About Irish Seed Savers
The Irish Seed Savers Association is registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee.
Charity No.: CHY 13989
We are inclusive, transparent and adhere to all best practice policies. We are guided by a Board of Directors. To view our audited accounts please click HERE.
Who We Are
Our main objective is to conserve Ireland’s very special and threatened plant genetic resources. Our work focuses on the preservation of heirloom and heritage food crop varieties that are suitable for Ireland’s unique growing conditions.
Irish Seed Savers Association maintains the country’s public seed bank with over 600 non-commercially available varieties of seed. We conserve and grow heritage apple trees and other fruit tree varieties. We run workshops throughout the year on various topics to help inform and teach others how to save seeds and grow their own food and be self-sustainable and to help encourage greater food security for future generations. We Grow, Preserve, Conserve and Share both our seeds, our knowledge and our love for the land. You can find information on our workshops and how to follow us throughout our website.
Conserving our Future
We locate rare varieties of vegetables, soft fruit, flowers, grains, potatoes and apple trees and then conduct research on them in our gardens. We then select varieties which are hardy and suitable for the local climate. This process takes time patience and skill and our subscribers, Friends of Seed Savers and the public are rewarded with tasty and productive varieties to grow at home.
One of Irish Seed Savers Association’s main aims is to raise public awareness about the vulnerability of Irish agricultural biodiversity to schools and community groups through workshops. We encourage and facilitate liaisons with government departments, universities and gene banks worldwide. As environmental issues come more the forefront in all of our lives, the small efforts of many make a real difference.
Irish Seed Savers Association exists as a living testimony to the richness and wealth of the agricultural legacy of our ancestors. Irish Seed Savers Association was founded by Anita Hayes in 1991. The work was initially done on a small farm in Co. Carlow before moving to Capparoe, Scarriff in 1996.
We were very fortunate to have the help of Dr. Keith Lamb who had conducted the original research into native Irish apples in the 1940s and Dr. Michael Hennerty former head of the Department of Horticulture in University College Dublin who has continued to provide wisdom and expertise. In 1996 the project moved to its present site in Scariff and in 1997 a FAS community employment scheme developed by Bridget Carlin secured employment for many staff.
Through the hard work of staff, volunteers and the generosity of subscribers and friends of Irish Seed Savers we have grown steadily since that time.
- In 1996 Michael Miklis, began efforts to conserve Irish grain on his own farm in Co Kilkenny.
- In 1997 the Native Irish Apple collection (Lamb/Clarke) was inaugurated by President Mary Robinson.
- In 1998 an Irish Brassica project was started in co-operation with the Wellesbourne Gene Bank in the U.K.
- From 1999 with the acquisition of new land we were able to build a purpose built Educational Facility and small Shop and Café. Our new building has also provided office and administration space. This land also houses our New Research Orchard, a Cob House, Earth Oven, and a Polytunnel.
- In 2013 we built the country’s first public seed bank which allows visitors to learn about the process of seed saving and the importance of conservation for long-term food security for future generations.
Irish Seed Savers Association achievements to date include
- The creation of the Native Apple Collection containing over 170 distinct varieties
- The creation of the Native Irish Grain Collection with 48 varieties
- The establishment of a Seed Bank containing more than 600 rare and endangered vegetable varieties
- The establishment of a Native Brassica Collection
- The creation of a Native Broadleaf Woodland and Wildlife Sanctuary
- Extensive areas of beautifully landscaped seed gardens and peaceful orchards which are open to the public
- Establishment of a colony of hives of Native Black Bee
- Maintenance of a separate living malus (apple) gene bank helping Ireland to meet its obligations in the area of conservation and sustainable use of Plant Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture (PGRFA)
- A unique orchard of over 33 self rooting varieties of apple trees that require no grafting for propagation. This is probably the largest collection of this type of apple tree in the world
- The donation of 1% of our earned yearly income to support other organizations with similar aims within Ireland and in the developing world
- 'Food in the Community' award 2016 from Irish Food Writers Guild
How You Can Get Involved
Supporters sign up for an annual membership – direct debit options are encouraged to help spread the value throughout the year.
Becoming a supporter entitles you to not only joining our community in conserving our food heritage, but you also will receive 5 packets of seed annually along with starter packs of heritage potatoes (subject to availability), 10% discount on Apple Trees and Workshops and a bi annual newsletter. You will also be welcome to free entry to Irish Seed Savers Organic Seed Gardens, Orchards and Woodlands.
Manuals on Seed Saving and Fruit Production are available so that so that these essential skills and the craft of Seed Saving can be passed on to future generations. We also offer workshops on a range of topics including Organic Gardening, Creating Orchards, Juicing, Composting, Biodiversity and Self-Sustainability.
To sign up now please go to Join / Renew or email us at email@example.com. We are available to discuss options further on 061-921856.
You can also support our work by letting us know of the apple tree and fruit tree varieties that you may have in your garden. The more information we have to help us catalogue varieties the more we can ensure the long-term survival of Ireland’s heritage species through our conservation work.
Irish Seed Savers Association is one of very few organizations in Ireland engaged in this urgent work; time is running out for finding these old varieties. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. Extinction is forever!
Today we have 15 dedicated staff, visiting students and researchers and numerous volunteers. To get involved please contact us by calling 061-921856 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We house around 600 heirloom vegetable varieties; 48 heirloom grain varieties; 170 native apple varieties and an heirloom potato collection. We welcome over 4,000 visitors annually.
To learn more about our events sign up to our E-Zine HERE.
Through contributions from donors, subscriptions from our supporters, and interest and funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pobal, Clare Leader, DCCAE and the IEN, we are able to provide this much need service to continue on our heritage food crop through conservation, research and collaboration to spread awareness of seed saving.
Become a Seed Saver today by joining our community.