Incredible Edible Seed Swap @ The Garden Museum

We will again be joining Incredible Edible Lambeth for their seed swap event at the Garden Museum. We will have seeds from our network members available for distribution, and will be giving a short talk on the importance of seed saving at 2pm.

About this Event

This annual event is always really well attended and no one leaves it empty handed! If you have seeds to share, please bring some, marking the packet clearly so everyone knows what they are taking away with them.

Sat 8 February 2020

13:00 – 15:00 GMT

Add to Calendar

Location:

Garden Museum
5 Lambeth Palace Road
London
SE1 7LB

View Map

Free / Donation

Last few tickets for training day this Sunday

We still have a few tickets left for our Day of Learning at Walworth Garden this Sunday, 17th November, from 10.30-4.30.

The morning will be an introduction to different types of seed bank, and cover the basics of good practice in drying, cleaning, storage, and record keeping, with guest speaker Fred Groom, from independent seed company Vital Seeds.

The afternoon session will be more hands-on, as we clean, sort, pack and label the London Freedom Seed Bank 2019 harvest, in preparation for distribution through community events and outreach. You will gain experience of cleaning and sorting seed, including use of the London Freedom Seed Bank’s seed cleaning machine. You are also welcome to bring your own seed for cleaning with our seed cleaning machine.

This event is free to attend, but incurs a £10 refundable deposit, which will be returned to you after the day. Booking essential, please book your ticket here: https://walworthgarden.org.uk/caring-for-a-community-seed-collection

We hope to see you there! 🙂

Caring for a Community Seed Collection

You are warmly invited to our Day of Learning, taking place at Walworth Garden on Sunday 17th November 2019, 10:30-16:30. 

Have you ever thought about creating your own community seed collection or do you worry that your saved seeds aren’t stored correctly? Then join us for Caring for a Community Seed Collection. We have teamed up with Community Seed Banks Academy and Vital Seeds to cover the basics of good practice in drying, cleaning and storage of seed. There will be hands-on experience of cleaning, sorting, packing, and labelling as we process the London Freedom Seed Bank 2019 harvest, in preparation for distribution through community events. You are also welcome to bring your own seed for cleaning through our seed cleaning machine!

This event is free to attend, but incurs a £10 refundable deposit, which will be returned to you after the day.

Booking required, limited places: here.

LONDON FREEDOM SEED BANK News

Dear friends,

Have you ever thought about creating your own community seed collection or do you worry that your saved seeds aren’t stored correctly? We’ve got just the event for you! Join us for ‘Caring for a Community Seed Collection’ on Sunday 17th November at Walworth Garden. We have teamed up with Community Seed Banks Academy and Vital Seeds to cover the basics of good practice in drying, cleaning and storage of seed. There will be hands-on experience of cleaning, sorting, packing, and labelling as we process the London Freedom Seed Bank 2019 harvest, in preparation for distribution through community events. You are also welcome to bring your own seed for cleaning through our seed cleaning machine! Booking required, limited places: here

Before that, we’re co-hosting Seeds Stories and Symbionts with the Roving Microscope and Connected Seeds Library on 27th October. Part of Spitalfields City Farm’s wildlife appreciation day, we will explore the human and more-than-human stories that are carried by our seeds, taking a closer look at their shapes and textures and meeting some of the microscopic communities that inhabit them. Bring some seeds or seed stories along. Tickets here.

Field-drying seed at Shoulder to Shoulder Farm, Oregon

Field-drying seed at Shoulder to Shoulder Farm, Oregon. Photo: Richard Galpin

It’s been a busy few months for us. Back in August LFSB’s Richard Galpin caught up with Frank Morton in Oregon, USA, the legendary seed farmer and experimental plant breeder. “I turned up unannounced to Frank’s farm towards the end of the working day and found Frank enjoying the hazy sunshine amongst the flowering lettuce heads at the edge of his four acre plot,” Richard says, “Frank was gracious enough to show me around the farm. It was incredible to see the 150 seed crops he’s growing this year alone, and pick up some tips for field-drying seed crops, and see the way he harvested and cleaned seed, including the awesome Winnow Wizard a seed cleaning machine designed by Mark Luterra, one of the farm hands.

