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

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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IMG_1852

Freedom Seed Bank

Bring on the Weekend! * Programme for Saturday *

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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

What is the Freedom Seed Bank?

We have awakened to the realisation that we are losing something of great importance: As food growers and farmers we have lost our knowledge of how to save seed and our crop diversity … and we no longer hold the seed sacred!

Freedom Seed Bank Festival 201318-18-IMG_513929-29-IMG_5198

In Oct 2012 Vandana Shiva and the International Permaculture Network made a call to Occupy and to protect our Seed. It was the wake up call we needed at FOOD from the SKY to completely transform our relationship with our food system, therefore with something very profound .

That breaking down of our old understanding was sped up and deepened as we educated ourselves about the GM situation, the threat on our Seed Saving initiatives in the UK by the pervasive EU legislations, the Corporate control and many other threats to our food system, therefore to our very survival!

We went from shock to fear to anger to grief and to action! We called for the first meeting in London with food growers, seeders of change and activists. As well as the loss of knowledge, seed diversity and the freedom within our own food system we also talked about the impact of having lost our celebrations. We have lost our ceremonies and our stand for the Sacredness of the Seed and therefore Life!

After a World Cafe and a Truth Mandala (inspired by Joanna Macy’s work) the London Freedom Seed Bank emerged. Our motivation grew to take action and to start an active journey of remembering. An initiative seeded and germinating in London for the learning, educating, re-skilling, celebrating the sacred and the sharing of our true wealth, our Seeds.

Freedom Seed Bank Logo

What is a FREEDOM SEED BANK?: It is place where we remember, grow, store, celebrate and share what is truly precious to us, our seeds…a living seed bank and a living community space. It can be on balconies, allotments, schools, urban food growing sites and farms.

1- RAISING AWARENESS: For all the issues and actions threatening our seeds. Also a space for partnership and networking.

2 – RE-SKILLING : Providing a series of workshops for urban food growers and schools about growing seeds, saving and storing organic seeds.

3 – CELEBRATING in a yearly FESTIVAL: Each October – Celebrating as a sacred and creative ceremony the welcoming of the Freedom Seed Savers* as they bring and gift their Freedom Seeds to our community.

4 – SHARING and DISTRIBUTING: Each Feb/March – Sharing and distributing Freedom Seeds*for free to all who want to grow food while providing more training for people who want to become Freedom Seed Savers.

*Freedom Seed Savers: Individual attending re-skilling trainings about how to save seeds to organic standard.

*Freedom Seeds are seeds saved by trained individuals and initiatives in open pollinated seeds.

Our seed saving capabilities have become very specialised, and we now purchase seeds every year from seed companies more interested in profit than diversity or the well being of our natural systems. We buy seeds very often in complete ignorance as to whether they are biodynamic, organic, hybrid, local, fertile or not and what that means. We have become blind and numbed out.

So we have to ask ourselves: how does this make sense in a world of climate change where we should be increasing crop biodiversity if we hope to continue to feed ourselves in a rapidly changing climate, and at a time where cheap energy will soon be a thing of the past? In the UK, in the last two years, we have experienced destabilised weather patterns affecting our crops and our ecosystems. We need to bring our communities together and skill up if we want to respond to the changes responsibly and with care.

As we shared our concerns and new knowledge with our own food growing communities we witnessed again and again that there is, in our collective mind and heart, a disconnection between seed and food.

Our food system is fractured, fragmented and isolated, therefore separated from the sacred intelligence and guidance of life itself.

I am moved to bring other recent and similarly robust and destabilising awakening calls! The threat on our Bees and on our Water who are also in great danger. We cannot talk about the Seed, it now seems clear to me, without bringing its whole community…Soil, Water, Bees, Fungi, Humans and all the other organisms involved in the existence of life… Our remembrance of our interdependence is Part of our remembering is to become active in re-skilling our community.

The first step was to find out who still held the knowledge. In London, in the last 12 months we have organised and delivered 7 workshops with some wonderful teachers. This Spring Peter Brinch of Open Pollinated Seeds, Kate McEvoy, Real Seed Company, Jack Astbury,  FOOD from the SKY, Sally Cunningham, Heritage Seed Library .

Most importantly, through these re-skilling workshops the seed saving knowledge is being passed onto to 50+ new Freedom Seed Savers. At the end of each workshop the attendees choose a packet of seed from the SeedBank with the promise to return some seed back to the London Freedom Seed Bank at the October Festivals. The map of London is changing as we place each seed and seed saver on it.

The Festival: The return of the remembered and saved seed is calling for celebration. Our first Freedom Seed Bank festival, last October 2013, took place at Passing Clouds and was shared by 150 people. We created a beautiful Mandala with our seeds and seasonal food grown in London.

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Loss of Variety – 1903 to 1983

We welcomed artists, poets, singers, speakers and danced a great ceilidh …the essence of Seed is creativity ! We honored and gave thanks to the Freedom Seed Savers. We celebrated the re-covery of skills that we are in danger of losing. We manifested a space for the sacredness of the seed and her gift of life! Seeds were gifted…

Last October I spoke to the European Parliament in Brussels around the question: ‘How will we feed our cities in times of crisis?’ I introduced the Freedom Seed Bank and later on that day, at the Urban Ecology Center, a seed germinated and grew…they are joining us with the celebration and festival 2014.

