#225   Seeds of Hope: Cultivating a Future of Flavour and Resilience with Sinead Fortune and Kate Hastings of the Gaia Foundation

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In this nourishing episode of Accidental Gods, we delve into the fertile world of seed sovereignty with Katie Hastings and Sinead Fortune of the Gaia Foundation. Katie, hailing from the lush landscapes of Wales, and Sinead, rooted in the rugged beauty of rural Aberdeenshire, share their passion for reviving ancient grains and fostering communities of growth.

Embark on a journey through the tales of black oats, a crop once on the brink of oblivion, now experiencing a renaissance on the cliffs of Pembrokeshire. Discover how these oats, intertwined with the stories of generations, are being brought back into circulation by a vibrant network of farmers, engineers, and chefs, all dedicated to preserving the diversity of our seed heritage.

As we explore the practical steps and the profound joy of seed saving, we’re reminded that every seed sown is a vessel of potential, a beacon of hope in an ever-changing climate. Katie and Sinead illuminate the path towards a more resilient food system, where local, open-pollinated seeds adapt and thrive, offering unique flavors and a promise of sustainability.

This episode is a clarion call to reconnect with the origins of our sustenance, to embrace the community spirit inherent in the cycle of seed to harvest, and to participate in the movement towards a future where our choices at the dinner table also nurture the earth.

Whether you’re a seasoned grower, a curious gardener with a windowsill plot, or simply someone who cherishes the act of sharing a meal, this conversation is an invitation to join hands in shaping a world where the diversity of our plates reflects the diversity of our landscapes.

If you’re inspired to take root in this revolution, visit the show notes for links to local seed initiatives and resources that will guide you in becoming an integral part of this flourishing movement. Tune in and let the stories of seeds sow inspiration in your heart, as we cultivate a world abundant in flavour, joy, and resilience.

In Conversation

Manda: Hey people, welcome to Accidental Gods. To the podcast where we believe that another world is still possible and that if we all work together, there is time to create a future that we would be proud to leave to the generations that come after us. I’m Manda Scott, your guide and fellow traveller on this journey into possibility. And one of the areas we return to often in our quest for a more flourishing future is food; how we grow it, how we share it, how we choose what we eat, and what are the impacts of those choices on ourselves, our families, and the whole web of life. We are real advocates of what is now being called agroecological growing because the word regenerative has been hijacked by commercial interests already in the lifespan of this podcast. But out there in the real world, there are real people really engaging with the living soil and the ways that we grow things. And two of these are our guests today. Both work for the Gaia Foundation’s Seed Sovereignty program. Katie Hastings is the Wales coordinator and co-founder of Llafur Ni, which means ‘our cereals’ in Welsh. Sinead Fortune is program lead for the overall program in the UK and Ireland, and is also coordinator of the program work in Scotland, where she is based. Both of these remarkable women are bringing energy, commitment and deep thought into building communities of food, both nationally and internationally. To bringing ancient local species back from the brink of extinction and rediscovering or, as you’ll hear in some cases, building anew the small local technologies that will help to rebuild the communities of place that have been focussed on food for millennia. And only very recently has that connection been eroded.

Manda: Sinead and Katie are both masterful storytellers, bringing enthusiasm and the spark of hope to something that touches us all: we all eat. The upcoming film Six Inches of Soil has refurbished the old quote that despite all our technological achievements, we owe our existence to six inches of soil and the fact that it rains. But we can’t eat soil, so we owe our existence really to a huge, biodiverse range of seeds that we grow locally, that we plant and watch grow and harvest and save and plant again. And this, this annual miracle of growth is what keeps us flourishing. So let’s dive into the stories of seeds, why they matter, and how we can all be a part of the growing revolution. So people of the podcast, please welcome Sinead Fortune and Katie Hastings of the Gaia Foundation’s Seed Sovereignty program.

Manda: Sinead and Katie, welcome to the Accidental Gods podcast. I will come to each of you in turn to ask you how you are and where you are. Sinead first, where are you at the moment? 

Sinead: I’m based up in rural Aberdeenshire.

Manda: Magic. Home. And how is it up in Aberdeenshire? I’m guessing it’s probably a little bit wet and windy.

Sinead: It’s actually surprisingly sunny. The past few days it’s been quite brisk, but we’ve had beautiful sunshine, so I’m taking it.

Manda: There we go. Brisk in Scotland means 50 mile an hour wind usually. But you’ve got the sun. Because Katie and I are all wet. Katie, you’re in Wales and I gather it’s a bit damp, because we’re damp here.

Katie: Yeah. I’m in Machynlleth, on the wild west coast. So yeah, it’s raining, it’s wet. It’s luscious and beautiful. Yeah.

Manda: Because you have views of mountains out there and you must be near the centre for Alternative Technology also? 

Katie: I am. Yeah, I used to be a gardener there actually.

Manda: Fantastic. I keep meaning to contact them and get somebody on the podcast. We’ll do that one day. But in the meantime we are talking about seed sovereignty, Gaia Foundation, everything to do with the very obvious fact that was not obvious to me until we all spoke, which is 2 or 3 generations ago everybody knew how to save their seeds and they knew how to grow their seeds. And actually, most of us these days have lost that skill. Both skills. And both are utterly essential to the survival of the human race. Bill Gates ideas of techno utopianism notwithstanding, because we don’t believe those; we could go into why that’s a really bad idea at some point, but we’ve mentioned that once or twice in the podcast and we probably don’t need to do it too much. So again, from each of you, tell me a little bit about how you got to be the person that you are within the Gaia Foundation and a little bit about what you’re doing. We’ll start with Sinead.