Most exciting of all, I got the answer to the question I went there to find out: What were the parents of the Mayan Jaguar lettuce? (One of Frank’s farm-bred lettuces which is itself, one of the parents of my London-bred Bloody Marvel lettuce). The answer was Crisp Mint crossed with  Forellenschluse’ (meaning speckled like a trout’s back) AKA ‘Flashy Trout Back’. No surprise that the red flecked heritage variety Flashy Trout Back was somewhere there in the mix.”

Richard and Frank

Richard and Frank

At the start of September, we helped launch the Wellcome Collection’s new permanent gallery, Being Human. For the next 10 years, London Freedom Seed Bank seeds (Latte Calaloo, Fiesta Corn and Bloody Marvel Lettuce) will be on display. The work of the seed savers within our network is celebrated as a hopeful response to environmental breakdown. It is so encouraging to see large, mainstream organisations like the Wellcome Trust recognise the important work seed savers do. Read more about the exhibit here.

D_1vwjEWkAAAf2P

We’ve been busy too with a late summer/ early Autumn full of workshops, talks and activism. It seems like there’s a real appetite for fully closing the loop to community self sufficiency and sourcing organic, open-pollinated seed. On a larger scale, increasing work with the UK food sovereignty movement and Extinction Rebellion, highlight the important contributions seed savers make to fighting biodiversity collapse, increasing resilience to climate breakdown and building a more just, healthy food system. More on this soon!

Finally, if you haven’t already, it’s time to get cracking with your seed collecting. In-breeders like tomatoes, french beans, lettuce and peas are a good place to start. Julie Riehl guides you through it here.

Get in touch if you have any seed to donate to the bank! We’d love to hear from you.

 

Charlotte, Richard, Julie and Helene

London Freedom Seed Bank Team

Lead image: CC: Wellcome Collection 

Autumn Seed Saving Tips – Where to begin

Since we’re now deep in Autumn, it’s definitely time to save your seeds! If you’ve been planning to save seeds since the spring- congrats, but If you are wondering what you can do now, not to worry, you can still save seeds and carry a bit of your garden for next year’s crops.

The easier plants to save seeds from are in-breeders: they won’t cross with other varieties from the same species and so what you save, is what will grow the next year: tomatoes, french beans, lettuce and peas.

For peas and french beans, simply let a few pods from your favorite and healthiest plants dry directly on the plant, until brown, and crunchy to the touch. Then, on a sunny day and when the pods aren’t damp, pick them, shell the seeds and store the seeds in a good container (old jars work wonders).

For tomatoes, pick a ripe beautiful tomato from your healthiest plant. Squeeze the juice, pulp and seeds in a glass jar. Add a bit of cold water, pierce a few holes in the lid and leave the jar closed on a countertop, out of direct sunlight, for up to two weeks. You want a layer of mould to develop on the top of the liquid. Once it’s ready (appropriately mouldy), rinse and clean the the seeds and let them dry on a paper towel for a day or so. Once they are dry, store them out of sunlight.

If you are growing a lettuce you love (that is not from the cabbage family like rocket, or japanese greens), then let one of your plant go to seed. Once the seed head is brown and dry, cut it and shake it into a paper bag on a dry day. The seeds will be mixed with chaff. You can reduce the amount of chaff by using a seed cleaner (we have one available at the Seed Bank!), or by pouring the seeds from one jar to another and gently blowing on the moving flow of seeds. The chaff is lighter and will fly away, so better do that outside. Store the seeds away from sunlight.

And for all your saved seeds, please be sure to label all your seed packets, and write at least the variety and the year harvested. We advise to keep track of a bit moreIf you have saved some seeds you’d like to share with the London Freedom seed bank, please get in touch!

Seeds & Being Human

In September, we joined a bunch of others at the launch of Being Human, the next permanent gallery at the Wellcome Collection. Divided into sections on genetics, minds and bodies, infection and environmental breakdown, the exhibition explores what it means to be human in the 21st century. It displays around 50 artworks and objects exploring our changing relationships to ourselves, each other and the world around us. 

In the section on environmental breakdown, lodged between some seed packets from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and a banner from the Standing Rock, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, were some of our London Freedom Seed Bank seeds. 

Curator Clare Barlow said, “It’s hard to think of a bigger challenge to human health than environmental breakdown.  In ‘Being Human’, we wanted to present the scale of the problem and highlight some of the many ways that individuals and groups are responding to what is being lost.  We included seeds from London Freedom Seedbank alongside large-scale initiatives like Svalbard Global Seed Vault to make the point that all of us can think about our personal impact, and consider what we can do in the face of this global threat.”

