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

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Small-scale Seed Producers Bring Diversity back to Our Soil.

From Monday 18th March, small-scale seed producers across Ireland and the UK will be celebrating Seed Week to raise awareness of the benefits of buying locally grown and adapted, organic seed.

Seed Week is coordinated by The Gaia Foundation who are championing the Seed Sovereignty programme in Ireland and the UK. Lead by Irish Seed Savers Association for Ireland, the programme aims to increase the diversity of seed being grown on home soil by supporting budding and existing small-scale food growers to also become seed producers.

Rowan Phillimore, Deputy Director of the Gaia Foundation states, “It surprises most people to know that the majority of the food labelled organic on our supermarket shelves is unlikely to be grown originally from organic seed. Whilst the produce itself will have been grown using chemical free methods, the seed will most likely have been imported from Europe and grown with chemicals, because there simply isn’t the home grown, organic seed available in sufficient quantities yet. There is a huge opportunity here to close this gap, creating a truly ecologically sound food system from seed to plate. What’s more, this is an extremely viable market. There is great potential for committed organic seed producers and we’re trying to support them.”

Jennifer McConnell, General Manager with Irish Seed Savers , added, “Ireland has some of the richest agricultural fertile soil in Europe, yet we grow the least food here on our island. It is important for a greater collaboration between food growers, seed producers, and the general public, to support local food growing but also to know where their food’s seed has come. As the majority of seed is imported it leaves us as a nation vulnerable to threats. Here at Irish Seed Savers Association we work with hobby gardeners, market gardeners and farmers to protect our heritage food seed and fruit tree collections as well as provide training to encourage growers to also grow and save their own seed. Ireland’s history of famine and food poverty should encourage us all to do what they can to protect our ability to feed ourselves. We ask everyone to not only buy from local farmers and market gardeners, but to also be mindful from where they source their seed when they grow their own food. It is up to us all to build greater sustainability in our food cycle, protect our food accessibility and implement food security for now and future generations.”

Seed Week will also raise awareness of the consolidation of the global seed industry and the grave risk that this poses to global food security. Wayne Frankham, the programme’s Regional Coordinator for Ireland, points out, “Just four seed companies now control 60% of the global seed market. They have a monopoly and set the agenda for seed – the very heart of all life. It is critical that to counter this risk, small-scale producers are supported as they are the bastions of diversity. It is this diversity which will be critical in the future as the impacts of climate change are widely felt and crops suffer in unexpected ways. We must take a stand to buffer diversity in the UK and Ireland, and that’s what this work is all about.”

About The Gaia Foundation

We are a small organisation with over 30 years’ experience accompanying partners, communities and movements around the world to revive bio-cultural diversity, to regenerate healthy ecosystems and to strengthen community self-governance for climate change resilience.

Seed and food sovereignty for climate change resilience is a core part of Gaia’s work. Food sovereignty is defined as ‘the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and regenerative methods’. Food which is local, is grown in nourished not intoxicated soils, and is rich in nutrients. This goes beyond food ‘security’; it prioritises local and national economies and markets over international trade, and our responsibility to future generations of all species through the way in which we grow our food.

About Irish Seed Savers

Through growing, preserving, propagating and sharing rare heritage seeds and fruit trees Irish Seed Savers is Ireland’s main conservation NGO nurturing Ireland’s biodiversity and sustainability. Our objective is to preserve Ireland’s rich food crop heritage by conserving rare varieties of vegetables, grains, potatoes and heritage apple trees, suitable for our climate and soil. We connect with communities throughout Ireland to encourage and share our skills to provide awareness, education and on-site opportunities to teach the importance of self-sufficiency, seed sovereignty programme and protecting our environment This knowledge and seed base means that Ireland continues to have some control over its future food security in times of continuing industrialisation of food and diminishing resources worldwide.

At our working farm in Scariff, County Clare, we have 20 acres of organic seed gardens, heritage orchard trails and woodlands that are open to the public, giving accessibility to the richness in our biodiversity and ecology.

To date, we have saved and researched over 600 varieties of organic, open pollinated heritage seeds – some even from extinction, which are housed in our purpose built living seed bank. Our extensive orchards hold the national apple tree collection with over 170 varieties as well as the countries only public Self-Rooting Orchard. We carry out extensive conservation research to protect our food heritage and to give insight into ever changing growing conditions in Ireland.

We share our skills and knowledge on seed saving, gardening and other sustainable living skills through workshops, courses, camps, schools, outreach programmes, events, team building and family days.


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Opening Times
Tues - Fri 9.30am - 4.30pm
Sat 12pm - 4.30pm
Closed Sun - Mon
Entrance to Organic Seed Gardens, Orchards and Woodlands is free to children & subscribers.

Irish Seed Savers CLG - Registered Charity Number 20045029, CHY 13989
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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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