Irish Seed Savers - Egg and Chicken

The Seed of Food System Resilience

Conversation with Jennifer McConnell, Irish Seed Savers

The first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic here in Ireland coincided with Spring and a spectacular Spring at that. Suddenly people had a lot more time on their hands, and many turned their hand to growing their own food. There was suddenly an unprecedented demand for seed. But as we try to support local food systems (hopefully a lasting effect of the crisis) or even become a little more self-sufficient, we need to consider where that seed itself comes from; a question which has become all the more pressing with Brexit fast approaching, and how the question of seed impacts on our food system resilience and food sovereignty (see earlier blog with Jennifer from Irish Seed Savers, for a brief explanation of this term).

While in the midst of lockdown 1 back in May, and following an intense period of high demand for their seeds, Jennifer McConnell of Irish Seed Savers took the time out to speak to me about their work, how they had been impacted by Covid-19 and how it all fits into the big picture of climate and food systems resilience. While seed demand soared during the pandemic, Irish Seed Savers had already been experiencing a surge in demand before Covid-19 hit, something that Jennifer attributes to people’s growing concern about climate change and their desire to have more control over that they eat. Seed is a vital link in creating more resilient local food systems. You could say it is where it all begins (although really the soil is where it all begins, but that is for another day!).

Check out our conversation back in May. Total interview time is approx. 30 mins but it is split into 5-7 min thematic sections.



I have been an Irish Seed Savers Supporter for many years because I truly believe in the importance of maintaining open-pollinated heritage seed varieties (countless varieties of which have already been lost) in order to support biodiversity and guard at least some of our food supply from the control of corporate greed. But it is also a huge joy to be an Irish Seed Savers supporter since each year you get to receive their seed catalogue early and select your free supporter seeds (depending on the supporter level you choose) and orders lots more exciting and interesting varieties. Supporters also benefit from discounts on the excellent courses offered by Irish Seed Savers on things like Polytunnel Growing, Creating an Orchard, Seed Saving Skills and lots more, and on their incredible heritage apple tree collection, and invitations to events like ‘seed swaps’ and apple day. You’ll also receive regular tips and updates on what to do in the garden each month, which are really useful for keeping things on track.

An Irish Seed Saver supporter subscription or voucher would make an excellent Christmas present for the gardener in your life (or for you). And you can feel warm and fuzzy on Christmas day about being a guardian of our food heritage!


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