Irish Seed Savers Association is a non-profit organization based in Ireland dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Ireland's native and heritage seed varieties. Founded in 1991, the organization has played a vital role in safeguarding Ireland's agricultural biodiversity by collecting, saving, and distributing heirloom and rare seed varieties.
Their main objective is to protect Ireland’s food crop heritage for future generations. Their work focuses on the conservation of heirloom vegetable seeds and Irish heritage apple trees. In recent years they have expanded the scope of their work to include crop varieties from all over the world that are suitable for Ireland’s unique growing conditions.
Researching & preserving rare heirloom vegetable seeds & Irish heritage apple trees. Protecting Ireland's food crop heritage for future generations.
Irish Seed Savers Association maintains the country’s only public seed bank, with over 600 non-commercially available varieties of seed. They also house the national collection of Irish heritage apple trees in their orchards, with over 180+ unique varieties.
Throughout the year they run a wide range of workshops, host school tours, and invite the public to participate in their events. They encourage communities to come together to share seeds and plants, all with the aim of promoting Ireland’s biodiversity.
They locate rare varieties of vegetables, soft fruit, flowers, grains, potatoes and apple trees and then conduct research on them in our gardens. They then select varieties which are hardy and suitable for the local climate. This process takes time, patience and skills.
Key activities and objectives of the Irish Seed Savers Association include:
- Seed Saving: The organization collects and preserves a wide variety of traditional and heirloom seeds from Ireland and around the world. These seeds are cultivated and maintained to ensure their genetic diversity and long-term viability.
- Education: Irish Seed Savers Association is involved in educational initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of seed saving, biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. They offer workshops, courses, and resources to help individuals learn about seed saving and gardening.
- Seed Exchange: The organization operates a seed exchange program where members can exchange seeds, fostering a community of seed savers and promoting the cultivation of locally adapted, open-pollinated varieties.
- Orchard and Fruit Tree Conservation: In addition to seeds, the organization also focuses on preserving and propagating rare and heritage fruit tree varieties, particularly apple trees.
- Conservation Gardens: Irish Seed Savers Association maintains gardens and grounds that showcase a wide range of heirloom and native plants, allowing visitors to learn about and appreciate traditional Irish crops and biodiversity.
- Advocacy: The organization advocates for policies and practices that promote seed sovereignty, agricultural diversity, and sustainable food systems.
Irish Seed Savers Association's work aligns with global efforts to protect agricultural biodiversity and ensure that traditional seed varieties are not lost to industrial agriculture. Their activities contribute to preserving Ireland's rich agricultural heritage and supporting sustainable, locally adapted food production.
The Irish Seed Savers Association (ISSA) has had a significant impact on preserving seeds and promoting biodiversity in Ireland. Here are some of the key benefits and ways to support their important work:
Impact and Benefits:
- Preservation of Genetic Diversity: ISSA plays a crucial role in preserving and conserving Ireland's native and heritage seed varieties. By collecting, saving, and maintaining a diverse range of seeds, they help safeguard the genetic diversity of plants, which is essential for adapting to changing environmental conditions and ensuring food security.
- Cultural Heritage: The organization contributes to the preservation of Ireland's agricultural and cultural heritage. Many of the seeds they save have historical and cultural significance, reflecting traditional farming practices and regional diversity.
- Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture: ISSA promotes sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices. By advocating for open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds and organic farming methods, they encourage the use of sustainable agricultural practices that benefit both the environment and human health.
- Education and Empowerment: The organization provides valuable educational resources and training on seed saving and sustainable gardening practices. This empowers individuals and communities to take an active role in preserving seeds and promoting biodiversity in their own gardens and farms.
- Seed Sovereignty: ISSA advocates for seed sovereignty, emphasizing the importance of farmers and communities having control over their own seed resources. This helps counteract the concentration of seed production in the hands of a few large corporations.
How to Support Irish Seed Savers Association:
- Become a Member: Consider becoming a member of ISSA to support their ongoing work. Membership often comes with benefits such as access to their seed exchange program and educational resources.
- Purchase Seeds: Buy seeds from ISSA's seed catalog, which features a wide variety of heritage and open-pollinated seeds. By purchasing seeds from ISSA, you directly support their conservation efforts.
- Attend Workshops and Courses: Participate in ISSA's workshops and courses to learn more about seed saving, gardening, and sustainable agriculture practices.
- Volunteer: If you're in Ireland or planning to visit, inquire about volunteering opportunities at ISSA. Many hands-on activities can help with seed saving and maintaining their gardens and orchards.
- Donate: Consider making a donation to ISSA to support their conservation and educational programs. Donations help them continue their vital work.
- Spread Awareness: Share information about ISSA and their mission with friends, family, and your community. Increased awareness can lead to more support for their cause.
- Advocate: Support policies and initiatives that promote biodiversity, seed sovereignty, and sustainable agriculture at local, regional, and national levels.
By supporting the Irish Seed Savers Association, individuals and communities can contribute to the preservation of Ireland's seed heritage, promote biodiversity, and advance sustainable agricultural practices. Their work is not only essential for Ireland but also serves as an example of how local initiatives can have a global impact on food security and environmental sustainability.