Sinead: Great question. So my background is in behaviour change, community based behaviour change and food security. And that road led me down some interesting paths over the past few years. I was a community grower in Glasgow. I worked on a medicinal herb garden up in the north of Scotland. I worked on spreading information and love of UK native wildflower and fungi. And I’ve actually been a fan of Gaia for quite a long time and the seed sovereignty program and all of those things together somehow wound up leading to this role in Gaia and the seed sovereignty programme. I do a lot of the fundraising for the program, and I also have a background in fundraising. I coordinate the program itself, the kind of international collaborations and the national collaborations. And I also coordinate the Scottish network.

Manda: Wow. Okay. You don’t look old enough to have had all those jobs, I have to say. So I think you’ve got a very old picture in the attic or you’re very, very good at multitasking. We could come back to that. I’d love to talk to you more about all of that actually, particularly the Glasgow bit, just because I’m horribly parochial at heart. But one question before we go to Katie, which is a lot of these things seem to me to be happening under the national and the international radar. I think I’m quite switched on and most of the things you’ve just mentioned, I didn’t know they were happening. I didn’t even know about the Gaia Foundation until I read about the blackouts that we’ll come on to shortly, in I think Permaculture magazine. Is this something that in your experience, communities know a lot about and it just isn’t reaching the national press because the death cult isn’t making money out of it? Or is it something that even within communities, there are just a few people doing this and the general community is still relatively unaware?

Sinead: We talk a lot about communication and reaching our networks as a team and it’s definitely a tough nut to crack. I think it’s probably a mixture of that. We find that we are movement making at the moment. So things are picking up momentum and more and more people are hearing about us. And sometimes it does feel like a bit of a mystery how the word gets out. So we’ll come across a grower who’s never heard of the seed sovereignty program but is really keen on seeds, growing their own seeds, has been doing so for years. And then, you know, we’ll go to a growers meeting and someone will come up and say, I loved the the seed gathering last year. I was just tied to my screen and I was sorting my seeds. So it’s really interesting how the word gets out. And one of the things that is a challenge for the team, and an opportunity, is how to trace the ways of communication of networks. So we find actually at the moment a lot of growers are on WhatsApp and that’s how they communicate a lot.

Sinead: We tried Facebook groups for our networks, that was middling success. We tried Twitter, the various social media groups, email threads, things like that. So we’re quite flexible about how we communicate what we’re doing to make sure that the growers are finding out about it. But I definitely think there’s an element of movement making in what we’re doing and it is picking up momentum and more people are finding out about us. But it is surprising sometimes the people who are doing very like minded things and haven’t heard of us. So the word definitely needs to get out further. And things like being featured in the national press or being on the radio or podcasts like this are such a wonderful opportunity to reach audiences we haven’t previously. Because you do, with the best of intentions, sometimes get siloed in in your own networks, and feel like everybody knows what everyone else everyone else is doing, but often it’s not the case. So it’s always good to put your head above the parapet and make sure that people are hearing what’s going on.

Manda: Because it is so exciting. Well, thank you for putting your head up above this particular parapet. Again, lots of things to unpick, but I’ve taken notes and hopefully we’ll get back to them. So Katie, tell us a little bit about who you are out there near Machynlleth and previously working for CAT. But give us a little bit before that and then how you’re doing what you’re doing now.

Katie: So my journey into seed work actually started about 15 years ago with a mental breakdown. So I used to be heavily involved in kind of climate activism and be very worried about climate change and the future. And yeah, I basically had a mental breakdown because of that, because I was so stressed about the future. 

Manda: I’m so sorry.

Katie: Yeah, it was a really hard time. But the positive thing that came out of that was that I had an amazing doctor in Edinburgh who referred me for horticultural therapy, in a beautiful walled garden called Red Hall Walled Garden in Edinburgh. And I got taught how to grow food and this basically completely changed my life. It changed the trajectory of what I was doing and I found a lot of hope and positivity in food growing. So I then went on to be a market gardener for several years, and I moved to Mid Wales, and I set up a veg box scheme after working at the centre for Alternative Technology. And then my kind of journey into food production basically deepened and the more I grew food and the more I realised the importance of food growing, you know, that road obviously leads to seed eventually, because seed is the start of all of this food. And so I became like increasingly inspired by seeds, and realising how important seed sovereignty was. Then the Gaia Foundation started this UK and Ireland seed sovereignty program, and the job was advertised and I was like, wow, this is like my dream job! I’m going to apply for this, i probably won’t get it. I went to the interview and got the job at the beginning of the Seed Sovereignty program. So yeah, I felt so lucky to be doing this work and still feel really lucky to be doing this work, because this is something that I feel really passionately about. So to be able to do this as your job, to be able to work to build a seed sovereignty movement as your job, which is something that I would want to do anyway, you know. But now I’m able to spend all of my time doing it. So that was my journey into seed work.

Manda: Okay. And so we’ll stay with you while we’re here. Tell us what the seed sovereignty program is; how it arose, and start us on the track of what it’s doing. And we’ll come to Sinead in a bit.

Katie: So the seed sovereignty program is actually many things. We’re basically working to build a resilient seed system in the UK and Ireland. So we run trainings and we do movement building and networking and so many different things, which we can talk more about. Like storytelling around seeds, facilitating learning opportunities, but basically we’re working to build a more diverse and resilient seed system in the UK and Ireland.

Manda: Okay. That’s very succinct. Well done. You’ve done the elevator pitch. I’m very impressed. Alrighty. So let’s move to Sinead and ask a little bit about were you as Gaia before the Seed Sovereignty program arose? Can you tell us a little bit about how it arose as a thing, and then tell us a bit about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it?

