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Briain Walsh, a forestry student manuring apple trees at Seed Savers in Scarriff. Photograph by John Kelly.

Irish Seed Savers seek ‘Community Seed Guardians’

COMMUNITIES across Ireland are being encouraged to grow and save their own seed together in a major new programme being launched by Scariff-based, Irish Seed Savers Association.

The Community Seed Guardians Programme is a training and mentoring programme for communities across the country to grow and save their own food seed. The programme was developed with funding received through Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together programme, which was established in response to Covid-19 to build resilience in communities.

With growing awareness of climate change and fear over the limitations in the food supply chain brought into focus by the pandemic, the Guardian Programme will work with established community gardening groups to reduce Ireland’s reliance on imported food and food seed. Training community growing groups to grow and save their own food seed will increase access to seed availability and create greater community engagement with the full food supply from seed to plate.

“We are excited to be given this support by Rethink Ireland, bringing the experience we have built over 30 years to the wider community across the island,” said Jennifer McConnell, General Manager of Seed Savers. “The growing demand for seed has been evident this year as more people take greater interest in taking control in their food supply, as well as doing more to reduce food miles, in an effort to contribute to climate action. Covid-19 and Brexit has also raised awareness about the threat to our food seed supply, so we are delighted to share our skills with communities, to help them build their own seed supply for long-term food resilience.”

Irish Seed Savers will provide training and mentoring in seed growing and seed saving for ten community gardens. These will be led by experienced facilitators, learning the steps to enhance seed supply for community gardeners around the island of Ireland, without having to rely on food seed imports to grow their own food.

This is a two-year programme and will require commitment of six days training, the total value of which will be over €1,000 per group. Mentoring, seeds, and ongoing support will also be available.

Further details on how to apply are available at www.irishseedsavers.ie/blog. The closing date for applications is January 18, 2021.

Irish Seed Savers has been in operation since 1991. Originating from an ambitious effort to create a central store of food crop seeds and fruit trees where none had previously existed, the organisation’s work to-date has been to research and protect rare, heritage and naturalised open pollinated food crop seeds and fruit trees on a 20-acre farm in Scariff.

Curating the country’s public seed bank of 600 varieties of heritage seed and the country’s 180 varieties of heritage apple trees, Seed Saver’s work has expanded over the years to include an education and outreach.


About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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