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.

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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/

Connected Seeds and Sensors

I was very happy to be invited along to the Connected Seeds book launch and winter celebration at Rich Mix at the beginning of February. The event featured talks on seed sovereignty, food growing workshops and an exhibition and short-film screening about the Connected Seeds project. The main attraction of the day was the Connected Seeds Library, a new interactive seed library which tells the stories of seeds and their growers in and round Spitalfields City Farm. It was inspiring to connect with other London-based seed savers and to acquire new varieties for the seed bank including unfamiliar crops.

Connected Seeds and Sensors is research project looking at how ‘smart’ technologies can be used to support more sustainable urban food practices. The lead researcher, Sara Heitlinger, based at Queen Mary University London, worked with 14 Seed Guardians throughout the 2016 growing season to grow and save a variety of different seed crops and to record environmental data in each of the gardens.

The Seed Guardians were from all walks of life and different cultural backgrounds with varying levels of gardening expertise. They each committed to growing one or two crops and then donated some of the seeds they had collected to the Connected Seeds Library. The interactive seed library contains seeds from each of the guardians alongside photos, video footage and sounds clips about  the crops from the guardian who donated the seeds.

The guardians grew their crops in various growing spaces around East London, in private gardens, community plots or on housing estates. Each of the gardens was fitted with a specially-designed sensor to record information about the environmental conditions in the garden, including air temperature, air humidity, air pressure, soil moisture and ambient light. The data visualisations can all viewed online:

http://www.connectedseeds.org/data-visualisation/

The data clearly demonstrates the capacity of smart technologies to inform growers about the environmental conditions of their growing space. There is lots of potential to use this data to encourage better growing practices or to map different growing conditions across the capital.

The exhibition featured a seed swap where a variety of crops grown by the seed guardians and donated by other visitors to the event were available. I swapped some of our seeds from the London Freedom Seed Bank with lablab beans grown at Spitalfields Farm and potol, a kind of pointed gourd. I look forward to passing these seeds on to our freedom seed savers to grow and save so we can increase the quantity in the bank and make them accessible to other growers and gardeners.

We’re delighted that there’s another project which is collecting London’s seeds and the stories behind them, and we look forward to seeing how the interactive seed library grows over the coming months. The seed library can be found at its permanent home at Spitalfields City Farm. Get in touch with farm staff to organise a visit or become a member. http://www.connectedseeds.org.

Charlotte Dove

06.03.17

Connected Seeds launch event

Have you heard about A Celebration of Seeds at Rich Mix on Wednesday 1st February? Folks from the London Freedom Seed Bank will be going along to find out more and to show support for this exciting new community resource.

What’s going on?

A day of talks, workshops, films and food to celebrate the launch of the Connected Seeds Library, exhibition and book.

The day offers opportunities for networking with experienced and novice growers around east London, stalls, free vegetarian lunch and exhibition tours. Come along to learn about seed-saving, seed sovereignty, and community growing spaces.

Combined with the Tower Hamlets Food Growing Network’s Winter Gathering, this event is the culmination of an 18- month community research project based at Queen Mary University of London and Spitalfields City Farm exploring new technology to support urban agriculture in east London. The research produced a Connected Seeds Library, which is an interactive community resource that links the seeds within to the stories of the east London growers who grew and donated them. The library will be on display in the cafe gallery at Rich Mix, along with photographs and audio documenting the research process.

In the evening, you are invited to walk over to nearby Spitalfields City Farm for the book launch, herbal drinks and music.

For more info and to reserve a place (tickets are free but must be booked in advance):

https://www.richmix.org.uk/events/spoken-word/celebration-seeds

https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/connected-seeds-launch-and-winter-gathering

Threshing and winnowing at OrganicLea

On Sunday, a group of Seed Buddies from our 2016 training programme, attended a seed saving workshop at OrganicLea, a thriving market garden in the Lea Valley. A worker’s co-operative, they run a box scheme, grow seedlings for sale, and save a range of vegetable seeds mainly for their own use on site. It seemed like a great place to go and learn about seed saving from growers who have integrated the techniques in to their everyday practice.

Head grower Ru gave a short talk on practical aspects of saving vegetable seed – how to recognise when a crop is ready for harvesting and how to dry the seeds. Then we got going on the main part of the day – threshing and winnowing dried crops in order to extract the seeds. Seed saving uses a utilitarian assortment of tools. The first to catch our attention was a home-made, badly-worn wooden club. This was used with some abandon to bash large paper bags of dried plant matter to start the process of separating the seeds from their pods. The process continued with some finer sorting using kitchen colanders, nimble fingers and good old-fashioned blowing to extract the precious seeds from the lightweight chaff. In the end, we filled a dozen or so brown paper bags with the booty – chicory, amaranth, leaf celery and coriander seeds, amongst others – all beautifully cleaned and dried and ready for sowing again next spring.

Ru donated two new varieties to the Freedom Seed Bank: Amaranth ‘Latte’, a variety originally collected from a Pakistani women in Leyton: and, Grandpa’s Cress, a fast-growing, small-leaf cress, obtained from the Heritage Seed Library. The Seed Buddies will be growing both of these varieties in community spaces across London next year.

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Seed Buddies programme takes root

The Seed Buddies programme launched with a successful training day at the Regent’s Park Allotment Garden in October 2016. The day was attended by 18 food growers and gardeners from across London who have been selected to be the next generation of seed savers for the Freedom Seed Bank.

The training was delivered by seed officer, Catrina Fenton, and horticulturalist Claire Pritchard, from the Heritage Seed Library (HSL). They covered the basic principles of successful seed saving, and gave practical advice about saving the seed of a range of different crops, from easy-to-save peas and beans, to those at the more challenging end of the spectrum, such as carrots and beetroot.

The trainees come from different backgrounds, including urban gardening, landscaping and design, and are all committed to improving their horticultural skills and educating Londoners about the lost art of seed saving. Many are already working with environmental and community-based organisations such as Bandstand Beds, St Lukes Community Centre in Islington, and Stepney City Farm, and will be disseminating their newly-acquired seed saving knowledge amongst their existing networks.

The Seed Buddies will be matched with community gardens in their local area, and over the next year, will support their gardens to start seed saving. By working with community spaces, the Seed Buddies aim to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our seed heritage whilst also passing on practical advice and skills. All of the gardens which are involved will be invited to donate seeds to the Freedom Seed Bank at the end of next year.

Capital Growth will be matching Seed Buddies to community gardens over the coming months. If you are part of a community garden, or know one that would be interested in receiving a visit, then please make sure you register your interest here: http://www.capitalgrowth.org/buddy_scheme/

Final reminder for Seed Buddies training course

There’s just one week to go before the deadline to apply to become a Seed Buddy! 

Seed Buddies form an important part of the Seed Bank’s network. They receive FREE training, access to rare and unusual seeds from the Seed Bank’s collection, and play an important role in helping to raise awareness of the role of seed saving at community growing spaces across London.

Successful applicants will take part in a one-day training programme on Saturday 22nd October at the Regent’s Park Allotment Garden (10:30-16:00). The training day will be lead by expert seed savers from the Heritage Seed Library and will include:

–   Seed saving techniques: theory and ‘how to’ with different plants

–   Planning your space for seed saving

–  Small-scale storage techniques

After the training day, the Seed Buddies will be required to support/mentor two community gardens in saving their own seeds.

If you have any questions or are interested in taking part, then we would love to hear from you! To download a copy of the application form go to www.capitalgrowth.org/buddy_scheme/ or to ask any questions email freedomseedbank@gmail.com.

The deadline for applications is Monday 3rd October at 12pm.