Food and Seed Sovereignty
Seed and food sovereignty for climate change resilience is a core part of Gaia’s work. Food sovereignty is defined as ‘the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and regenerative methods’. We believe in the farmer and growers’ rights to breed and exchange diverse, open-pollinated seed which can be saved, shared and re-sown year after year.
Food and seed which is locally produced (and adapted!), is grown in nourished not intoxicated soils, and is rich in nutrients, is the future food system we are sowing. The way in which we grow and share our food is part of our responsibility to the future generations of all species.
Our UK and Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme is at the forefront of restoring biodiversity and resilience to our seed system.
To date we have trained 580 people in beginner, intermediate and advanced seed skills; Supported 19 new growers to produce veg seed commercially, making more diversity available to all; Nurtured 62 new community growers to produce their own veg seed and grain; and supported 100 growers to grow 276 new varieties from seed, both commercially and at community level.
Food and seed sovereignty go hand in hand with regenerative agricultural practices such as composting, water harvesting and polyculture (diversity of crops), often referred to as agroecology. Agroecological approaches to food growing are key for climate change resilience as they sequester carbon, cooling the planet rather than contributing to climate change. This approach is completely juxtaposed to the industrial agriculture system which generates vast amounts of greenhouse gases, is the driver of landgrabbing globally, destroys and pollutes biodiverse habitats, keeps animals in appalling conditions and places profit before all else.
Gaia is proud to work with small, family farmers globally, supporting diverse, local, agroecological farming practices. It is these farmers who feed over 70% of the global population, on a quarter of the land.
By offering trainings in reviving indigenous seed diversity and knowledge, by facilitating immersive community processes such as dialogues, eco-cultural mapping and calendars, and through strategic advocacy collaboration, we support communities to regain confidence in their traditional knowledge and their indigenous seed varieties. We promote peer-to-peer, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, encouraging communities to link up with others doing the same.
Find out more…
We believe that a food revolution starts with seed. The Gaia Foundation’s Seed Sovereignty Programme aims to support the development of a biodiverse and ecologically sustainable seed system here in the UK and Ireland. That means, wherever possible, organically produced and open pollinated seeds, grown locally to reflect the diverse growing conditions of the British Isles. Read more
Much of our work on seed and food is known as the Community, Seed and Knowledge (CSK) programme, an approach developed by Gaia with local communities and partners over the last three decades. CSK understands that the revival of indigenous, locally-adapted seed and food systems and traditional knowledge is the foundation of climate change resilience. Read more
A global photographic initiative celebrating the small-holder farmers and fisherfolk who produce over 70% of the world's food. Featuring over 300 images, 50 photographers, 50 farming communities and 6 continents, We Feed the World demonstrates how small-scale farming not only provides the majority of the world’s food but also offers solutions to many other planetary crises. Read more
The Seeds of Freedom trilogy charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity-rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system. Seeds of Freedom (2012) was narrated by Jeremy Irons, Seeds of Sovereignty (2013) by Theo Sowa & Seeds of Justice (2015) by Jon Snow. Find out more and watch all of the films here. Read more
The Gaia Foundation’s UK & Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme features in a new report from the Financial Times on the increasing need for resilience in our food system. Click here… Read More
Useful reports & publications
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We live in a time of multiple, complex crises. There are no easy answers. Working to uphold the health and diversity of our living planet is always rewarding, but we think you’ll agree it can sometimes feel like swimming against the stream. And yet like salmon we leap, and more often than you might expect, we make it. We invite you to make the next leap with us by making a donation of any size. Thank you for your solidarity.