How Seedy Sunday works

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'How Seedy Sunday works' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'How Seedy Sunday works' page

An introduction for first-time visitors

By Lindy Sharpe

Where can you find a District Nurse, a Nun's Belly Button, a Lazy Housewife, a Fat Lazy Blonde and a Drunken Woman all in the same room? If you suggested a brothel, you're wrong.

In fact, they are all traditional varieties of garden vegetables (the first three are climbing beans, the last two lettuces), and they and many others, equally picturesque, are to be found at Seedy Sunday, the community seed swap that takes place every February in Brighton and Hove. And just in case you have the impression that the people who named vegetables in the past were uniformly scatological, there are descriptive and romantic names too: Black Valentine is another bean, Bull's Blood is a beetroot, and, poignantly, Cherokee Trail of Tears is a climbing bean reportedly so valued by the tribe of the same name that they took it with them when the were driven from their homelands. It now grows happily in southern England.

The event includes talks, demos and films - but seeds are still the stars

Seedy Sunday has been taking place every year since 2002, and has now expanded to include talks, demonstrations and films on saving and growing seed, as well as on wider issues such as local food and biodiversity. But the stars of the show are still the seeds, thousands of them, in little brown envelopes, with the names (or sometimes just a description - 'Lovely little yellow tomato, don't know the name') written on the outside.

Seeds are provided by the growers

These seeds are provided by the people who have grown them. Seedy Sunday volunteers and other gardeners donate saved seeds which are bagged up before the event. Some people bring jam jars full of seeds to the event where volunteers patiently bag and label them while others bring the seeds ready bagged and labeled with some growing instructions.  The seeds come in all shapes and sizes with stories attached!

Seeds are swapped not sold

Many of the old varieties available at the Seedy Sunday are not Listed (see Why seed swapping is important for an explanation of this eccentric regulation), so it is against the law to buy and sell them, but perfectly legal to grow them. Consequently, the seeds are not for sale (and you will not find them in commercial catalogues). There is an entry charge of £3 at the door and visitors are asked either to swap seed packets or to make a donation of 50p per packet to cover the costs of organizing the swap.

This page was added on 24/01/2008.
Comments about this page

Why not add February 14, 1989, Vancouver, as the first Seedy Sunday event?
I regard Sharon Rempel as one of the great unsung heroes of our time.
Her web site is

By Marjorie Stewart
On 15/02/2011

Chuffed.. My gardens awosme.. and i havnt paid for a thing.. besides the occasional One Pound' shop purchase which i usually just take any way.. oh i forgot was holding that.. -Which is my first way of getting free seeds. Then there's collecting the seeds from them from the very source.. ie.the flowers, fruit, root and vege which they are!- where there's Markets and fruit shops theses always a bin out back (or front on garage night) shop keepers don't usually mind if you ask for their waste either.. i tell them its for my animals. In particular tomatoes, pumpkins and peppers (definitely!), apples, avacardo, carrots (tops), potatoes (all sorts are easy!),citrus, peas, beans.. in fact i cant think of anything that hasn't worked.. I even have a coconut palm (from a coconut !). Dry the seeds out by wrapping them in newspaper and putting somewhere warm. I put mine on top of the water-boiler. It takes from about a week for say chillies pepper or mandarin seeds to a couple of months, for say date or avacardo. -city style wild-crafting! Then of course germinate them. Quality compost is pretty essential here, the difference compared to using low quality dirt makes a couple of quid worth it. However i find there's often broken packages of kids craft type grow kits in the shops from which you take the compost tabs that expand in water. when they're little take them outside for short periods, get them used to the weather and temperature. Morning sun though the window, then outside till the evening then warm at night under the boiler is what i do. Then i transplant them straight into the ground..thirdly.. for The Window box! for herbs and lettuce, its an amazing place. More often now fresh lettuce and herbs is sold in pots -with roots!- from the supermarket. ( i get mine from the compost bin after my flatmates have used the other parts) leeks, spring-oinion, chives, yams, spinach.. any vege sold with roots basically- sometimes even fancy cabbage too.. obviously..plant these! but usually in well drained soil..I have a baby cherry tree and apple. Both these grew from seeds i collect from a nearby attolment. Which has turned out to be my fourth great source of free seeds! The old people there are great, I visit regulary, loads of advice and happy to share their seeds, bulbs, cutting..Its been a real joy,m and i think they like my keen interst.My goal was mostly for a totally recycled garden ie fences, beds, furniture.. its a bit of an addiction. But really if you compare a pound a pound of beams or tommy, or spud, ie. one family meal to a31.30 a packet of twenty, fifty or a hundred! seeds.- In my success- essentially each bean seed has given well over nine times one supermarket purchase. One potato has given me up to eight more potatoes, I now have fresh herbs and fancy lettuce all the time! and will NEVER have to buy tommy again! Its been an awesome project,I am thinking Id like to start a seed exchange sometime.

By Auth
On 04/01/2013