Address: Irish Seed Savers Association, Capparoe, Scarriff, Co. Clare, Ireland   Phone: +353 61 921866   Email: info@irishseedsavers.ie

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SEED SOVEREIGNTY UK & IRELAND PROGRAMME

Irish Seed Savers are proud to be part of the Seed Sovereignty UK and Ireland Programme. Run by the Gia Foundation the aim of the programme is to support the development of a biodiverse and ecologically sustainable seed system in the UK and Ireland.

“Currently only 3% of all seed available to grow on the Irish and UK market is organic. That means the majority of the ‘organic’ products we purchase and consume are grown by organic methods, but not grown from organic seed. Gaia’s UK and Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme seeks to address this, and to support small-scale growers by developing a resilient agroecological seed system with regional diversity at its heart.”

Biodiversity is critical for ensuring a secure and sustainable food system. At a time of climate crisis, there has never been greater urgency to re-build global seed diversity. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: “Plant genetic diversity is one of the central preconditions for food security. It provides the genetic traits required to address crop pests, diseases and changing climate conditions”.

Diversity in plants also gives us a range of options for raising the healthiest and most productive crops. No matter what changes happen, in our food system, we will always be able to adapt if we have enough genetic diversity.

There is important work currently being done by various groups within the agroecological sector to address the challenges we face with our seed system. The experts working in this area have the right skills and knowledge to help effect change. However, the alarming rate at which we are losing our plant genetic diversity means that these efforts urgently need to be supported, coordinated and scaled up in order to make a real difference.

Working closely with all those involved in the existing seed movement – as well as our European colleagues – we will be supporting a diverse range of projects across various communities towards the production of local seed systems. Produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods the overall programme will be aimed at…

  • Strengthening regional seed growing networks and seed co-operatives.
  • Developing a website to provide information about the programme, seed saving techniques and where to buy organic seed.
  • Providing on-farm training in seed production and storage.
  • Reviewing regulatory requirements and making them accessible to all. Lobbying for more open seed regulation to allow for organic seed to enter the market more easily.
  • Supporting the creation of a database to hold information about varieties being grown across the UK and Ireland. This will enable growers to share knowledge about their performance in different regions and conditions. This will become increasingly critical in the context of climate change.
  • Establishing on-farm variety trials which will research the effectiveness of different seed varieties in various landscapes and across seasons.
  • Supporting Participatory plant-breeding (PPB) – a process of breeding which begins with the farmer, rather than institutions.
  • Engaging the next generation of farmers and growers through speaking engagements and connecting with apprenticeship schemes provided by the Soil Association.
  • Public-awareness and education campaign to engage the wider public on the loss of biodiversity, the need for action, and the merits of an agro-ecological approach to farming.

Wayne Frankham has joined Irish Seed Savers Assiocation and will be the ‘Regional Coordinator’ for Ireland.

Wayne will be supporting growers across Ireland, hosted within and working closely alongside the already well-established Irish Seed Savers. Wayne lives in rural Leitrim with his young family, where he has worked as a Community Organic Gardener since 2006. This has been a diverse role that includes growing & selling produce, working with schools, hosting training & events, and co-ordinating a community seed system and its associated website – SeedKeep.com. Wayne says: “While seed challenges are as varied as the seasons, community built resilience enables valuable connections for cultural and agricultural diversity; the environment, and each other. Drawing on the experiences of SeedKeep and meetings with various seed growers and organisations, I look forward to helping others to create many more of those essential connections for seed sovereignty and production through this extraordinarily timely opportunity with both the Irish Seed Savers Association and The Gaia Foundation.”

To find out more about the programme please visit http://www.gaiafoundation.org


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This project is supported by the Department of Social Protection and Pobal through the Community Services Programme.

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