The Seed Sovereignty Programme


The Seed Sovereignty Programme is an ambitious 3-year venture to develop a resilient, agroecological seed system across the UK and Ireland. The Gaia Foundation is working closely with actors across the existing seed movement - including the Soil Associationthe Organic Research Centrethe Irish Seed Savers Associationthe Seed Cooperative and the Landworkers Alliance - and supporting new and emerging projects across the diverse landscapes of the British Isles. This is the first large-scale collaborative effort of its kind in the UK and Ireland. 

With genetic and agro-biodiversity as its central focus, the programme is underpinned by the principles of seed and food sovereignty - the right to locally adapted seed, available to all.  The programme will support the broad range of agro-ecological farming operations that exist, incorporating all seed grown within these systems. It will encourage skill sharing, networking and collaboration across the UK seed movement, creating a more cohesive and connected counter force to the pressures of industrial agriculture, and the uncertainty ahead as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.  

Read more on     Background and Canadian origins

                         Development in the UK and Ireland 

email updates from Maria Scholten, Scottish cordinator

>  e-news no 5     August 2018
>  e-news no 3     May 2018

E-NEWS NO 6       January  2018

The Palestine Seed Library and other seed news 

To start 2019 with inspiring highlights from the Oxford Real Farming Conference, here is the video about Vivien Sansour, “The Seed Queen of Palestine” (with thanks to Maggie for pointing me at the link).   Vivien gave a brilliant talk about the Palestine Seed Library and expressed a wish to swap seeds internationally.

Other seed related workshops in Oxford were about Heritage grains with John Letts; approaches to seed production in the UK illustrating seed production from a Devon salad selling business diversifying into veg seed production and from Ireland a community seed saving perspective. Audio recordings of the workshops will be made available on the ORFC website and I will email these asap.

If you have seed events coming up, please forward them to me so that I can share them on the website and through this mailing list.


e-news no 5     August 2018

Visit Seed Cooperative in Gosberton – will you join?

For those of you interested to hear more about  the Seed Cooperative,  the full programme for their Autumn Open Day 15 September can be read here.  It incluses talks about outdoor tomato, a talk by Neil Munro about the Seed Programme and guided tours to see seed crops and seed processing equipment and plenty of networking opportunities.  We expect folk from Wales, Northern England and hopefully from Scotland. 

The plan is to leave from Scotland on Friday afternoon by car or mini-bus. Accommodation will be arranged near or in Peterborough. Return can be on Saturday afternoon after 4 pm or on Sunday, depending on the wishes of the delegates.

If you are interested in joining, please let me know asap and not later than the 31th of August.

First Seed Training Day a success

Exactly a month ago, the first seed training day in Scotland was held at Newton Dee near Aberdeen. With around 20 participants and good inputs and feedback, as can be glimpsed from the report here:

Some of the outcomes of the training were: requests for more hands-on training for example on seed cleaning and hand-pollinating. Also a request for a more intensive longer seed training. Thanks again to Tracy and Scotty at Newton Dee for hosting a very enjoyable day!

More updates with a full overview of Autumn events  to follow shortly,
Your coordinator!



e-news no 3     May 2018

Greetings to all!

A special welcome to those new to the Seed Sovereignty Programme mailing. There are now over 40 persons on this mailing list, half of whom are representing groups with further mailing lists. Please feel free to forward this news to anyone you may know with an interest in seeds, seed saving or Open Pollinated Varieties and the promotion of their use. Also, a kind reminder that your email is only kept for this e-news for the duration of the programme and if you wish to have it removed at any time, please let me know. Also, if you have ideas of suggestions for further topics for the mailing or activities for the programme please let me know.

April saw the lettuce seed saving trial starting on Lismore, in Moray, Inverness, Ayrshire, Perthshire and in Leith. An email from Lismore informed me that seeds were germinating there within 7 days. Hopefully the rest of Scotland can keep track with Lismore. My plan is to connect participants in the lettuce trial to share observations and experiences. This will be either through Skype or ZOOM, an easy online platform, later this spring.

The other focus in April was working towards more training workshops, a.o. on the Black Isle, on Shetland, Aberdeenshire and Edinburgh and connecting with events offered by colleagues in England.

