Inspiring talks & a garden tour

We are hosting a Network Get-together on Wednesday 23rd May at St Luke’s Community Centre from 7-8.30pm. If you are already a member of the Freedom Seed Bank Network or you’re interested in finding out more, then please come and join us.
 
The evening will feature talks by our network members, plus drinks and nibbles, and a tour of the St Luke’s ‘Edible Yard’
 
Our speakers on the night are:
 
Helene Schulze, co-director of LFSB, writer and editor 
Here’s an intro from Helene…’Why do we save seed? Last summer I did my masters research on UK seed savers. The premise was simple: visit savers in their gardens and greenhouses, over cups of tea and packets of seeds, and talk. I wanted to know what their motivations were, how saving seed changed their relationships to the soil and their surroundings, what it meant it meant to them and whether they felt themselves part of a larger, global community of seed guardians. I returned with a wealth of tales far too long to squeeze into a dissertation and I would like to share them with you.’ 
 
Maria Precedo, Seed Guardian for the Heritage Seed Library 
Will speak about her seed saving journey and her work with the Heritage Seed Library 
 
Marco Bottignole, Community Gardening Officer at St Luke’s Community Centre
Will talk to us about the seed saving that they have been doing at St Luke’s and explain why he’s passionate about seed saving 
 
The full address is St Luke’s Community Centre, 90 Central St, London EC1V 8AJ.
 
Please email freedomseedbank@gmail.com to reserve a space. We hope to hear from you! 
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New network members get skilled up

Our network of seed savers grow seeds to donate to the Freedom Seed Bank each year. This year we recruited 20 new members to join the network, all of whom have experience gardening and growing food, but haven’t necessarily saved seeds before. Earlier in the month we held a training session focussed on pollination and its role in successful seed saving to bring the new network members up to speed on this important topic.

We invited Peter Brinch of Open-Pollinated Seeds to lead the session. Peter has been working in the world of seeds since 2001 and currently grows vegetable and flower seeds for the Seed Co-operative. He spoke about the history of seed saving, before looking in more detail at the difference between self-pollinating and cross-pollinating crops and why it’s important to recognise which you’re growing before saving any seed.

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Peter with his DIY Seed Cleaner (an Open Source design available at Real Seeds).

Check out the full range of open-pollinated, organic and biodynamic seeds available from the Seed Co-operative: download the catalogue.

Deadline to join network extended by 1 week!

We have extended the deadline to apply to become a member of the Freedom Seed Saver Network by one week. The new deadline is Sunday 3rd December.

New members will gain access to FREE training sessions taking place in early 2018, peer-to-peer support from our network of seed savers, and seeds from the Freedom Seed Bank.

More details here: https://londonfreedomseedbank.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/join-our-seed-saver-network/

If you are interested in applying please send an expression of interest explaining about yourself and why you are interested in taking part to: freedomseedbank@gmail.com

We hope to hear from you!

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.

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

 

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

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/

Next re-skilling training Saturday 25th April

Hello all,

There are a few spaces left on our next training with Peter Brinch of Open Pollinated Seeds.  It will be held next Saturday 25th April from 10.30 to 1.30pm at Regents Park Allotment.  The training will cover all aspects of seed saving with plenty of opportunity to ask questions.

Saturday 25th April at Regent’s Park Allotment

Trainer: Peter Brinch of Open Pollinated Seeds

Time: 10.30am-1.30pm

Venue: The Regent’s Park allotment garden is located in the middle of Regent’s Park itself, at the Corner of Chester Road and the Inner Circle, next to the park’s office. If using a GPS use the postcode NW1 4NR.

Email us at freedomseedbank@gmail.com if you would like to book a place.

In solidarity

London Freedom Seed Bank

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Next workshops Saturday 11th April and Saturday 25th April

We hope you are enjoying the Spring so far!

