Pumpkin garden

Open Source Seeds

Apologies for the recent blog hiatus. This post is in support of episode 31, the Open Source Seeds Budcast.

As some of you may know, Esiah Levy of the SeedsShare project recently sadly passed away. Esiah featured in episode 12 of the Podcast, where he spoke with passion about seed sharing and food security. If you’re still making last minute additions to your 2019 seed orders, I’m hoping you might support his work and consider adding some open pollinated seeds to your collection.

Below are some reasons why open pollinated seeds are a good thing and where you might source them.

Why open pollinated seeds?

I nicked the title of this post from Adrian Ely of the University of Sussex. Adrian gave a talk at this year’s Seedy Sunday event in Brighton, about why open crossing and free circulation of seeds is important. There are many reasons, which I explain briefly in the episode, however an important one is this:

Full article available at Philip H. Howard’s website

Adrian showed a copy of this chart during his talk. It illustrates that seed production occurs under many different brand names across the world but ownership rests in the hands of a small number of parent companies. These parent companies have the ability to mass-produce and market F1 hybrid, patented seeds. These lack the genetic diversity of open pollinated seeds, leaving the resultant plants less able to cope with diseases or climatic and environmental changes. The seeds produced by these F1 hybrid plants are no use going forward, so you end up reliant on the producer-patent-holder for more seed. When the seed supply rests in so few hands, you can see why growers, particularly food producers, might be nervous.

Where to source seeds

Irish Seed Savers Association

Vital Seeds 

The Seed Co-operative 

Real Seeds 

Brown Envelope Seeds 

Tamar Organics

Poyntzfield Herbs

Eco Seeds

Beans and Herbs

Seed Savers Exchange

London Freedom Seed Bank

Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library

Organic Seed Alliance

For more information


With thanks to Neil Munro of the Gaia Foundation for help with the Budcast and blog post and to Esiah Levy for inspiring me to explore this topic.

To help support his young family, Esiah’s colleagues have set up a GoFundMe page where you can donate should you wish to.

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