At Newton Dee Camphill Village we sat together to map seed savers around Aberdeen, their interests and needs as regards training.  An impressive map emerged  from the wider Aberdeen area.Among the interests mentioned was to share knowledge about varieties that do well in the different regions of Scotland. The following training needs appeared: learn about isolation distances and techniques; number of seed plants; drying and storage; general knowledge about how to grow crops for seed. When we started exploring directions for further action, ideas came up for an event in Aberdeen together with chefs, schools and community-gardens.

The training needs topics mentioned will be al be covered during the Basic Seed Production Training in Newton Dee Camphill Village set for Saturday the 14th of July. More details below.

The conversation on the programme and possible synergies continued on Leith community crops in pots with Véronica Luque and Gillian Rodger, also involved in Slow Food Youth Network Scotland, part of the global Slow Food Youth Network: “connecting young people (18-35) across Scotland who want to create a good, clean & fair food future in Scotland & beyond”. Hpefully the issue of Open Pollinated seeds will be addressed at Slow Food's biennial global gathering later this year.

Training workshops coming up in the Seed Sovereignty Programme in June and July

Please note that for all training workshops offered through the programme travel (including accommodation) can be reimbursed, even for regional travel if costs are an issue. Please get in contact about travel reimbursement with me before travelling. All events listed require RSVP at


Monday 11 June Tour of SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture). SASA has the statutory task for seed and variety testing in Scotland. Specially for the Seed Programme SASA will open its doors, for you to see the Official Seed Testing Station where you will be able to ask questions to the seed pathologist; SASA's seed storage and the variety testing site. A good opportunity to tap into their knowledge and expertise. SASA is located at Roddinglaw Road near Edinburgh Airport. Lunch will be provided. @ 11am – 4 pm.

Saturday 16 June Trill Farm Garden East Devon. Advanced training about selection, given by Ben Gabel from Real Seeds. This is the second workshop with the South West Seed Savers Co-operative and The Real Seed Catalogue and will be a chance for growers to get more in depth training on plant selection for seed production. The day will have a practical focus, with demonstrations and hands on selection on a wide range of crops. The workshop is aimed at growers who have some experience and knowledge of seed saving and there are a couple of places for delegates from Scotland. @9:30 – 16:30. Please contact me for more information or to join.

Sunday 17 June Basic Seed Production Training Day in Darlington, given by Hans van Steenbergen, Stormy Hall Seeds. Meant for participants in Northern England, there are a couple of places reserved for delegates from Scotland. A good opportunity to network with Landworkers Alliance groups and growers in NW and NE England. @10 am – 4:30 (approx).


Saturday 14 July Basic Seed Production Training Day at Newton Dee Camphill Village near Aberdeen. The training will be given by Neil Munro, former head of the Heritage Seed Library and manager of the Seed Sovereignty Programme. The training will include hands-on sessions in Newton Dee garden and there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions.@ 10 am – 5 pm. Lunch will be provided.

Saturday 21 July Seed Cooperative Gosberton Lincolnshire 2018 AGM and Open Day with seed saving workshop @ 11:30 am - 5:00 pm. From Aberdeenshire there is now interest to travel as a group, leaving on Friday and returning on the Sunday. Who else wishes to join? Please let me know.

Interesting events outside the Seed Sovereignty Programme:

Saturday 2 June @ 9 -5 Sour Dough Bread Making Workshop at Newton Dee Bakery with Jean-Marc Albisetti. Bieldside, Aberdeen.

Introduction to SD bread making with the history of cultivated grains and a practical demonstration. Participants will make their own SD loaf, and network in small groups.

Jean-Marc is a French artisan bread maker currently living in Sussex, he is passionate about the benefits of SD bread making and the need to preserve heritage grain varieties. The day will be a mixture of practical learning, together with the theory behind it. To book a place, please email




Latest News...

Cycle Routes Blackisle.
Highland Liftshare. Sign up for free now

TBI Business Directory

Add Your Business

Do you run a sustainable business on or near the Black Isle? Add it to the TBI business directory

Spread The Word...

We are part of the rapidly expanding worldwide Transition Towns movement. The Black Isle is a peninsula of about 100 sq miles ENE of Inverness in Scotland, UK.