A great deal has happened in the last couple of years that could have major impacts on society and the environment for generations to come. The global pandemic known as Covid-19, historic wildfires raging across America, floods, fires and even snow in Australia has only highlighted the ongoing crisis regarding climate change.
Yet through all of the upheaval, inspiring stories from all over the world filled our news and social media feeds. From fundraisers to communities coming together, the sense of belief and hope strengthens our bonds when we are inspired by the humble actions of everyday people.
At Irish Seed Savers it’s important to note the amazing conservation work we have carried out. We preserve over 600 rare and threatened varieties of heirloom vegetable seed in our living seed bank, and through painstaking research and DNA profiling of our apple trees, we now hold the national collection of Irish heritage apple trees in our orchards, over 180+ varieties.
A far cry from our humble beginnings when our founder Anita Hayes, decided to undertake the task of creating Irish Seed Savers in her back garden in Co Carlow in 1991. One single humble act that has inspired hundreds of thousands of growers to visit our farm, purchase our seeds and trees and create generations of seed savers, or as I like to call them, Seed Saviours.
If you look closely enough, you’ll find thousands of organisations, communities and individuals throughout the world that, through small humble actions, are inspiring generations of growers to be more self-sufficient and protect biodiversity. Below are a few of my favourite organisations and stories that keep me humble. Take the time to visit their websites and learn about their incredible work.
The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance
The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance is a nonprofit organization working to assure an abundant and diverse supply of local seeds for the Rocky Mountain region (United States) through education, networking, and establishing community-based models of seed stewardship. Their mission is to create a network of seed growers, distributors and educators within their region. Through this network of communities they hope to be able to build the resources that will allow them to inventory their seed varieties, find out what we need, identify growers and stewards to conserve this diversity, and then to duplicate their collections.
ASEED Europe (Action for Solidarity, Equality, Environment, and Diversity Europe) is an international campaigning organisation. They target the structural causes of environmental destruction and social injustice. By campaigning on multinational corporations and their national and international influence spheres they strive to promote sustainable alternatives. Currently ASEED Europe focuses on issues related to the global food chain: the decline of biodiversity in agriculture and the availability of seeds, genetic engineering and power concentration by global agro/biotech giants with the overall objective of promoting food sovereignty.
Seeds4Resilience (Crop Trust Project)
Seeds4Resilience is working with the national gene banks of Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana. These five national gene banks conserve thousands of important plant samples that farmers could directly use and could help scientists develop more resilient, productive and nutritious crops. For years they have braved challenges including insufficient staffing and low levels of funding, which have put their seed collections at risk. The project aims to ensure that some of Africa’s most important national gene banks can ensure the long-term conservation of their seed collections.
SeedChange are based in Canada but work with farmers around the world to strengthen their ability to grow good food, starting with locally adapted seeds. Through local, regional and international collaborations they have supported over 30,000 small-scale farmers to improve their rights to fair wages, land, and seeds. One of their programs, The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, aims to create a movement for resilient seed systems across Canada. By working with more than 100 partners from civil society, government and business, they are creating seed hubs throughout Canada to increase the quality, quantity, and diversity of ecological seed grown in Canada.
The Seed Library Network
With a network of over 600 seed libraries dispersed across fifteen countries, The Seed Library Network offers various resources that allows communities to create their own seed libraries. How to maintain collections, guidelines on how to set up seed swaps, community gardens and seed saving videos are amongst many of their resources. With issues of food security, seed sovereignty and genetic diversity forming their core ethos, they embody the very best of community engagement.