Speaker Profiles 2024
Holly is a commercial vegetable and seed grower currently based at Trill Farm Garden in Devon. Alongside growing food, she also works for The Gaia Foundation Seed Sovereignty programme, educating & empowering commercial and community growers to produce and save local, open pollinated seed.
Talk summary: The implications of loss of genetic diversity on plant health, our health and the health of wider ecosystems.
We have lost some 75% of plant genetic diversity over the past century, largely due to the globalisation of our food system but also the shift away from farmer-led plant breeding. I'll be exploring the implication of this loss of genetic diversity on plant health, our health and the health of wider ecosystems. Sharing stories of growers in the UK seed network who are taking things into their own hands, creating diverse plant populations that are dynamic and collaborative, and hopefully resilient to our rapidly changing climate - using plant breeding and seed saving as an act of resistance!
Angus was born and grew up in Hong Kong. Afer a few years of working as an anti-GM campaigner at Greenpeace, he shifted to work with indigenous communites in Asia to safeguard farmers’ seeds and facilitate farmer-to-farmer agroecological learning in Asia for two decades. Recently, he joined Sims Hill Shared Harvest and Hazelnut Community Farm in Bristol to promote inclusive farming and culturally appropriate foods.
Talk Summary: Discovering the connections between seed sovereignty, climate change and community culture
In 2008, I was stuck after a few years of campaigning to stop the commercialisation of GM crops in Asia as the work relied substantially on reactive actions to corporate agendas rather than communicating a vision of our food system, in which the public could engage. On one seed
investigation trip, I met an indigenous farmer in Southeast China, he shared with me 22 heritage rice seeds adapted to different landscape and climatic conditions, while he explained that high-yield hybrid varieties (HYV) were bred to challenge the limitations of nature. After gaining this inspiration, I have committed to supporting small farmers in Asia to conserve their heritage seeds by setting up community seed banks and organising rural seed fairs.
I am happy to share the two-decade journey of how I discovered the connections between seed sovereignty, climate change and community culture through learning from farmers’ wisdom, and how these experiences helped my resettlement inBristol and participation in the Bristol Seed Swap. It’s far from too late to take collective actions to face the polycrisis.
Adam Alexander, the Seed Detective:
'How the domestication of vegetables is the story of civilisation’ -
Meetings with Remarkable Vegetables – from wild parent to cultivated offspring.
"I have a passion for growing fruit and vegetables, which I have been doing since I was a little kid. Not a year has passed since I was ten that I haven’t grown something to eat. I ran a small market garden in the late seventies when growing organically unusual vegetables was considered very odd. Trying to sell red Brussels sprouts or yellow zucchini was not a profitable business then, so I returned to film-making to support my love of horticulture. My interest in discovering rare, endangered but above all, delicious vegetables from around the world began as the result of meeting a remarkable lady in a vegetable market in Donetsk, Ukraine in the late eighties whilst making a documentary series there. So began a journey of discovery and learning about the social and cultural relationships we have with what we grow that I have been on for the best part of 35 years". More details about Adam, his work and his book can be found on his website https://theseeddetective.co.uk