Sinead: Sure. So actually, no, I wasn’t here from the beginning. Katie interviewed me when I applied for the job. I came in two years after the program started, but the inception of the program was actually in 2015. Our co-director, Rowan Fillmore, was attending an event with a fantastic organisation called Seed Change in Canada, and they were over just sharing the work that they’d been doing and was very inspired by the seed work that they’d done and the network that they’d built up in Canada and internationally. The Gaia Foundation itself has been running for almost 40 years and does an awful lot of work with sacred natural sites and indigenous rights and working with communities around the world. And in a lot of communities, seed is such a vital part of the community still, so inevitably Gaia did do seed work previously but as a part of a larger whole, not specifically focusing on seed. So in 2015, when when our director witnessed this organisation, she thought well what’s the story in the UK? You know, what’s the state of seeds? So we did a survey, we spoke to a lot of growers and small scale seed companies to get an idea of where things were here.

Sinead: And overwhelmingly obviously, growers are very aware of how important seed is and the decline in diversity of seed. But the majority of them didn’t grow their own seed and didn’t have the knowledge to to do so. So we realised that education and training was such a vital part of re-establishing a vibrant seed network in the UK and Ireland. So in 2017 the program started in earnest and hired its first coordinators like Katie. And it always took a regional approach to its work, because obviously it’s vital that the team that we have are based in the community of growers that they’re supporting. That’s why we all work remotely. We did it well before the pandemic, and we’re based in the networks that we’re supporting. We’re all growers ourselves. So that was always a really key part of the program to make sure that we were able to reach the communities directly and the growers. And we decided to focus on two main audiences with our trainings, with our events, to start with.

Sinead: And that was small scale commercial growers, so generally market gardeners, agroecological growers and community groups growing for their community. And the reason why we focussed on those two groups primarily with our training and events, was because we want more open pollinated seed to be available in the UK and Ireland, and we saw that as a more direct avenue for that. So the training is the backbone of what we do, it still is. And over six years on, we’ve trained literally thousands of growers now in seed production at various levels. Yeah, really exciting. When you think about all the seeds that those growers are producing, it’s a lot of seed, it’s a lot more seed getting into our networks. So we’re definitely down the line of achieving more open pollinated seed being produced. As Katie mentioned, we’re also doing a host of other things and reaching a wider audience in those. Celebration is a huge part of what we do. It’s very, very natural to come together at the end of the growing season, for example, and share produce and share seeds and share stories and…

Manda: Light a fire and have a party.

Sinead: Yes, absolutely. It’s a very human thing. And what we’ve realised over the past few years is that when we bring people together, the magic happens naturally, organically.

Manda: Ritual builds relationship.

Sinead: Absolutely. And it’s those relationships that are the key for the networks that we’re building, for the movement that we’re a part of and for the joy of what we do. Because, you know, Katie mentioned the anxiety around climate change and climate collapse and it’s a very real thing that many of us feel. And I think the antidote to that, or at least the way of surviving that is to bring in the joy and the hope as much as possible. So bringing people together and celebrating and eating pizza made from locally produced grain, that’s a diverse population and eating biscuits and drinking tea and plotting together, is such a vital part of what we do and what growers do. So, yeah, the celebration is really key to what we do. And then the storytelling. So again, storytelling is very intrinsic to who we are as humans and what we are as a species. It’s how we naturally communicate and so we find that storytelling, connecting the people behind the scenes that we work with, is really powerful for connecting to a wider audience. So people who are maybe home growers or maybe aren’t even involved in growing at all, but are hearing a lot of really bad stories on the news about how many harvests we have left and how difficult it’s becoming to grow our crops, and just feel completely alienated and completely disempowered. Then to hear a story of a generational farmer or a seed that’s been brought back from the brink, or a community that’s safeguarding particular varieties. And the hope and joy in that, I think, is empowering and it’s very viable and powerful for people to hear and feel a part of.

Manda: That’s beautiful. Thank you. I want to come back and talk about open pollinated seeds and why we need them later. I’ve made myself a note, but remind me. But in the meantime, Katie, storytelling is who we are. We are a storeyed species. Every single thing we do arises out of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, to ourselves and each other, and about the world that we live in. And how I found you was the story of the black oats, which was just so inspiring. Exactly as Sinead said, it made me cry. It was just, God, this is happening, somebody got it and they’re making it happen. So could you tell us the story of the Black Oats?

Katie: Yeah, well it’s such a romantic and inspiring story. I came into this work as a vegetable grower and I’d never grown oats before, and I didn’t really know anything about oats. And I met this amazing farmer called Gerald Miles, who many of you probably know. He’s an absolute gem. He’s in his 70s and lives on the Clifftops of Pembrokeshire, overlooking Abereiddy. He was born on the farm and he’s still farming there in his 70s. He’s full of energy and he just really cares about farming and about the earth and our future. And he was basically searching for a black oat which his grandfather had been growing on the farm and which he’d lost in a storm. And he knew that in the past, his grandfather had grown this black oat. His great grandfather had grown it, and many people around them had grown it. So he thought, right, well, I’ll search for it and I’ll get it back, and I’ll grow it on my farm, because this is a traditional crop that used to be grown here. Then what he realised is he just couldn’t find this black oat anywhere. So he advertised in the Farmer’s Weekly, he started speaking to farming gatherings and putting the word out, and he was like, nobody has this black oat, where has it gone? And it led him to realise that people had stopped growing these oats that we used to grow in Wales in the past.

