The Gaia Foundation Seed Sovereignty Programme
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that seed diversity is critical for ensuring a secure and sustainable food system, and as such is a crucial component of food security.
In the UK seed diversity is declining, and we rely on seed imported from Europe or further afield. This seed is typically chemically produced for uniformity and yield over and above resilience to a changing and localized climate, in the way that open-pollinated seed from a locally grown and harvested plant would be.
Over the decades, there has been a steady decline of local seed producer industry and knowledge in UK, and seeds and grains grown here for centuries are on the brink of extinction. This risks compounding our dwindling food production self-sufficiency, which the NFU say has fallen from 78% in 1984 to 62% in 2015 and may fall to less than 50% by 2080.
Through a regionally delivered model across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the Seed Sovereignty Programme is working to achieve an increase in seed diversity and locally adapted seed and thriving local community seed offerings across the UK & Ireland.
They are doing this by training networks of growers in the skill of seed saving, and supporting these trainees to go on and create commercially viable small scale seed businesses, social enterprises, cooperatives and community hubs where locally adapted and resilient seed can be made available. The SSP will also support growers to trial and produce new seed varieties, and conduct research into the economic viability of small-scale seed production here in the UK.
In this way they are hoping to ensure that UK-produced, open-pollinated seed is at the heart of the regenerative agriculture movement.
Treebeard is providing multi-year funding to the Gaia Foundation, restricted to the Seed Sovereignty Programme.