Join our seed saver network

We are recruiting new members to our Freedom Seed Saver Network! All new members will benefit from free training, support from our network of seed savers, and the chance to grow and save seeds for the Freedom Seed Bank.

We are offering new members the opportunity to take part in a series of workshops covering all the basics of saving seed for the most popular vegetable crops: in return we’d like you to grow and save seeds for the Freedom Seed Bank. The workshops will take place in the first half of 2018 at various community gardens across London.

Our network fosters peer-to-peer learning and support and so each of the workshops will be lead by a different network member. Each of the gardens that we visit will feature a seed saving garden/plot that has been established by one of our members.

The workshops will cover:

  • Botany for seed savers
  • Planning a seed saving garden
  • ‘How to’ guide for saving seeds of tomatoes, peas, beans and lettuces

There will be a total of 5 – 6 sessions with a minimum commitment of 4 sessions. Workshops will be approximately 2 to 3 hours on a Saturday morning, roughly once a month, plus optional trips or gatherings at other times. Exact timings and venues to be confirmed.

We are looking for people who already have knowledge and experience of food growing and have a space where you can grow seed crops (this could be a home, community or school garden).

This a great opportunity to receive FREE training, to learn about the lost art of seed saving and to help preserve our precious vegetable varieties for future generations.

If you are interested in taking part then please send an expression of interest (max 2 sides of A4) telling us about yourself and why you are interested in joining our network. The deadline for expressions of interest is Sunday 26th November.

Please send your expressions of interest or get in touch with any questions to: freedomseedbank@gmail.com.

 

Image: Lettuce seed heads, by Richard Galpin, Walworth Garden Lettuce Trials and London Freedom Seed Saving Project, 2017.

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Introduction to Seed Saving

We’re delighted that seed buddy Marco Bottingnole has been invited to lead a seed saving workshop by London’s largest food growing network and training provider, Capital Growth. Marco has been a seed buddy since October 2016 and has been inspiring the community around the St Luke’s Community Centre in Islington about the importance of seed saving.

Introduction to Seed Saving will cover the basic techniques of growing, collecting and storing seeds from a plant. The workshop will include:

– The importance of the ancient practice of saving seeds

– The difference between plant families, species and varieties. What is a hybrid?

– Seed saving guidelines for different species of plants

– Seed saving practical session

The workshop is open to everyone and no prior gardening experience is required.

When: Saturday 14th October 10:30-13:00

Where: St Lukes Community Centre, 90 Central, London EC1V 8AJ

To book your ticket go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/introduction-to-seed-saving-tickets-35428061285

Edible Living Harvest Festival

London Freedom Seed Bank are pleased to be taking part of the Edible Living Harvest Festival on Friday 22nd September. It’s going to be a fun celebration of growing with a pot luck dinner, activities to get your hands dirty, and the chance to meet Lambeth’s food growing community. We will be there with the seed bank so come along to get your hands on some FREE LOCAL ORGANIC SEEDS!

Edible Living Harvest Festival (1)

Seeds for a Better World

We are delighted to be working with Global Generation and Garden Organic on a new project, Seeds for a Better World, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Seeds for a Better World aims to connect to and give back to our natural heritage by educating and inspiring young people and other London residents to learn about the cycle of growing and saving seeds. We will be:

  • working with a team of Youth Ambassadors to unearth the memories of immigrant communities in the Kings Cross area about vegetable varieties and growing traditions from home
  • creating new community seed gardens and a mobile interactive seed bank to take heritage seeds and the stories of those who grew them to new audiences
  • holding a Seed Festival to bring together diverse groups of people to swap seeds and learn from each other

The project kicks off in September when the Youth Ambassadors take a visit to Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library to gain inspiration from their collection of over 800 heritage varieties. The Seed Festival in January 2018 will include a Seed Swap, seed-themed cooking, food and creative workshops, such as making seed charms and jewellery. Activities will continue throughout 2018.

The project will inform participants about the heritage of cultivated vegetable varieties and how they are being threatened by industrial agriculture. Participants will also learn traditional seed saving skills and understand their importance in conserving open-pollinated vegetable varieties for future generations.

Seed diversity across the globe is more severely threatened than ever before. There couldn’t be a better to time to embark on this exciting project.

 

 

 

Walworth Lettuce Trials

August is the perfect month for saving lettuce seed and so in early August a group of us headed to Walworth Garden to find out about the work of seed buddy and artist Richard Galpin.

Tucked away in a quiet corner of the otherwise immaculate garden, Richard has created a seed saving bed and is trialling 30 lettuce varieties. He is assessing each variety based on its vigour, flavour and resistance to pests and diseases and will be selecting the best varieties to save seed from. The bed was riotous display of lettuces in full flower – a reminder that seed saving is not a tidy business. Many of the lettuces had reached over a metre in height, and they were nearly all covered in the characteristic tiny yellow flowers.

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Lettuces in flower at Walworth Garden (photo: Charlotte Dove)

Of the 30 varieties that Richard started with, about half of them had reached this stage. Others were lost along the way to slugs, foxes and that long dry spell in early summer (seems a long time ago now). It was remarkable how the varieties had coped so differently under largely the same conditions; some hadn’t made it past the germination bench, whilst others had reached full and glorious maturity.