Katie: He literally couldn’t find any seed, so he embarked on this kind of quest to find the black oat, and obviously that is a really enticing and inspiring story. But it got more interesting through Welsh folk musician Owen Shiers, who was going around searching for Welsh folk songs, and met an older farmer called Iwan Evans. And Iwan, you know, he’s not on the internet; he hadn’t seen any of Gerald’s call outs. He was only an hour away from Gerald’s farm on the Pembrokeshire coast, in Llandysul, inland but only about an hour away and he didn’t know that Gerald or anybody was searching for this black oat. And he was growing it! So he was one of the last farmers left still growing this. It’s actually called Ceirch Du in Welsh. So this Ceirch Du oat, he didn’t even think it was anything that special, it was just something that he was still growing that had been grown on his farm for generations. And when we connected with him and when Gerald finally met him, Iwan started to realise the importance of this oat. Like, wow, I’m the last farmer that you can find still growing this black oat. It’s a beautiful story because it’s about two older farmers connecting with one another, which led to this whole network of growers that we kind of formed together, Gerald and Iwan and Owen and I, to revive this black oat and to grow it together and grow it on multiple farms and to be able to share the seeds.

Katie: So it’s an intergenerational story as well, because it’s about getting the younger people involved in taking these seeds and growing them and ensuring that they don’t disappear. And it was such an inspiring thing to be part of, and it wasn’t something I ever thought I would be. It just happened, you know, this story unfolded and I was part of it and it’s captured a lot of people’s imagination. It’s one story about one seed and there’s many stories about many seeds, but this story kind of encapsulates. 

Manda: It’s iconic isn’t it.

Katie: It’s iconic yeah. And it encapsulates, I guess, where we are. The point we’re at, where seeds are literally on the brink of extinction, but we still have a chance to find them and save them. And in this moment in time, you can find the last person growing a certain variety, and you can bring it back from the brink by working together with people. I guess the story encapsulates that now is the time to do this.

Manda: And it wasn’t just the seed as I understood it, reading the article. You had to find the people who could mill it, and then people who knew how to do something with it that wasn’t just feeding it to the chickens. And you made bread, and you had this beautiful picture of all these old guys and a few young people around a table eating the first bannocks, I guess they were, that were made with the black oats. Were you there? And can you tell us what it tasted like. Tell us why it was different to ordinary oats.

Katie: So that was a whole other can of worms that I didn’t know we were going to open, because we’re actually growing quite a lot of rare Welsh oats collectively. It’s not just the Ceirch Du. We also took some other oats out of the gene banks and our group’s growing 14 kinds of rare Welsh oats that are not really grown anymore and used to be grown in the past. So we started growing these oats because we were wanting to boost seed diversity and were concerned about seed diversity and preserving seed diversity. So we started growing these oats together. But I had no idea that we weren’t going to be able to easily eat them. I just thought, we’ll grow the oats, we’ll send them to the mill, we’ll get some flour back and we’ll eat them. And I discovered it was not that simple, because oats have hulls on them. They need to be dehulled and then the hulls need to be separated, and then they need to be stabilised. I had no idea that all of this needed to happen, and that there are no oat mills left in Wales. So in the past there were mills in Wales that would have been able to kiln dry and process these oats. These mills don’t exist anymore. So we then started looking into, well, how are we going to eat these oats? And we discovered there are large commercial oat mills in the UK, there’s one in England and there’s one in Scotland. But you need a minimum 40 tons to be able to send them to these processing plants.

Manda: And there’s only one in each country. That’s it?

Katie: Yeah. And we’re working with rare oats, so we don’t have 40 tons. We have small quantities because they’re rare, so we can’t send them to these processing plants. So then we embarked on this whole journey of trying to discover, well, how could we process these on a small scale? And actually, in the end, we at the Seed Sovereignty program, we connected with a crofter and engineer and baker in Scotland called Adam Vetch, and he actually had to design us a tiny oat de huller. The plans are open source so other people can build one as well. So we could, on a small scale, dehull these oats using this machine that he literally designed for us, and then we could cook with them immediately because we weren’t able to stabilise them. So all of this whole journey of learning to process them and having this machine, this tiny oat collider built for us, meant that we could have this momentous feast on Gerald’s farm. And we got this amazing chef called Jacqueline Morgan, she’s a Welsh chef that specialises in heritage cuisine, and she’s young and she’s vibrant and she’s an amazing cook. And so she took these black oats that we’d had dehulled in this special tiny oat collider and she made this amazing feast for us.

Katie: We had bread made from the black oats. But we also had lava bread and black oat dumplings and we had black oat and acorn tart. It was phenomenal. And the theme was peasant food. So it was Welsh peasant food. But crucially, we ate these oats in Gerald’s barn on the cliff tops, you know, overlooking the sea in Pembrokeshire, which is where he was growing these black oats and where his grandfather was growing them. And this was the first time that Gerald and Iwan had ever tasted them. So although they had been growing them in their life and Iwan had been growing them his whole life, and Gerald’s father and grandfather had been growing them, they’d never tasted them because these were something that were fed to animals. We know that people ate oats in the past but Gerald and Iwan were unable to process them, so they were just feeding them to animals. So this was the first time that they tasted these black oats and it was so, so special. And what was amazing, you asked me about the taste, is I was kind of worried. I was like, imagine if they don’t actually taste very good, you know, after all of this, years of work…

Manda: Yeah, we feed them to the horses because basically they taste like cardboard. 