It is refreshing to see a large institution like the Wellcome Trust take environmental breakdown seriously and present seed conservation, whether large-scale or smaller, as a serious and hopeful response.

We chose to exhibit three varieties which we felt together represented the London bank well and our diverse network of seed savers. They will be displayed at the Wellcome Collection for the next 10 years.

 

Calaloo Latte

Calaloo is from a group of plants called Amaranths, all of which have edible seeds and leaves. They have been cultivated in many parts of the world and have developed a huge variety of leaf colours, shapes and sizes. Amaranths go under many names including Calaloo, Laf Sag, Lalshank and Tangerio.

For leaf production, pick off shoots or young leaves as soon as they are large enough to handle. Young leaves can be eaten raw and larger leaves cooked. If growing for seed, then harvesting of leaves should be kept to a minimum to encourage good yields. The seeds are high in protein and gluten-free, which has led to Amaranths being known in the West as a ‘superfood’.

OrganicLea, a workers’ co-operative growing food in Chingford, donated Calaloo Latte to the Seed Bank. They acquired the variety from a Pakistani woman in Leyton.  

Fiesta corn

Fiesta corn (Zea mays everta) is a beautiful type of popping corn. Popping corn will ripen slightly quicker than sweetcorn, making it more suited to the London climate. can be milled into flour or used to make tasty popcorn. These seeds are the second London- saved generation, grown and saved by Julie Smith at Regent’s Park Allotment Garden.

It produces somewhat shorter plants than sweetcorn (up to 1.5m), with some variations in the colour of the stem and silk (everything from light green to purple stems and silks). The ears can grow fairly big and the plant produces cobs with mixed kernels of yellow, red, black, purple, pink, as well as marbled kernels. Some cobs came almost fully black.

Bloody Marvel Lettuce

Bred by Richard Galpin in Walworth, South London, it is inspired by research Bloody Cos variety, also known as Spotted Aleppo which originated in Syria in the 18th Century. The parent plants for Bloody Marvel were Marvel of Four Seasons and Majan Jaguar, selected through the 2017 Walworth Lettuce Trials for their suitability for London growing conditions. They were then manually cross-pollinated and the resulting cross selected for desirable characteristics – resilience, red flecks of colour, vigour and taste. This is only the third generation and so plants will vary considerably. 

 

The exhibition is now open to the public and well worth a visit. 

LONDON FREEDOM SEED BANK News


Bloody Marvel Lettuce about to flower, June 2019, photo: Richard Galpin

Dear members and friends of the London Freedom Seed Bank,

Whether you’re new to seed saving, an established saver wanting to try out some new varieties, running a relevant community event, or keen on the politics of the seed trade, we’ve got it all for you this month.

First up, we’re excited to share with you a project which has been some time in the making. Last year, we teamed up with Global Generation for the Seeds For a Better World project. A key outcome of this collaboration is the London Mobile Seed Bank. A portable, interactive tool, the bank contains 20 of our favourite freedom seed varieties along with the stories of those who saved them. Artist-researcher duo Sara Heitlinger and Franc Purg made the bank with the Seed Sisters, young people working with Global Generation on seed politics and saving. The outcome is beautiful and has been enthusiastically received so far. We’ll be taking the bank to community events across London so get in touch if you’re hosting an event that might like it.

photo: global generation

Our featured variety this month is the experimental  Bloody Marvel Lettuce. Bred by our own Richard Galpin in Walworth, South London, it is inspired by research Bloody Cos variety, also known as Spotted Aleppo which originated in Syria in the 18th Century. The parent plants for Bloody Marvel were Marvel of Four Seasons and Majan Jaguar, selected through the 2017 Walworth Lettuce Trials for their suitability for London growing conditions. They were then manually cross-pollinated and the resulting cross selected for desirable characteristics – resilience, red flecks of colour, vigour and taste. This is only the third generation and so plants will vary considerably. Community gardens are being asked to help trial this variety and report back on the results, in a collective effort to develop a new London variety. Get in touch if you’d like to trial the next generation.

photo: Richard Galpin

New to seed saving?  Where to start?

