‘Seedy Sunday’ at the Dolphin Inn over the weekend defied the weather and attracted Wellington gardeners to a new initiative to promote sharing and exchanging seeds, many of them local or heritage varieties not available in garden centres and commercial outlets. The initiative is run by Transition Town Wellington, the local branch of a nation-wide eco group and it joins other Seedy Sundays which have been taking place aroundBritain over the last few weeks.
Organiser Val Mister gathered a team of like-minded gardeners and enthusiasts to bring seeds saved from their own fruit, vegetable, herb and flower gardens to exchange or for visitors to take in return for small donations. Val was involved in the long-running Brighton ‘Seedy Sunday’ event when she lived in the town. This year’s event there took place last week, attracting 3000 people with about 10,000 packs of seed crossing the seed swap table. This is the first time Wellington has had its own formal ‘Seedy Sunday’, although seeds have been shared more informally for 3 years.
Fellow organiser, Helen Gillingham, began to collect seed from her own large allotment 8 years ago. She believes in the motto ‘Grow what you eat; eat what you grow’ and gives talks on growing organic fruit and vegetables, offering seasonal advice and tips about how to save time and still produce successful crops. The talks – which are free – are on 18 February, 8 April, 8 July and 9 September from 6.30 to 8pm at the Methodist Church, Wellington Road.
But Seedy Sundays are under threat from new EU legislation which threatens to ban swapping seed, growing heritage varieties and even saving seed from year to year. The swapping of seeds between private individuals would be subject to costly annual licensing and registration fees.
EU seed lists determine which ones can and cannot be legally sold. As maintaining a seed on the list is prohibitively expensive, only a few make it. Those that do are selected on the basis of uniformity and handling quality of the produce. As a result many seed varieties are facing extinction. A campaign to stop these draconian proposals becoming law is being coordinated by Garden Organic and The Heritage Seed Library.
Report & Photos: Gill Paltridge