February Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Imbolc is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring, usually celebrated half-way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, or on the 1st February. It honours the lengthening days and the return of warmth, as the soils begin to thaw and the daffodils show their heads. As we move from the dark months into the light, we at the seed bank wrap up the last of the sorting, cleaning and packing of last year’s seed, to now share the seed harvest with our growers who themselves are starting to plan and sow for the year ahead.

Thank you to all who contributed to our 2019 collection! We’ve got some really interesting varieties to share with you at upcoming events. We are looking forward to getting out and about..

On Saturday 8th February we’ll be at the Incredible Edible Seed Swap at the Garden Museum. It’s always a lot of fun so come along with some seeds to share and say hi. We’ll be giving a short talk on the importance of saving seed at 2pm.
On Sunday 23rd February you’ll find us at Organiclea for a seed swap. It’s an open day and a great chance to see the beautiful site of this growing cooperative.
On Saturday 29th February we’ll be hosting a get-together with our network. We’ll be packing seed, sharing some snacks, planning the year ahead and having a natter. Come by if you want to meet the team. Get in touch at freedomseedbank@gmail.com.

Portmarron_lowresHubbard Squash ‘Potimarron’ seeds donated by network member Patrick McCabe.

Arriving just in time for the Incredible Edible seed swap this saturday is a fantastic contribution of pumpkin seeds from one our top London seed savers and network members Patrick McCabe at Gunsite Allotments, Dulwich. The variety is Potimarron (or Red Kuri) a type of Hubbard Squash that has smallish (1.3 – 3 kilo) pear shaped fruit with red-orange skin and bright orange flesh. This variety has been saved for 7 generations on Gunsite Allotments, without isolation, and is still growing true to type – which could perhaps suggest some resistance to cross-pollination. If it has, this could be very useful for London seed savers. Patrick describes the squash as a very versatile and delicious pumpkin with a chestnut flavour. Catch us at one of the events above if you want to give it a try.

A highlight from the last few months was the Caring for a Community Seed Bank day we ran back in November at Walworth Gardens. The main motivation here was to bolster and build up the number of people and groups maintaining seed collections in London. This is a step on from saving seed, to really learning the skills to dry, clean, store and record seed collections properly. Featuring guest speaker Fred Groom from Vital Seeds and a hands-on afternoon of seed cleaning with LFSB’s own seed cleaning machine, it was a varied and interesting day. Sophie Doyle, new LFSB recruit, has some reflections here.

Richard Galpin and the seed cleaning machine he built for the LFSB from open-source plans by Real Seeds.

Back in October, co-director Helene Schulze teamed up with community microscope club, the Roving Microscope, to host Seed Stories and Symbionts, an afternoon of discussion, microscope gazing and seed sharing. It was about investigating the human and more-than-human stories carried by seeds. Helene hosted a seed storytelling circle, a space where everyone who had brought seed had a chance to share the tales of where they had come from and what they meant to them. It was a beautiful session and we’ll share some more reflections soon.

PoppyseedPoppy seed under the microscope at Seed Stories and Symbionts

For seed saving newbies, co-director Julie Riehl has some growing tips to get the year off to a good start. Now is a good time to get the ball rolling on your sowing, beginning with tomatoes, peas, lettuce and french beans. Advice on growing conditions, sowing depth, when to plant out and which varieties to get for can all be found here.

Finally, whilst in Berlin for a big anti-industrial agriculture demonstration this January, Helene met Vandana Shiva, professor and probably the most well-known global seed activist. It was in response to her call back in 2012 for a global movement to occupy, protect and free seed that the London Freedom Seed Bank was born. She remembers our bank from its origin days. 8 years later, much in the LFSB has changed, but crucially we’re still going strong. For volunteer-run, community projects like ours, this is no small feat and something to be celebrated.

Anyone wanting to get more involved with us is always welcome!
We hope to catch you at one of the upcoming events,

Helene, Charlotte, Julie, Richard, Sophie

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