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.

Seed Saving for Beginners: Theory and Practice

London Freedom Seed Bank invite you to this half-day workshop at Glengall Wharf Garden on Saturday 15th October.

The session is for everyone interested in seed saving. Our trainer Charlotte Dove will go through the theory of seed saving (why save seeds, what is cross pollination, what are F1 cultivars) before giving practical advice on how you can save seeds from your garden, and what you need to do to successfully save the best seed crops.

Glengall Wharf Garden is thriving community garden in Burgess Park, south London, promoting food growing, organic horticulture and permaculture.

Course details

Date and time: Saturday 15th October, 12:30-15:00

Address: Glengall Wharf Garden, 64 Glengall Road, Peckham

To book a place, please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/seed-saving-for-beginners-theory-and-practice-tickets-26079350038

This event is part of Capital Growth’s 2016 Training Calendar. For other upcoming training sessions, visit:  http://www.capitalgrowth.org/training/

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

Trainings to be announced and upcoming events

 

IMG_1487Hello fellow seed savers,

With spring nearly here we’re kicking into gear at the London Freedom Seed Bank ready for the new growing season. We have been carrying out germination tests on the seed that was donated back to the bank by our freedom seed savers at our festival last October, in preparation to redistribute at this year’s trainings. These tests are being carried out at Growing Communities Dagenham Farm, where the bank is being stored (thank you to Alice Holden for space, help, and corner of a propagator). The dates of our trainings are in the process of being finalised so watch this space, we will be advertising them here shortly!

photo (2)In the meantime, we will be going to the Global Justice Now event tomorrow, Monday 23rd ‘What lies ahead? Pan Africanism: connecting and taking action for global justice’. It looks to be a great discussion – see you there if you can make it.

Please check out the upcoming community food growers network events here.

In solidarity

London Freedom Seed Bank

(Edit)

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!

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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

Our first 2 re-skilling workshops on seed savings…great success!

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Peter Brinch from Open Pollinated Seed
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The day’s programme
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people committing to becoming a Freedom Seed Saver
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Brain storm for the 2014 festival
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DISTRIBUTION OF THE FREEDOM SEEDS

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1st February: Peter Brinch )Open Pollinated Seed) teaches our first 2014 re-skilling workshop at the Regent’s Park Allotment hosted by Julie.  Full house and fantastic day.  We had many food growers, activists, people who care,  and people came from Brussels to connect and feed back to their city.  We now have a ongoing contact as we are planning to echo each others Freedom Seed Festival 11th and 12th Oct 2014 .

 

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1st March 2014 – taught by Sally from the Heritage Seed Library hosted by the South Bank roof garden (inspired by FOOD from the SKY 🙂

The event was full again with various gardeners, growers and people who see Seed Saving as a stand for what is our Right.  Here are some photos of the day. Next re-skilling workshop in South East London on 30th March, booking essential with Jo: freedomseedbank@gmail.com

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SALLY FROM HERITAGE SEED LIBRARY
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Jo from Freedom Seed Bank
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Azul from Freedom Seed Bank
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THE Freedom Seed Bank
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South Bank Roof Garden inspired by FOOD from the SKY
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Guardian of the Seeds 🙂

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