Our mission is to sow the seeds of a healthy and resilient organic food system that promotes diversity, democracy and a closer relationship with our food, and those who grow it.
The Seed Co-operative exists to shine a spotlight on the vital, but all-too-often forgotten, role of the humble seed in building a resilient food system.
The future of food has to be rooted in democracy, diversity and health. That means diversity of ownership and shared knowledge, with diversity of genetics and wildlife. Working with diversity is adopting nature’s way of nurturing the health of our planet and people.
Varieties that are open pollinated and adapted to organic growing systems are the essential ingredients in making this happen. That’s where the Seed Co-operative comes in.
We grow, process and sell organic, open-pollinated seed for the UK and beyond, and develop new varieties through organic plant breeding, to support the collective work of those striving towards making agro-ecological farming and food sovereignty a reality. We want you to know where your seed comes from; who grew it and where, and even who bred each variety.
We’re not interested in tricksy seed biotechnology, or dominating the world’s seed supply. Instead, we believe passionately in breeding open pollinated seeds that everyone can grow, everyone can save for the next year, and everyone can afford. All our sustainable futures depend on it.
Our Journey So Far
The Seed Co-operative came into being in 2014 as an initiative of the Biodynamic Association, supported by Garden Organic and the Organic Research Centre, working with the Open Pollinated Seeds initiative and experienced seedsman Hans Steenbergen.
We established ourselves as a Community Benefit Society to provide a co-operative membership organisation open to everyone: farmers, growers, home gardeners, chefs, professionals and amateurs alike. Similar projects are establishing themselves across the globe from Columbia to Canada, India to Ethiopia, and throughout continental Europe, in response to the threats of industrial food production over the last century.
In 2016 we bought Gosberton Bank Nursery in Lincolnshire, which had been largely abandoned for four years. Our 24-acre home, now nursed back to health thanks to the hard work of staff and a host of volunteers, includes 2.5 acres of glasshouses with a rainwater-fed reservoir for irrigation, buildings for seed processing and storage, and housing for staff. In 2017 we were a finalist in the BBC Food and Farming Awards. We achieved organic certification in April 2018.
David, with his partner Kate, grew seed for us in Suffolk before moving to Gosberton Bank Nursery in 2016. As our Managing Director, he is responsible for the development of the Seed Co-Operative as an organisation. David previously ran his own business in practical land management, mainly dealing with nature reserves, and has also worked for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Environment Agency and Heritage Lottery Fund.
Kate is our longest-serving member of staff, having taken on the growing of seed crops in Suffolk for us before moving to Gosberton with David. As well as our lead grower on-site, she has been the mainstay of our seed sales operation, working with part-time staff and volunteers to process, pack and manage seed orders. Before joining us, Kate combined motherhood with working in complementary health as a reflexologist before changing direction towards her other passion - growing.
Henry L'Estrange - Chair.
Henry has worked in the startup world for 25 years, building his own companies, providing strategic consulting and leading successful change. He also works as a trustee and mentor, and for the last 15 years has been trying to live more sustainably, growing fruit and veg and working on greentech projects.
Jenni Rosenbrock - People & Legal.
Also the Biodynamic Association's representative on our board, Jenni is an education consultant who has worked in education for over 25 years, mainly teaching Horticulture in Special schools and colleges. She has a large garden where she grows most of her own fruit and vegetables, and she has been saving seed for about twelve years.
Katie Kingett - Supply.
Katie is the Productive Garden Supervisor at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, where she has worked for the past 5 years. Katie previously worked as a teacher, in the UK and Spain, before retraining in horticulture. She has been proactive in developing her knowledge of seed saving, with a particular focus on heritage crops. This involved volunteering at the Heritage Seed Library and training with the Gaia Foundation's UK Seed Sovereignty Programme, focusing on production, selection and processing.
Dr Bruce D. Pearce - Policy and Regulation.
Bruce worked for the Organic Research Centre for 21 years where he held a number of roles including Director of Research & Innovation and acting CEO. Before that he managed research programmes for the UK Government and worked on Gardening Which? He has a PhD in Horticulture and his recent research activities have included plant breeding and seed policy and approaches to knowledge exchange and participatory research. Bruce now runs Fearann Consulting Ltd which focuses on sustainable and organic gardening, food & farming with clients including Soil Association Scotland, Garden Organic, IFOAM EU, ICROFS and the EC’s Research Executive Agency.
Sarah Johnson - Finance
tbc - Marketing
David Price - Managing Director