Richard Galpin Lettuce Trials

The lettuce bed earlier in the season  (photo: Richard Galpin)

Richard is planning to save seed from about five of the varieties and is also experimenting with a cross between two of his favourite lettuces. Here Richard explains a bit more about more about his breeding experiment:

“I’ve been collecting speckled varieties of lettuce for a couple of years – a project that started with my interest in the Bloody Cos (or Spotted Aleppo) variety that originates in Syria. My interests are generally in the cultural aspects of the variety, and their amazing visual appearance – but some people also get excited about the health benefits of the anthocyanin that these red lettuces contain. By emasculating the flowers and hand pollinating I’ve managed to cross one of my long-standing favourite lettuces – Marvel of four seasons – with a vivid red spotted variety bred by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds in Oregon, USA. The aim is a wider gene pool to make the variety more resistant to adverse conditions – and selected for suitability for London’s urban growing conditions. It will need some testing, and a few generations of growing out and selecting the best strains – but because i’m less concerned about uniformity than commercial growers would be, i hope to be able to supply the London Freedom Seed Bank with this variety within a couple of years. Look out for the Bloody Marvel…!”

We were impressed with Richard’s careful planning and attention to detail and can’t wait to include some of his Walworth-saved seed in the Freedom Seed Bank.

For more info about the Walworth Lettuce Trials:

https://www.richardgalpin.co.uk/walworth-lettuce-trials

 

Seed: The Untold Story – LFSB screening

The London Freedom Seed Bank is delighted to be partnering with Demand:film to bring you a one-off screening of SEED: The Untold Story at The Whirled Cinema in Brixton on Sunday 3rd September. This incredible film follows the passionate seed keepers who protect our 12,000-year-old food legacy and reveals how the battle for control of our seed supply is fast becoming a defining story of our time.

Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds, worshiped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. SEED: The Untold Story follows seed savers around the world fighting to protect our seed heritage. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource, and revive a culture connected to seeds. 

The film has already won 14 film festival awards in the US, where it was described as “the most essential, illuminating and enraging film since Food Inc.” Watch the trailer  and find out more about the film here.

Please note, this event is an advance ticket only event. Tickets will not be available on the door and must be purchased online in advance:  https://tickets.demand.film/event/1858 

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SEED: The Untold Story

When: Sunday 3rd September, 1pm (film starts at 1.30pm)

Where: Whirled Cinema, 259-260 Hardess Street, Brixton, London SE24 0HN

Nearest buses from Brixton / Camberwell: 35, 45, 345, P4

Nearest train station: Loughborough Junction (Thames Link from Farringdon, Blackfriars or Elephant and Castle or from Sutton via Herne Hill) or 15 min walk from Brixton Station.

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Spring peas in Streatham

Guy Roberts is one of our amazing team of Seed Buddies who has been matched with a community garden this year to promote seed saving and to grow crops for the Freedom Seed Bank. He is working with Streatham Common Community Garden in south London, a historic walled garden dating from the early twentieth century.

Speaking about his progress so far, Guy says, “Finding a space away from other pea crops for the saving of Turner Spring peas was reasonably straightforward, however the hosepipe doesn’t stretch to the top of the community garden so it’s been a big ask to make sure someone carries watering cans up there, though so far so good as the first few pea pods are now developing. We’re also hoping to save seed of Pink Plum tomatoes, but the last few years we have suffered blight in the garden so we’re waiting to free up some space in the cold frames this year, and hope to use the lights [cold frame lids] to keep the rain off for a more successful crop”

Well done Guy for finding a suitable space away from other pea crops and for getting volunteers on board to help with the watering! If Guy’s harvest is successful then the seeds will be available for free at community events next year.

There are 13 seed buddies who have been matched with community gardens in London and who are creating new seed gardens to grow and save seeds that are adapted to London’s climate, and to teach others in the process. We will be posting about some of the other gardens soon. If you’re interested in creating your own seed garden then get in touch: freedomseedbank@gmail.com.

IMG_5796Guy with the Spring peas

GrowFest tomorrow from 11-4pm

We’re looking forward to Grow Fest at Glengall Wharf Garden tomorrow. London Freedom Seeds up for grabs… Matt’s Wild Cherry, Grandpa’s Cress, Amaranth Latte and Yellow Horn Pepper to name just a few… Come along to see what seeds we have in the bank and get hold of some FREE organically-grown, London-sown seeds.

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Find us at Grow Fest 2017

Grow Fest 2017 is a celebration of growing, community and gardening in Southwark. It’s taking place on Saturday 6th May (11am-4pm) at Glengall Wharf Garden in Burgess Park.

The London Freedom Seed Bank will be there in all our seedy glory! We will be giving away FREE SEEDS from the Bank, all grown in London, using organic principles, by our network of Freedom Seed Savers. Come along and say hello and find out about all the wonderful varieties we have at the moment.

The festival will also be a chance to find out about growing around Southwark, learn new skills, support gardening projects, and explore permaculture and wildlife gardening.

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Seed saving support for community gardens

The Freedom Seed Bank and Capital Growth have trained a team of Seed Buddies in the art of seed saving. Now we are looking for community or school garden groups who are interested in receiving help and guidance to start saving seeds. Participating gardens will be matched with a Seed Buddy, ideally from your local area.

A trained Seed Buddy will visit your garden at least twice over the 2017 growing season and will help you to come up with a plan for how to incorporate seed saving. They will offer practical advice about which crops to save seeds from and how to get the best seeds.

Your Seed Buddy will provide you with FREE SEEDS from the London Freedom Seed Bank and you will be offered the opportunity to donate seeds back to the bank at the end of the growing season.

To sign up for a buddy, just complete this simple form:

http://www.capitalgrowth.org/buddy_scheme/