Our first two trainings took place in mid-March and were well appreciated by everyone who attended.  Thank you to Charlotte Haworth who led the first training at Oasis Nature Garden in Stockwell.  Charlotte has posted an online version of the training on her blog, so please check out this excellent resource, complete with beautiful diagrams!   A big thanks also to Natalie Mady who was the trainer at Glengall Wharf Garden Seedy Sunday event.  Lots of seeds from the bank were distributed at the end of the trainings, and we are looking forward to celebrating the freedom seed savers as they return of some of this seed to the bank at our yearly festival towards the end of the year.

Our next trainings are listed below. There are still some spaces on both so email us at freedomseedbank@gmail.com if you would like to book a place:

 

Saturday 11th April at Keats Community Organics

Trainer: Jack Astbury

Time: 10.30am-1.30pm

Venue: Keats Community Organics, South London, DA16 3NB (nearest station Welling)

 

Saturday 25th April at Regent’s Park Allotment

Trainer: Peter Brinch of Open Pollinated Seeds

Time: 10.30am-1.30pm

Venue: The Regent’s Park allotment garden is located in the middle of Regent’s Park itself, at the Corner of Chester Road and the Inner Circle, next to the park’s office. If using a GPS use the postcode NW1 4NR.

This training is aimed at those with some experience of seed saving.

 

We look forward to seeing you!  Please email us if you have any questions.

In solidarity

London Freedom Seed Bank

 

Nathalie MadyCharlotte Haworth

Glengall Wharf Garden

Re-skilling workshops – Spring 2015

We are pleased to announce our upcoming workshops for this spring.   These workshops will provide you with the information necessary to start saving seed this year. We will cover choosing which varieties to save, considerations for avoiding cross-pollination, choosing which plants to select, and the practical aspects of saving seed from your plants. Growers and gardeners with no previous experience are welcome.

All workshops are FREE, and we will be distributing seed from the London Freedom Seed Bank at the end of the trainings to those who can commit to donate some of the seed back to the bank at the end of the growing season. This enables us to continue the cycle of redistribution next year.

The first two events in March are in collaboration with Oasis Nature Garden and Glengall Wharf Garden and do not require booking. For the April workshops we ask that you email us at freedomseedbank@gmail.com to book a place.

We would love to see you again if you have been on previous trainings at the London Freedom Seed Bank, especially if you have donated seed to the bank. If you are be interested in building on your current experience we would encourage you to attend the training on Saturday 25th April at Regent’s Park Allotment with Peter Brinch of Open Pollinated Seeds.

 

 Seed Swap  @ Oasis-page-001Saturday 21st March in collaboration with Oasis Nature Garden 

Trainer: Charlotte Haworth

Time: 1-4pm

Venue: Oasis Nature Garden on the corner of Larkhall Lane and Studley Rd, Stockwell, London, SW4 6SP

Tel: 020 7498 2329

oasisnaturegarden@gmail.com

Seedy Sunday 22nd March-2

Sunday 22nd March at Seedy Sunday Glengall Wharf Garden 

Time: 1-4pm

Trainer: Natalie Mady

Venue: Glenhall Wharf Garden, East end of Burgess Park, 64 Glengall Road, SE15 6NF

burgessfoodproject@gmail.com

 

Saturday 11th April at Keats Community Organics

Trainer: Jack Astbury

Time: 10.30am-1.30pm

Venue: Keats Community Organics, South London, DA16 3NB (nearest station Welling)

Please book at place by emailing us at freedomseedbank@gmail.com

 

Saturday 25th April at Regent’s Park Allotment

Trainer: Peter Brinch of Open Pollinated Seeds

Time: 10.30am-1.30pm

Venue: The Regent’s Park allotment garden is located in the middle of Regent’s Park itself, at the Corner of Chester Road and the Inner Circle, next to the park’s office. If using a GPS use the postcode NW1 4NR.

This training is aimed at those with some experience of seed saving.  Please book at place by emailing us at freedomseedbank@gmail.com

 

We look forward to seeing you!  Please email us if you have any questions.

In solidarity

London Freedom Seed Bank 

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Freedom Seed Bank