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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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

droppedImage

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

London Freedom Seed Bank Festival 2014

MandalaCould it really be a week since the festivities on the Battersea Barge? It seemed that fun was had by all! We started the evening with some wonderful music from Annalou, accompanied by Caroline David who also performed her seed anthem Seed unto Seed later in the evening.   Next up it was KMT Freedom Teacher, with a guest performance from MC MFaSis, the youngest performer of the evening at only 12 years old. Both held everyone captivated and put spirit into the evening that was to continue throughout the night.

We heard some beautiful poems from Joe Duggan of Crystal Palace Transition Town, and also our very own Antony Melville (whose poem we have published below).

We were honoured to have Mac Macartney, founder of Embercombe come and speak to us early on in the evening. Amongst the many words he said, he told us of the power contained within just a single seed. Enough in some cases to literally break through rock when reaching a certain size. When considering ourselves as seeds we should remember that we all have the power to do incredible things! Which leads us on to Jane Rabinowicz from USC Canada. As Director of the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, Jane told us about the multi-targeted approach USC Canada are taking to address the situation in Canada of increased uniformity of field crops, imported (and therefore not adapted to Canada’s climates) vegetable seed, and decreased government spending on plant breeding. This will probably sound very familiar to people! The linked up approach of Bauta Family Initiative includes supporting the scale up of small seed providers, facilitating field research including participatory plant breeding approaches, and significant training and capacity-building amongst farming and seed networks.

KMT Freedom Teacher and Emphasis m.c.
KMT Freedom Teacher and Emphasis m.c.
Mac Macartney
Mac Macartney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The heart of the evening, and of course the reason we hold the festival, was our ceremony. During the ceremony the London Freedom Seed Savers who had been on our trainings earlier in the year (and also some very generous guest growers), donated the seed they have saved this year to the bank. We were proud to have Azul Valerie-Thome, initiator of the LFSB and founder of FOOD from the SKY, travel from Schumacher college to be with us and conduct the beautiful ceremony, as well as build the spectacular mandala.   Thank you to all our wonderful seed savers who contributed to the ceremony, your saved seeds will be redistributed during our trainings early next year.

Azul conducting the seed ceremony
Azul conducting the seed ceremony

The second part of the evening kicked off with the infectious rhythms and rhymes of the fantastic Vibe Machine. Vibe Machine were followed by the Muckers – true ceilidh pro’s– just how did they manage to get so many already merry people to do strip the willow on a barge? We saw it with our own eyes or else we wouldn’t have believed it!

And now to the seed bank… this Autumn and winter we plan to germination test the donated seed, in preparation for redistribution next year. We are also entering a stage of planning for the coming year. Thank you to everyone who was at the festival for making it a fantastic evening – we at LFSB are already looking forward to next year’s (albeit after a bit of a break) : )

In solidarity

London Freedom Seed Bank

p.s. Our friend KMT freedom teacher of May Project Gardens will be hosting an event ‘Come We Grow’ on Friday 31st October. Please check out this site for more details. Please also see the websites of Vibe Machine and the Muckers for upcoming gigs.

Joe Duggan
Joe Duggan

 

Tilia Cordata by Antony Melville

Capsule that carries the code of a living creature

Miniature velvet sphere that shapes a tree

From cells selected to bring forth each feature –

Leaf, branching shape and flower, that we may see

The ancient lineage of the small leaved lime

Stand smiling by the path between the oaks –

Now touch the teeming soil, for it is time;

A million microbes call to you and coax

 

Jack labelling seed
Jack labelling seed

The tiny movement of a cell to break

Its fissure in the earth with one first root,

To find its food and so entice you on

To put out leaves and through the summer make

A sapling, which in years will bear the fruit

Of scented flowers spread before the sun.

 

photos by KMT Freedom Teacher, Azul-Valerie Thome, and Antony Melville, with more on the way!

Ceilidh
Ceilidh
Emphasis m.c.
Emphasis m.c.
Charlotte on the door
Charlotte on the door

Bring on the Weekend! * Programme for Saturday *

29-29-img_5198

The weekend is nearly here! We will be starting the day off on Saturday at the Great Seed Festival’s main hub in the Garden Museum so please come and say hello at our stall. You can download the 2-day programme and full list of events here.

Our London Freedom Seed Bank Festival, this year part of the Great Seed Festival will be kicking off at 5pm at the Battersea Barge, and we can’t wait to see you there! Doors will open at 4.30pm, please come early to guarantee entry. There will be food, and drinks to purchase at the bar.

The programme for the evening is as follows:

17:00          Music from KMT freedom teacher

17:30           Introduction to the London Freedom Seed Bank

17:45           Joe Duggan, poet

17:50           Mac MacCartney, speaker author, Embercombe founder

18:15           Jane Rabinowicz, Director of The Bauta Family Initiative on Canada Seed Security, USC Canada

18:45           Antony Melville, poet

19:00         London Freedom Seed Saver Ceremony conducted by Azul-Valerie Thome

19:30           Caroline David, songmaker

19:40           Next year at the London Freedom Seed Bank

20:00          Vibe Machine

21:00           The Muckers ceilidh band

23:00          Doors close

We look forward to seeing you!

CONTACT: Dawn: 07979852383 or Jack: 07776155498

Line-up for the London Freedom Seed Bank Festival 2014

KMT
KMT

We are buzzing and excited to announce the performers for our festival on Saturday 11th October, at 5pm, at the Battersea Barge (SW8 5BP).  This year our London Freedom Seed Bank Festival will be part of the wider Great Seed Festival .

The London Freedom Seed Bank Festival will be kicking off with music from KMT freedom teacher aka Pollinator. KMT will be followed by poetry from local poets Joe Duggan and Antony Melville, and a performance from Caroline David.

As previously announced we are looking forward to hearing from our two inspiring speakers Mac Macartney, Embercombe founder, author and public speaker, and Jane Rabinowicz, Program Director of The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.

Vibe Machine
Vibe Machine

The heart of the evening will be our ceremony to celebrate our London Freedom Seed Savers, during which they will donate their saved seed back to the bank. The founder of FOOD from the SKY and initiator of the London Freedom Seed Bank, Azul-Valerie Thome will be with us on the evening to vision, conduct, and oversee the ceremony.

We are thrilled to announce we will have live music from Vibe Machine with their infectious rhythms and considered rhymes! Vibe Machine will be followed by the fantastic Hackney-based band The Muckers, who will have everyone on their feet for a ceilidh to see the evening out!

We look forward to seeing you on October 11th. The program will start at 5pm with doors opening at 4.30pm. The event is not ticketed but there will be an opportunity to make a donation at the door.

The Muckers
The Muckers

Please arrive early to ensure entry.

This year we are proud to be part of The Great Seed Festival: Celebrating the Seeds that feed us.  Please visit the festival website for the full listing of events which will take place over the whole weekend, with fringe events throughout October. The Great Seed Festival is organised by food growing networks, seed and food justice organisations and individuals from across the UK, and coordinated by The Gaia Foundation, Beyond GM, Heritage Seed Library and the UK Food Group.

Bring on October and vive la Seed!

Festival leaflet 2014