Katie: Yeah imagine if they actually don’t taste good. So we did a blind taste test. Jacqueline made simple crackers and we compared a commercial white oat with a few other varieties and the black oats, and thank goodness they tasted delicious. And what was amazing is they also tasted significantly different to the other oats. So this made me realise, you know, putting into practice the theory that diversity of seeds creates diversity of flavours, well, this really proved it. Because these different varieties of oats, they taste significantly different. So when we did this taste test we were like, wow the flavour differences are phenomenal. People were coming up with words like they taste like hay and they taste like the earth, and this was before they knew they were tasting the black oat, you know, they didn’t know which oat they were tasting. 

Manda: So cool. So if we want these to be an integral part of our culture and our lives and potentially our surviving as we need the seed diversity, how is it moving forward? How is it going to reach a critical mass where I guess it has to be commercial? Does it have to be commercial? That would be a question. How are you taking it forward?

Sinead: So definitely what we found previously and what we’re finding at the moment is that equipment seems to be a bit of a bottleneck. And it’s interesting that, you know, the work that Katie’s been doing with Llafur Ni network in Wales is mirrored in some of our other networks as well; that you have these growers working with amazing seeds, amazing varieties, be they grain or veg seed, but generally the grain side, obviously the volume is larger. And when they reach a certain point they’re not able to process the grain because it needs equipment that doesn’t exist anymore. So, crucially, this this equipment did exist; equipment rings and communal ownership of equipment is nothing new. It’s something that was done for quite a long time. And with the industrialisation of agriculture and the commodification of our food chain, we’ve moved away from that. In order to reclaim the system and to work on this more human or community scale, what we’re finding is we need to go back to that, and we need to find ways of communal ownership, working with this equipment together. And it’s by no means a straightforward path,either. Because where does the money come from? How do they raise the funds? Who holds the equipment? Whose name is the insurance under, who fixes it when it breaks? What if everybody needs to use it at the same time? These are all challenges that we need to work out together.

Sinead: And as I understand it, that’s something that Llafur Ni network is doing at the moment and I’ll let Katie speak to that further. But it’s definitely something that’s echoed across our networks. So there is this crucial moment of equipment that’s too expensive for people to buy themselves as a sole person and the obvious conclusion is that they join up with other farmers in their community and share it. But it doesn’t come without its challenges, so it’s working all of that out together and trying to accompany these groups that are forming quite naturally on that journey, to see how we can help. So, for example, the tiny oat collider that Adam built, that was one way we were able to support that particular group and then make the designs available to anyone who’s coming up with a similar scale challenge. But there’s an awful lot of equipment gaps in our chain to go back to that smaller scale, more human scale food system.

Manda: Yes. Can we stay with Sinead just for a bit, because you’re up in Scotland. And I remember in my own childhood stories, oats were the staple, and they would make a whole batch of boiling them up and pour it into a drawer, and it would set, and then the guys would cut a chunk off to take with them into the fields. And that was their main staple food. And it clearly isn’t anymore, but it sounds like there would be scope for Scottish oats that must be quite similar to the black oats, but presumably have slightly different names, slightly different flavours, adapted to slightly different soil types. Is this happening again in Scotland?

Sinead: Yeah, the porridge drawer. I love the porridge drawer. Fantastic. It is, absolutely, there is a grain network in Scotland, understandably formed generally of crofters and small scale growers, across the Highlands and Islands and into Aberdeenshire and down the east coast as well. Oats was a huge part of the Scottish diet, as it was the Welsh and the Irish diet as well and I’m assuming the English. And, you know, it’s very rare to find oats growing in Scotland now, but there are people very interested in bringing it back, for nutrition, for soil diversity, for resilience. Notably, there’s a fantastic community farm outside of Edinburgh called Lauriston Farm and they’re hoping to bring back some rarer varieties of Scottish oats in the next few years. And when you talk about oats, the mind goes to the wonderful bere barley in Scotland also, which is a staple in Orkney still, it never really left it. But that’s becoming increasingly popular for small scale growers to work with as well. Similarly, the equipment challenges and that yearning to collectivise on a community scale is the same. So the engineer Crofter Baker who Katie was working with, is based up in the Highlands of Scotland, and he works quite regularly with the Scottish Grain Network as well. In fact, when he was building out the prototypes, one went to Wales and one stayed in Scotland so that those in the grain network producing oats on a small scale can use it here. 

Sinead: So it’s very, very similar challenges, similar conversations going on, which is very exciting because it means that our networks can speak to each other. In fact, we had an online event during lockdown called Uncommon Grains and it was our Welsh network and our Scottish network. And it featured the bere barley and it featured the black oats, and it was just a bit of a celebration. There was training involved, people sharing their stories. Adam went through the work that he’d been doing on the oat de-huller to that point, that was a few years ago. And it was a kind of a cross-pollination, if you will, of the two networks, which of course finished with a ceilidh at the end, which seems impossible now that we’re out of lockdown but actually it worked online in that context.

Manda: An online ceilidh! I want to see the videos!

Sinead: People really enjoyed that connection, because at the time, you know, we weren’t able to meet in person. So yeah, communicating across our networks and sharing best practices and what’s working and what’s not is really important, because it means the whole network can develop much quicker. We’re kind of trialling different things all over the place.

