for pulses).
After a lunch break we continued with the practical part of the day, when we learned how to separate, store and label seed from different types (endives, spinach, fennel) and the importance of correct and detailed labelling. The more information the better! My personal highlight of the afternoon was Richard demonstrating the seed cleaning machine he built from the open-source plans provided by Real Seeds. He also talked in detail about the specifics of saving lettuce seed.
Finally, the day ended with a collective seed swap. Some of us had brought seeds from our own gardens and everyone was encouraged to take some of the seed we had packed up previously. Soon these seeds will be planted again for the next round of London growing, cropping and seed saving.
Sophia Doyle is an MA student at Goldsmiths focusing on Seed Sovereignty, Political Ecology and Indigenous and rural activist movements. (She got involved with London Freedom Seed Bank after attending this event).
Slides from the presentations on the day are available on our resources page here