Seedy Sunday: the event

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Seedy Sunday: the event' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Seedy Sunday: the event' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Seedy Sunday: the event' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Seedy Sunday: the event' page

An overview and short history

By Lindy Sharpe

Seedy Sunday the event is the UK's biggest community seed swap. It takes place every February in Brighton and Hove, in southern England (see Seedy Sunday 2008).  In return for a donation or in exchange for seed they have saved, growers can choose seeds from dozens of traditional varieties of garden vegetables, to take home and grow.

These open-pollinated, 'heritage' varieties are often no longer commercially available, but are naturally well adapted to local growing conditions - as well as being tasty and colourful. At the seed swap, experienced local growers are on hand to advise on the practicalities of seed saving and growing from seed, and there are films, displays and talks to inspire you to go home and get growing.

A short history of the event

The short but illustrious history of Brighton and Hove Seedy Sunday began in 2001, when two members of Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group  (yes, BHOGG) went on holiday to Vancouver, Canada. There they happened upon a seed swap, organised by Sharon Rempel of Saltspring Seeds.

A seed swap is a sort of fair, where growers exchange seeds from plants they have grown themselves, meet kindred spirits, and reassure each other that preferring home-saved seeds to bought ones does not mean that they are just stingy or eccentric. The Brighton gardeners were so impressed that when they got back to England they persuaded a group of fellow growers to help organize a similar event. The result, the UK's first ever seed swap, took place in St George's Hall, in Kemptown in Brighton, in February 2002.

The event has grown

Since then, though still run entirely by volunteers, the venue has changed, first to the Old Market in Hove then to the bigger Hove Town Hall and now to the iconic Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. The event has grown to include talks, demonstrations, displays, films, plant sales, second hand books, crèche, cafe and other activities that make the event so lively today.  There's even a yurt!  But at heart it remains a community seed swap: a place where experienced and aspiring growers from the same area share seeds for the following year's crop and tips on how to grow them.

Nothing beats the satisfaction

Nothing beats the satisfaction of growing a fruitful crop from seeds you have gathered, dried and sown yourself, unless it is the pleasure of sharing them with other growers, and sharing their successes in return. And beyond this, there is the larger knowledge that by saving these garden varieties from extinction, you are helping to protect not only your local community's but also the planet's biodiversity. For all these reasons, in 2015 almost 3,000 people paid £3 each for the pleasure of rummaging through trays and boxes filled with tiny, hand-filled bags of seeds, and comparing notes with their fellow growers.

This page was added on 26/01/2008.