Manda: Yes. So I think we’ll come back to Katie next, but I have questions. I want you to tell us about Llafur Ni, what it is and how it’s set up and what it means in English. The questions that are arising in my head are: we’re not just talking about how we process the grain once we’ve harvested it. Are people moving back to horse drawn harvesting? Are we moving back towards much smaller scale fields? What kind of field size is on this? But also, perhaps you can address this with Llafur Ni; when we were talking to Josiah, he was with the lady who had the mill and the person who was growing his YQ wheat, which is in Shropshire, and they were explaining all the wonders of it. And someone in the audience who is an organic farmer around here put his hand up and said, I’d really like to be doing this. And every single person on the panel went, no, don’t. We don’t have the market yet for all of this. If you grow it, we will not be able to sell it. We need to find the bakers who want to bake with wheat where every batch is slightly different, because modern wheats are designed to all be completely, horribly monochrome and uniform. But it means that industrial bakers know what they’re working with. And are you seeing the same things? And if someone with ten acres goes, okay, I want to grow oats, is it a good thing to start doing that now, or are you facing the same bottlenecks down the line of making it commercial? Over to Katie. Tell us about Llafur Ni. Tell us about what you’re doing.

Katie: So Llafur Ni is an informal network of mostly growers and farmers, small scale, based in Wales, who are working together to revive these rare oats. We’ve been gifted seed from the Ibers Plant breeding station at Aberystwyth University, of 14 rare varieties, and we’re growing them on multiple farms, and we’re working together to learn more about these seeds and to increase their quantities and to share them with one another. Basically, we’re on the very first step of this massive journey of hoping to be able to revive some of these oats and bring them back to the Welsh fields. But yeah, I mean, what you said is totally true. When we’re reviving seed, seed is the very first step in this massive long journey. You have to start with the seed, with actually getting the seed and multiplying it and sharing it and ensuring that it doesn’t become extinct. Then you have to learn about it, and understand which conditions it grows best in and whose soils it grows best in, and how it might adapt over time. But then there’s all these other steps to work out; the machinery needed to process these seeds and grains and then to be able to eat them, there’s even more machinery involved.

Katie: And how do we get to the point where we can eat them? And that’s obviously what I described with Llafur Ni when we were able to eat the black oats for the very first time. But that was tiny scale. Yet in terms of like being able to scale up, we’re very much in the very first steps of what is a massive long journey, because if we want to revive this kind of diverse seed system across the UK and Ireland, we need to have the seeds, but we also need to have the mills and the processing kit to be able to deal with these seeds, to be able to get them onto people’s plates. And then we need to have the chefs that want to use them; the cooks and the bakers. Then we also need to have the people who care about eating all of these diverse seeds. So it’s actually this momentous task. It’s exciting, but it is a momentous task. You were asking me about scale; I don’t think that seed diversity should be something that’s relegated to small scale farms and small holdings, but that’s where we have to start. Because we’re working with rare seeds that we don’t have very much quantity of, so we start on a very small scale, and we start with the farmers who really care about small scale seed diversity.

Katie: But eventually this can scale up. But there’s a long journey ahead of us of being able to get everything in place for this, to be able to scale up. And with Llafur Ni, yeah, we absolutely hope in the future, we have this vision in the future, that farms across Wales will be growing diverse oats again. So you’ll have one oat grown in Anglesey, you’ll have a different oat grown in mid Wales. They’ll all be suited to those regional conditions and suited to the farms that they’re grown on. And they’ll all have different flavours. And there will be the mills that will be able to process them and then there will be all the bakers and chefs and cooks that want to use them. That’s the vision for the future, but yeah, we’ve still got a long way to go to actually realise that.

Manda: A question for you before we come back to Sinead. The people who want to eat them; we know now that maximising plant diversity in our diets is one way to heal our gut microbiome. And I’m also guessing that if you come from Wales and all of your ancestors for the last 300 generations came from Wales, you’re probably quite adapted to eating black oats and the other local oat varieties. And I know from the horses, when I send off a faecal sample for a horse gut microbiome response, so I can see what they’re doing, it goes to Aberystwyth. Is there anybody that you know of doing any work on the human gut microbiome, and whether it changes as a result of eating locally grown grains? Is that an avenue anyone’s exploring? And if not, please, can I do it? No, I haven’t got time. Please, can we find someone to do it?

Katie: I would love to know more about that. I feel like I don’t know enough about the science or the research, but I do know intuitively it feels right to eat these foods that grow well in our soils. And that’s something that the older farmers I work with say, they say if it grows well in our soils, it’s good for us, it’s good for us to eat. That’s anecdotal and intuitive, but I do believe that. And that was the whole point of having this oat feast on the farm where the oats were grown; if the seeds come from those soils and we eat them and we live in that region and we live with those soils, that just feels like it’s good for us. It’s that real kind of local connection. And also talking about microbiome, there’s a lot of new research, I’m not a scientist, but about the seed microbiome and how that interacts with the soil microbiome. That a lot of the microbiome from the soil is actually passed from the seed. So when you grow the same seed in your land year on year and it becomes adapted to your climate, the microbiome of the soil is also passed on the coating of the seed. So it’s this whole exciting world that we don’t yet know enough about. But yeah, I feel like intuitively we do know this; if you grow seed in the same place year on year, it’s healthier and it’s better for us and it grows better. And part of that is probably to do with the fact that the seed is passing on the microbiome from the soil in the seed itself. 

Manda: And we don’t know enough about that. I learned a while ago that with industrial farming and these are American figures obviously, but a metre cubed of soil is sterilised for every bushel of wheat produced. They’ve just killed it. You killed it with all of the inputs that industrial agriculture requires and then there is no microbiome. And then we’re eating the product of that and it’s not surprising that, you know, Robert Lustig says 93% of Americans have metabolic disease. Their mitochondria just don’t function because their gut microbiome is not functioning, their body is not functioning. The fact that we are zombies able to keep kind of walking and breathing and consuming and spending money and paying out to the death cult doesn’t mean that we’re healthy. And what you guys are doing is bringing us back to the land and to our evolutionary roots, so that we can step forward into being actual living human beings. Sorry. Rant. But I’d like to come back to Sinead with that rant, because we talked at the beginning about the need for open pollinated seed. You mentioned in passing, or at least tangentially, the need for growing the local seed to the local area.

