Edinburgh Seed Network

Edinburgh Seed Network would aim to facilitate the sharing of seeds among home and community growers in Edinburgh, ensuring everyone has access to growing food that’s good for the environment and good for us. It would do this through:

  • Supporting the creation and promotion of community seed libraries at community hubs and gardens across the city

  • Supporting home growers to set up peer-led seed circles

  • Organising seasonal events and educational workshops aligned with the growing cycle to swap seeds, share skills, deposit seeds in community seed libraries, and celebrate

  • Celebrating seed and growing through interwoven art, music and stories that bring people together


We would focus on open pollinated seed varieties so seeds can be saved into the future. We recognise that seed sovereignty is compromised by our current food economy. The vast majority of commercially available seed is grown on a global industrial scale and while engineered to resist certain pests, is not well adapted to the diversity of the local environments people grow in and often not designed to be saved and regrown. In our living history, this has led to a depletion in genetic diversity in the produce we can grow and a consumerist perspective on seed as something to be bought cheaply and grown out once. We want to provide resources and workshops for home and community growers to learn about saving seed, seed sovereignty, and how we can very practically contribute to a regenerative sustainable food system where everyone can grow food.


Edinburgh is full of home and community growers working across the whole city, some of whom are already saving seed and considering sustainability in how they grow their food. Working with community garden partners and wood workers, we want to provide engaging physical hubs in different locations where seed can be stored and shared. Working with home growers, we want to support the initiation and ongoing activities of peer-led seed circles in the city, sharing resources and learning.

Seed Circles

As inspired by Real Seeds, seed circles are small groups of 5-10 growers who each take on stewardship of a certain type of seed, committing to cultivating and sharing it with the rest of the group. This process continues year on year, with the group sharing the seed more widely as they wish. They might also choose to come together socially and to learn about wider related issues.


Seed Libraries

A seed library is a physical hub (potentially with a digital aspect) where saved seed is stored and made available to other growers on a free to borrow basis. Seed borrowers grow it out and return its equivalent to the library at the end of a growing season.


When we save and share seed and think together about seed sovereignty, seed becomes about more than growing food. It is a creative process, with each seed carrying at least one story (often more!) and its own way for humans to connect with nature. We want to celebrate this with stories, music, and art in all its forms, working with communities to incorporate this into seasonal events and reconnecting with traditional seed practices. In addition, we would aspire towards commissioning artists to work with communities to embed a cultural element in the static seed libraries.


Why the contribution is important

Many people have started growing food during the pandemic lockdown, and many people in Edinburgh have been growing food for a long time. Now is the opportune moment to connect these communities and sustain good and environmentally sound food growing practices into the future of our city. We also know there is a (perceived?) lack of land available to grow food, so networking people is essential to ensure we work together to identify and manage growing spaces well.

by covery on August 14, 2020 at 12:47PM

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Average rating: 4.5
Based on: 2 votes


  • Posted by Cherry August 17, 2020 at 13:00

    I'm interested in the seed circle idea. Who is the 'we' you refer to? Are you an organised group?
  • Posted by covery August 24, 2020 at 17:41

    Hi! I've currently set up a seed circle with a few friends and we're opening up the discussion about a seed library and network of seed libraries at the Salisbury Centre (one of my friends works in community outreach there and volunteers with their garden). We've not formally constituted a group as yet, but we hope to - at the moment the folk involved in bringing this concept note together are just 4 of us in our spare time. I work as a sustainability professional so have a reasonable background for it :) If you're interested in setting up a seed circle or being part of bringing things together, drop me a line on c.a.overy@gmail.com
  • Posted by heatherdavies October 05, 2020 at 22:12

    Great idea - native and specially adapted varieties are key to ensuring local food security, biodiversity and plant resilience, all of which obviously work to slow the climate crisis.
    I'm involved in a community growing initiative and we have talked about starting little seed libraries in boxes around our area (Leith) and the wider city, on streetcorners, by parks, schools etc. Is that the sort of seed library you're envisaging, or something completely different?
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