If you are moved by this article and want to be part of creating a local Freedom Seed Bank and please contact us through our website. Also join us at the Great Seed Festival : Celebrating the seed that feeds us -October 11th and 12th 2014 at the Garden Museum in London.

Check out Gaia Foundation, who is taking on the coordination role this year, for other cities where the Festival is also sprouting in different towns. [http://www.gaiafoundation.org or will it be the Great Seed Festival website? TBC]

Azul-Valerie Thome and the London Freedom Seed Bank: https://londonfreedomseedbank.wordpress.com

2 URGENT ACTIONS TO TAKE to protect our seeds before the 4th December!!!

(1) WRITING TO THE 3 KEY MEPS

There are 3 MEPs directly involved with the law who are really worth writing to:
(be nice to them though, it wasn’t their idea)

Sergio Silvestris: Rapporteur of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development
(he is chairing the making of the new law)

sergio.silvestris@europarl.europa.eu

George LYON (United Kingdom) – Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE

george.lyon@europarl.europa.eu

Julie GIRLING (United Kingdom) – European Conservatives and Reformists – ECR

julie.girling@europarl.europa.eu

You can send the same email to all three of them. This is probably the key thing to do.
Here is an example – though it is better to put things into your own words.

Dear Mr Silvestris/ Mr Lyon / Ms Girling

Subject: Proposed new EU Plant Reproductive Material law

I am writing to you because I am worried about the proposed new law regulating the sale of seeds within the European Union.

Home gardeners have very different needs from farmers and larger scale growers. The law as it is currently drafted does not take account of this difference, and will result in far less choice of varieties suitable for gardeners.

I realise there are some exceptions allowed in the law for ‘niche market’ varieties, but these are much too limited.

This law is being described as for ‘consumer protection’ but there are no problems as things stand with home garden seed that we need protecting from. The new law will hugely reduce our choice of plants to grow. This is unreasonable given that it will not benefit us in any way.

It is not appropriate for seeds sold in small packets for individual gardeners to be regulated in the same way as seeds for commercial agriculture, and as a gardener, I do not want to be limited to growing varieties of vegetable developed for a completely different type of growing.

Home gardeners should be able to choose any vegetable variety they want to grow, in a free market, and not be restricted to a list of ‘approved’ varieties. Agriculture in the EU is a major business. Individual citizens’ gardens and allotments are a completely different sector, and don’t need the same degree of regulation.

I would ask you to change the draft law so that home garden seeds and plants are not covered by the new law.

I would be grateful for a reply to this letter

Yours sincerely

[your name]

 

(2) RESPONDING TO THE UK GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION
ABOUT TAKING EU LAWS BACK INTO UK CONTROL

The UK government have just started a consultation asking people what things should be covered by EU laws, and what should be decided at national level.
The consultation about agriculture is happening now.   We are asking as many people as possible to respond, and say that garden plants and garden seeds should NOT be covered by EU regulation, but instead controlled by UK laws.

DEFRA have a page of information about the consultation here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/eu/boc-agriculture

And then the actual consultation – the bit to fill in – is here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/eu/boc-agriculture/consultation

What to fill in?

NOTE: You don’t have to answer ALL of the questions on the form – just one is fine.

You could just make one brief point in 
Question 5 (in the section ‘EU Competence for Agriculture’)
:

We feel that the EU should not have competence for (that is, they shouldn’t make decisions about) Plant Reproductive Material(that is, seeds) intended for gardeners.
Agriculture in the UK (and the rest of the EU) is a major business. Individual citizens’ gardens and allotments are a completely different sector, and don’t require strict EU-level regulation.

You’ll need to put this in your own words, but the point to make to them is that it is not appropriate for UK gardeners to be regulated by the EU as if they were farmers, and that they have very different needs.  Garden plants and seeds should not be regulated in the same way as cereals and potatoes grown on hundreds of acres.

Help reading the background material to the consultation:

If you don’t want to read all the way through the DEFRA ‘Call for Evidence’ document, the key part relating to Plant Reproductive Material (= “seeds and cuttings” to most of us) is on page 20, paragraph 49.

Here is what DEFRA say there, explaining the current situation:

“Marketing of plant reproductive material is regulated by a number of EU directives.  These are consumer protection measures which set out the quality and identity requirements which seed and other plant reproductive material must meet before it may be marketed.  The objectives include encouraging the breeding and uptake of improved varieties, assuring seed quality for safe, reliable and environmentally efficient food production, and facilitating international trade.  The Directives also cover the marketing of ornamental plant material.  In recent years simpler requirements have been agreed for conservation varieties and varieties with no intrinsic value for commercial crop production eg varieties intended for gardeners.

We have marked the final sentence in bold –   These simpler regulations for garden seed are what the new EU Seed Law will abolish. This is what you need to comment on in Question 5 – Seed Regulation for home gardeners needs to be brought back into UK control.

If enough people fill in the survey, it is possible that the Seed Laws will be brought back to UK control!