Manda: And I’d like to talk more about that. And it’s triggering for me bits about the entire difference between local community seed and food and the industrial process. I read something by Rob Percival last week where he was talking to a group who were discussing the dangers of ultra processed food, and he was saying, look, if you have a fever, you’re likely to sweat. But just wiping the sweat off isn’t helping your fever. And that ultra processed food is the sweat of the industrial food and farming system. It’s a disaster and it’s horrible, but we need to get to the heart of why the system is not working, rather than just addressing the fact that ultra processed food is killing people and causing a pandemic of diabetes. So could we explore probably the politics and the underlying ideas and ideals behind the seed sovereignty through the avenue of why we want open pollinated seed. Does that make sense as a question, Sinead?

Sinead: I’ll do my best. So yeah, when we mention our goals for the seed network in the UK and Ireland, we usually talk through the lens of open pollinated seed versus hybrid seed. So an open pollinated seed is basically a seed that breeds true to type. If you grow out a plant that has been grown from an open pollinated seed, it means that you can save seed from that plant and you can grow it the next season. Um, you can’t do that with a hybrid seed. So if you go and get a packet of hybrid seeds or F1 seeds from the shop, it will do exactly what it says on the tin for one growing season and one growing season only, and you can’t save seed from that plant. It might produce seed, but you’ll get all sorts of genes being expressed through the progeny and it just won’t be viable for the crop you’re looking for. So if you’re growing an open pollinated variety of broccoli, you’ll get what you’re expecting the next year. However, crucially, there will be slight genetic variation year on year with that open pollinated seed. And what that means is it allows you to season on season, adapt that seed to your growing conditions. So if Katie and I were growing the same variety in our two locations over the seasons and saving seed with the the appropriate population size and all that kind of thing. Selecting for the best qualities of the plants that did best in our regions.

Sinead: In several years, we’d have different quite different crops that were doing the best for us. And they might not necessarily do the best for each other because they’re adapting to the local growing conditions. And so that’s why things like local seed are so important, because the more people who are growing healthy, good quality seed in their areas, the better the crops are going to do. The better adaptability is in our crops and also the more genetic diversity that we’ve got there. An awful lot of our seed is still imported, and most of our seed is grown in places like the south of France, in the north of Africa, where it’s great for growing seed, but it’s not great for our growing conditions. So, you know, a leek seed that’s been grown in the south of France is not going to be very happy when I try and grow it in the north of Aberdeenshire. So having local seed companies who are growing seeds that are appropriate to our climate is very important. I mentioned their genetic diversity and that might be something we want to explore a little bit more, but in terms of making sure that there is that diversity in the gene stock, in the genetics of a seed, but also in the varieties that we’re growing. That’s crucial for our resilience in terms of the seed. So we’ve lost 75% of our plant genetic diversity since 1900.

Manda: In the UK or globally?

Sinead: Globally. And what that means is that where we used to have, say, 550 varieties of cabbage, we might have ten when you go to a seed catalogue to select your seed. And that is directly as a result of the industrialised food system, because they’re selecting for crops that sit well on the shelf, that store well, that are uniform in size, that can be harvested at the same time by the equipment that’s used to harvest them. And increasingly, that’s what was profitable for seed breeders and plant breeders and that’s what they focussed on. And what we lost is the diversity of our seed stocks. So in that 540 varieties of cabbage that are no longer available, there would have been cabbages that are particularly resistant to drought or flooding or high winds or particular pests, or maybe ones that were more nutritious or tasted excellent or had various nutritional qualities that are no longer there, because we’re concentrating on the crops that sit well on the shelf and store well and ship well. And that diversity that we’ve lost, that’s the key to resilience, because as the climate conditions and growing conditions are increasingly more unpredictable, you’re going to want to have that diversity of crops. So that you’re hedging your bets essentially each season, because we’re not really sure what the growing conditions are going to be like. So if you’re growing several different varieties, one will do better one year, another might do better another year. So it’s really important. It’s not just about pretty cabbages. It’s really important that we have that diversity in our food stock because that’s where the resilience lies.

Sinead: In terms of  where this lies us in terms of the food system, and what we’re hoping to address through the training, through the participatory plant breeding opportunities and also through the wider storytelling, the connection, is reconnecting people with the seed. We believe that a food revolution starts with seed; you can’t have your food without the seed. So everything that we want to be true of a vibrant, fair, equitable, thriving food system has to be true of our seed system as well. And that connection or the disconnect that we’re experiencing at the moment, people being disconnected from their food; you mentioned the increasing health issues that people are having with the ultra processed foods and the industrial food system, and kind of eliminating that being just the first step. Really, I think the deeper issue of the problem is that people are completely disconnected and disempowered from how their food is grown, where their food is grown, who grows it, and what they can do. Food prices go up, the supermarkets are the ones in control of that, and people feel like there is nothing they can do about it. And there just feels like this very big gap between them and who grows their food and the more that we can close that gap, the more that we can bring people along the journey, make them feel connected and that they have choice, they have something to do and they are very important in this journey. Because we need everyone on board. You know, this is an everyone kind of issue.

Manda: Yeah. Everybody eats.

