Important new research has been published which illustrates the importance of community seed projects, thanks to the work of our much-missed, former Urban Growth team member, Charlotte Dove. She will be talking about her recent research trip to America, at the prestigious South London Botanical Institute, as part of Seedy Saturday, on March 5th. If the website is anything to go by, there will be a rich tapestry of inspirational and educational stories, with practical advice on how we can preserve genetic diversity and develop resilient community garden projects. We include here an excerpt from the press release:
Saving seeds at the end of a crop’s cycle is essential in order to grow the same crop the next year, and yet very few gardeners in the UK still practise the ancient art of seed saving. Instead, most gardeners rely on purchasing their seeds from large distributors, with the result that seed saving skills have been largely lost from our gardening culture.
A new study published by London-based gardener, Charlotte Dove, suggests that community seed projects could be the answer to the UK’s lack of locally-grown seeds. The report examines over 20 community seed projects in America and Canada and looks at their role in maintaining seed diversity. Charlotte visited the projects in autumn 2015 in order to observe their practices and learn from their experiences.
The report finds that community seed saving projects have been instrumental in protecting seed diversity in America and Canada. The author identifies six main ways in which projects are helping to protect seed diversity including: raising awareness of seed issues and teaching seed saving skills; identifying and raising awareness of rare and unusual seeds; creating networks of farmers and gardeners to exchange seeds and skills; and, paving the way for the establishment of numerous independent seed companies.
Charlotte is a member of the London Freedom Seed Bank (LFSB), a network of food growers dedicated to saving, storing and distributing seed, and will be working with the LFSB Steering Group to develop their strategy and community outreach. It is hoped that the report will also help to inspire and inform a greater diversity of seed saving ventures in the UK, in order to bring back seed saving skills and reduce our reliance on imported seed.
Charlotte’s research is funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust in partnership with the Frank Jackson Foundation.