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Why should anyone save their own seeds year after year? Surely the big seed firms are constantly bringing out new varieties which are more disease resistant and give higher yields than anything available before? Perhaps not
When gardeners saved their own seed year after year they automatically collected from plants which grew well in their area and could resist the diseases found there. If the diseases changed, the seeds which were saved changed also. Gradually, a wide range of different strains of most crops emerged, each well suited to the region in which it was grown. This genetic diversity ensured that for the most part pest and plant lived in balance with each other, and chemicals were not a prerequisite for crop production.
Unfortunately, most of these regional strains of crops and their inbred genetic diversity has been lost. Economic factors, including seed production by large chemical companies, as well as an ill-considered directive from the EU which actually made the sale of these unregistered seeds illegal, has greatly contributed to the decline in our genetic resources. In fact according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost since the beginning of the century.
The Irish Seed Saver Association is an organisation involved in the location and preservation of traditional varieties of fruit and vegetables. The Association maintains a seed bank which distributes seed of these non-commercially-available vegetables as well as a network of heritage potatoes. We pass them on to members so that they can learn to save them and in this way ensure a living agricultural legacy. A primary goal of the Irish Seed Saver Association is to bring Ireland's cultural and genetic heritage into the hands of ordinary people. One of the unique aspects of seed saving networks, which exist all over the world, is the opportunity to share in the responsibility and joy of conserving the planet's diminishing genetic resources in a real and practical manner.
Click here for more about the Irish Seed Savers Association .
Over the past seven years our collective efforts have resulted in:
- A seed saving network with non-commercial vegetable and potato varieties.
- The location and establishment of an Irish apple heritage collection in co-operation with the Armagh Orchards Trust and University College Dublin.
- The establishment of a heritage cereal project of native grains in co-operation with the Irish Genetic Resources Conservation Trust and Trinity College, Dublin.
- The commencement of a Brassica project , the aim of which is the evaluation and conservation of approximately 100 of Ireland's cultivated Brassicae.
Click here for the membership application form.