If you are new to seed saving, but want to give it a go – it’s not too late for this growing season as some seeds can be saved from plants you are already growing for food. The easiest plants to save seeds are self-pollinated (the pollination happens within the plants’ own flowers, with no pollen being transported from another flower via wind or insects). Which means the seeds will grow to become a plant with the same characteristics as the parent plant – it comes ‘true to type’. So, the easiest plants to save seeds from are the following:

  • Tomatoes
  • French beans (not runner beans)
  • Lettuce
  • Peas

Initially grow just as you would for eating, and we’ll be posting more seed saving tips in the next newsletter, as the crops mature.


Reading on Seed

Here is our own Helene Schulze writing in Anthroposphere about some of her research into the UK seed saving scene:

Fostering concern for seed preservation is essential for the potential thriving of human and non-human life on Earth. By supplementing national and international seed banking networks, individual and community seed saving initiatives are taking this important conservation work into their own hands. [They show us how] resistance to corporate domination and resilience to climate change play out on a smaller scale.”

You can read the full article here

That’s all from us for now. Stay tuned for the next events we’ll be attending and hosting and as ever, let us know if you’re growing out our varieties. We’d love to see your pictures and feedback!

London Freedom Seed Bank team

Two seed swapping opportunities this weekend

Are you keen to get your hands on some London-grown, organic vegetable and flower seeds for FREE? The London Freedom Seed Bank will be taking seeds from our collection, grown by our network members, to a couple of events this weekend. Come and get your hands on some interesting varieties and find out more about what we do:

Biggin Woods Allotment Seed Swap, Saturday 23rd February, 1-3pm

@ St. Oswald Green Lane, Norbury, London SW16 3SB

AND

OrganicLea Open Day (12-4pm) and Seed Swap (1.30-3pm), Sunday 24th February

@ OrganicLea, 115 Hawkwood Crescent, Chingford, E4 7UH

OrganicLea’s monthly Open Day features a whole host of activities including a family art & craft session, farm stall, locally-produced lunch, coffee and cake, and site tours. For more details:  https://www.organiclea.org.uk/2019/02/february-2019-open-day/

We hope to see you there!

 

Out and about in February

The London Freedom Seed Bank will be out and about in February. We will be taking our collection of locally-grown, organic seeds to three upcoming events taking place in London. Come and find out more about what we do and pick up some seeds to take home.

Incredible Edible Lambeth’s Seed Swap, Saturday 9th February, 12-3pm

@ the Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7LB

The Seed Swap will be held in the main nave space of the museum. Please let front desk know that you are coming for the Seed Swap and entry is free. Bring seeds to share. Free seeds from Franchi Seeds will also be available.

 

Walworth Garden’s Seed Day, Sunday 17th February, 11am-4pm

@Walworth Garden, 206 Manor Place, SE17 3BN

A free day of training about why save seeds, how to save seeds, and a guide to successful seed sowing. Booking open to Lambeth and Southwark residents only: www.walworthgarden.org.uk 

 

Seed day poster

 

OrganicLea’s Open Day, Sunday 24th February, 12-4pm 

@ OrganicLea, London E4 7UH

The Seed Swap will be held at OrganicLea’s monthly Open Day. There will also be delicious lunch, cake and drinks available, plus kids activities, farm stall and site tours.

https://www.organiclea.org.uk/whats-on/open-days-at-hawkwood/ 

 

 

 

 

Join us at IEL’s annual Seed Swap – Sat 9th Feb

Come and join us at Incredible Edible Lambeth’s annual Seed Swap at the Garden Museum on Saturday 9th February from 12-3pm.

Are you keen to get your hands on some seeds that have been grown and saved in London using organic principles? This could be your chance! The London Freedom Seed Bank will be there with a selection of seeds saved by our network members including heritage tomatoes, lettuces, beans and pollinator-friendly flowers.

If you are interested in learning about how to save the seeds from your favourite vegetable crops then some of our network members will be on hand to answer your questions. We are also looking for donations for the seed bank so if you have surplus quantities of any seeds that you have saved then please bring them along.

Incredible Edible Lambeth (IEL) have secured a large donation of seeds from Franchi Seeds, a reputable Italian seed distributor, and will be giving these away for FREE!

For more info: https://www.incredibleediblelambeth.org/event/iel-seed-swap/

We hope to see you there!