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Case Studies

The Gaia Foundation

Category: Environment & Climate Change
Year Awarded: 2020
Amount: £150,000

Photo of seeds courtesy of Andy Pilsbury/Gaia Foundation. 

The Gaia Foundation has been working on issues of climate change, seed sovereignty and traditional knowledge for over 3 decades, both in the UK and overseas.  In 2017 Gaia started Phase 1 of the Seed Sovereignty Programme which has supported a diverse, resilient seed and grain system and makes the food system more adaptable to climate change. 

Seed diversity across the world is threatened but is crucial for ensuring a secure and sustainable food system. Plant genetic diversity provides genetic traits required to build resilience towards pests, diseases and changing climate conditions and allows for adaption to changes in the food system. 

Phase 1 of the programme focussed on building communities of market gardeners and farmers to train in seed productionThe Samworth Foundation supported the Gaia Foundation in Phase 2 of their Seed Sovereignty programme which built on the knowledge they had learned in Phase 1 whilst also expanding the team, introducing growing trials and continued learning opportunities, and holding space for networks to come together and connect. Phase 2 of the Seed Sovereignty Programme is due to end in December 2023 but to date the programme has supported 103 new commercial growers to produce 338 varieties of vegetable seed or grain and 349 community growers to produce 389 varieties. The team has trained 2,281 growers in seed saving and welcomed 5,325 attendees to seed related events they’ve organised.

The Seed Sovereignty Programme is sowing a biodiverse, ecologically sustainable and resilient seed system here in the UK and Ireland. Since 2020, the Samworth Foundation has joined us in this vital work. Samworth Foundation’s collaborative approach to funding has been an invaluable support over the past few years, ensuring that our work can have as far a reach and deep an impact as possible. We are grateful for this partnership as we work together to continue growing the seed sovereignty movement in the UK and Ireland