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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Introduction to Seed Saving

We’re delighted that seed buddy Marco Bottingnole has been invited to lead a seed saving workshop by London’s largest food growing network and training provider, Capital Growth. Marco has been a seed buddy since October 2016 and has been inspiring the community around the St Luke’s Community Centre in Islington about the importance of seed saving.

Introduction to Seed Saving will cover the basic techniques of growing, collecting and storing seeds from a plant. The workshop will include:

– The importance of the ancient practice of saving seeds

– The difference between plant families, species and varieties. What is a hybrid?

– Seed saving guidelines for different species of plants

– Seed saving practical session

The workshop is open to everyone and no prior gardening experience is required.

When: Saturday 14th October 10:30-13:00

Where: St Lukes Community Centre, 90 Central, London EC1V 8AJ

To book your ticket go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/introduction-to-seed-saving-tickets-35428061285

Seeds for a Better World

We are delighted to be working with Global Generation and Garden Organic on a new project, Seeds for a Better World, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Seeds for a Better World aims to connect to and give back to our natural heritage by educating and inspiring young people and other London residents to learn about the cycle of growing and saving seeds. We will be:

  • working with a team of Youth Ambassadors to unearth the memories of immigrant communities in the Kings Cross area about vegetable varieties and growing traditions from home
  • creating new community seed gardens and a mobile interactive seed bank to take heritage seeds and the stories of those who grew them to new audiences
  • holding a Seed Festival to bring together diverse groups of people to swap seeds and learn from each other

The project kicks off in September when the Youth Ambassadors take a visit to Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library to gain inspiration from their collection of over 800 heritage varieties. The Seed Festival in January 2018 will include a Seed Swap, seed-themed cooking, food and creative workshops, such as making seed charms and jewellery. Activities will continue throughout 2018.

The project will inform participants about the heritage of cultivated vegetable varieties and how they are being threatened by industrial agriculture. Participants will also learn traditional seed saving skills and understand their importance in conserving open-pollinated vegetable varieties for future generations.

Seed diversity across the globe is more severely threatened than ever before. There couldn’t be a better to time to embark on this exciting project.

 

 

 

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/

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