The London Freedom Seed Bank is a London-wide network of seed savers, community gardeners and
food justice activists dedicated to saving, storing and distributing open-pollinated seed varieties.
It was created in 2012, by Azul Thomé and others, in response to Vandana Shiva’s worldwide call to occupy and protect seed heritage.
Today, it is volunteer-run by a team of 4 people: Charlotte Dove (co-director), Julie Riehl (co-director), Helene Schulze (co-director) and Richard Galpin (Steering Group member).
The London Freedom Seed Bank began by hosting 7 workshops over 12 months with over 50 Freedom Seed Savers. These workshops taught the value of attention to seed and the skills of seed saving.
At the end of each workshop, participants selected a packet of seed with the promise to return some seeds the following year. This first return of saved seed was marked with a festival in October 2013, gathering around 150 people.
Since then, the London Freedom Seed Bank works on several fronts.
First, raising awareness of the politics of the global seed regime and the importance of seed sovereignty, through talks, workshops, film screenings and seed storytelling circles.
Second, it aims to reskill urban food growers and gardeners with the ability to grow, save and store organic seed, creating a growing network of Freedom Seed Savers. With these savers, they maintain a living collection, of around 30-40 varieties of London-grown seeds. These seeds are shared and distributed for free to all who want to grow food.
Through its activities, the London Freedom Seed Bank deeply promotes collaboration and partnership.
It organizes workshops and publishes short pieces on its website, that you can download for free – “Introduction to seed saving”; “Saving Lettuce Seed”; “Small-scale Seed Processing and Storage”, etc.
It travels to community events throughout the year to share skills and seeds and offer their home-made seed cleaner to anyone who needs it.
In 2018, the London Freedom Seed Bank also participated in the Global Generation’s Seeds for a Better World project, the aim of which was to facilitate knowledge sharing between young and older seed savers.
The London Freedom Seed Bank collaborated by building a mobile seed bank, holding 20 different London-saved varieties. It was conceived as a discovery tool, interactive and tactile, allowing people to “pour the seeds into their hands for closer inspection whilst listening to the stories of those who have saved them”.
The London Freedom Seed Bank is currently composed of 30 rare and unusual seed varieties, mainly grown and saved in London.
Some of these varieties, among which the Pink Plum tomato, the Mayan Jaguar lettuce, the Lablab beans or the French marigold, are presented on its website, through beautiful postcards specially made for the London Mobile Seed Bank.
Seeds are usually available by attending events of the London Freedom Seed Bank (fairs, seed swaps, training events, etc.) As face-to-face events are for now limited, it is also possible to receive seeds by post.
The London Freedom Seed Bank distribute seeds for free, in small packets only.
Full details of how to request seeds from the bank will be circulated in late 2020, once the seed harvest is gathered, and the LFSB has a full sense of the amount of stocks available for distribution.
The organisation will prioritise network members and growers who can help to increase the numbers of London-saved and shared seeds by returning seed to the bank, or sharing seeds with neighbouring growing spaces.
The London Freedom Seedbank welcomes volunteers to assist at events, running seed saving training, using Airtable to track our seed stocks or maintain communications. If interested, please get in touch by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LFSB has not developed membership policy yet, but it is possible to support its improvement by making donations. You can contact the organisation as well if you are interested by that option.
Last but not least, the London Freedom Seedbank needs you to share its work with London-based growers who could be interested in joining the network, as well as with any kind of person that would be happy to support the action of local seed saving!