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.

Tomato Plant Seed Co-OperativeSeed Head Seed Co-Operative

Our vision

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.

BBC Food and Farming Awards Seed Co-OperativeWe 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 Price and Kate Ayre grew seed for us in Suffolk before moving to Gosberton Bank Nursery in 2016, where they managed the merging of an existing seed business (Stormy Hall Seeds) with an abandoned farm at Gosberton, to what we have today.

 

Gosberton Bank Nursery Seed Co-OperativeGosberton Bank Nursery Seed Co-Operative

Our Team

Sharn Jones MSc Earth Sci FCMI MCIEH - General Manager

Frank Gundry-White - Head Grower

Jane Parker - Seed Shop Manager

Candice Sly - Customer Manager

Hana Balikova

We have a small, dedicated team of staff on site, growing and processing seed, as well as picking and packing to get them to our customers. They are assisted by volunteers and helpers, to whom we are incredibly grateful.

Our Board

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.

Dr Julia Wright - Vice-Chair and Secretary 

Julia has a professional background of 35 years in international farming and food systems research and development, with universities, NGOs, the UK government, and the UN. She has worked specifically on agrobiodiversity, seed systems and participatory plant breeding in Mexico, Cuba, Sri Lanka and Kenya, including through the Henry Doubleday Research Association where she led the International Programme from 2003-10. In 2011 she co-established what is now the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University, and leads a research programme on subtle forces in agriculture. She sits on the Board of the Biodynamic Association.

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.

Hans Steenbergen - Supply

Hans is a biodynamic farmer with over 20 years of seed production experience with Stormy Hall seeds. He produces seed and is active in biodynamic networks across the North of England and is a co-founder of the Seed Co-operative.

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.

Dr Amanda McMurray - Finance

Amanda is a business and technology professional with over 30 years of experience in UK, India, New Zealand and USA, with a track record of success in entrepreneurship, business development and investment, growing and mentoring small businesses and innovation projects across technology sectors including biotechnology, diagnostics, sensor technologies, and digital health.

TBC - Marketing

We are currently recruiting for a Marketing Director. If you think you have the skills to help fill this post (2-3 days per month) please get in touch at recruitment@seedcooperative.org.uk.