Sinead: Absolutely. Everyone eats and everyone makes choices in how they eat. People are in various different socioeconomic situations. People are living in urban and rural situations, not everyone has access to land, but everyone does have a choice. And I think that part of the narrative is often missed out. The ways in which people can get involved and learn and feel connected and feel part of something is often the bit that’s missed out. And I think that’s the part we need to concentrate on, because being made to feel like you have no say and you just have to go to the supermarket and get whatever has been offered to you, it’s not a powerful place to be. And again, harkening back to the beginning, mentioning about the storytelling and focusing on the joy and hope; we desperately need to focus on what we can do, because our energy is so vital right now. We have a lot to do, and it can feel completely overwhelming. But if you focus on what you can do and the joyful bits and the hopeful bits, that energy is more sustained than if you focus on all of the things that you’re disconnected from and you don’t have power over. Again, it’s very important to make sure that narrative shines through, that people do have a part to play, a very vital one.

Manda: So I want to come to Katie in a moment and talk about how we can get seeds and what we can do, but I just want to drill into that a little bit. Because one of the narratives that the Ecomodernists seem to be pushing, is that eating organic, eating regenerative food, eating locally grown food is a playground of the middle classes because people who are really in food poverty have to eat the cheap food, and part of the industrial food system is that it makes sure that things that it has told us are staples, that are probably highly toxic, but leaving that aside. You know, your white bread, sugar filled empty carbs, are incredibly cheap and that to eat well is actually much more expensive. And that this is an excuse, then, for creating vats of ultra processed or precision fermented proteins and feeding them to everybody because it’s affordable. How are you finding that the local communities, which must have diversities of income and capacity and and time, all the things that we’re poor in, how are they responding to the invitation to engage much more deeply with food and to find much more joy with food?

Sinead: In a word: well. They’re responding well. It’s not by any means a straight journey, but the role that community gardens and community food growing plays in this cannot be understated. There are many people who do not have access to land. They possibly will never have access to land. They do not have the socioeconomic situation to go into the shop and buy the highest quality produce. And there’s also a comfort and a culture factor that can’t be understated in terms of food as well. So what we need to be very careful of is that there’s no kind of guilt or shame attached with going and buying food that’s not particularly good for us. There’s a number of reasons why people do so, and often time and budget and comfort is part of.

Manda: And advertising.

Sinead: And advertising. However, the antidote to that is the community growing space. And there are incredible community growing spaces in every city, up and down the country, up and down the UK. And the work they do is fantastic, because it’s never just growing food. It’s rebuilding community. It’s re-empowering people, it’s training people, it’s reconnecting people and food becomes communal again. People put in the work together and then they share in the bounty. And it harkens back to those old ways of working together that we’ve all but forgotten. I genuinely think there’s something very powerful about that, you know, celebrating the seasons, growing together, that communal way of working that does feel very natural to us. We’ve been told it’s the tragedy of the Commons, we’ve been told that community is dead and it’s just not true. I think the more that we rail against that and look at these community groups, look at what they’re doing, the more that we take back that power a bit. But yeah, community growing spaces in urban spaces are vital. And on the seed side of things, there are fantastic seed groups in urban spaces as well. London Freedom Seed Bank is an incredible organisation. We’ve got the Glasgow Seed Library. You name it, in every city there will be fantastic seed initiatives as well, and they work directly with the community growing spaces. And often they’ll have members of the seed library or the seed group growing on windowsills or on balconies or wherever the heck they can, because they get so much joy from it. And again, coming together to process the seed, to plan the seed for the next season; all of that is very life giving work, and it’s really important.

Manda: Super. Thank you. Yes, I was going to ask about the scale that people could do this at. So let’s come to Katie. And as we’re heading towards a close, let’s explore what people listening can do, where they could buy seed. Because I know we talked about Real Seeds and Vital Seeds and places that encourage seed saving and then have multiple different varieties. You probably have others that you can tell us about in the UK, and if you know of any internationally as well, and then how can people get best involved? And we’ll put links in the show notes. Anything that you mention we will have links to. Over to Katie.

Katie: So picking up the thread that Sinead was just talking about, community and how seed brings people together. Yeah, absolutely get involved in your local community garden, learn how to grow food, learn where your seed comes from, learn how to grow seed and save seed, and really connect yourself with your food and where it comes from, even if that is just on a balcony or in a pot or wherever you can get access to. If you’re growing food, then really think about where that seed comes from. And yes, there are lots of small seed companies in the UK, and it’s a growing movement actually, of small agroecological seed companies that sell open pollinated seed that is suited to the UK and Ireland conditions. So yeah: Real seeds, Vital seeds, The Seed Cooperatives, Seeds of Scotland. I also work to facilitate and support a really exciting seed cooperative called the Wales Seed Hub. So this is something that’s come out of the seed sovereignty program. Growers we’ve been working with who have been through our training in how to produce seed, have now got together to form a cooperative of seed sellers in Wales. So this seed has grown on multiple different farms and smallholdings, agro ecologically, but they work together to sell it. So you can buy seed from the Wales Seed Hub online. And that’s seed that’s all grown in Wales and all adapted to Welsh growing conditions. And as the seed sovereignty programme, we’re supporting other new emerging seed hubs in other regions of the UK. So there’s this idea that small holders and small scale farmers can be producing seed on their farms and they can actually sell that within the UK. And we can have these regional seed hubs all over the UK and Ireland where people can buy really good quality, open pollinated seed.

Manda: What’s the politics? Or at least the legalities of that? Because I know that we have a local seed swap, but we have to swap it. We’re not allowed to sell it to each other. Can you tell us a little bit in the UK and possibly elsewhere about about the mechanics of that?

Katie: Yeah. So there is seed legislation in the UK which can be seen as in many ways prohibitive and not totally supportive of having a diverse seed system, because there are hoops that you have to jump through. There is a national list of vegetable varieties and grain varieties, and you have to have your variety listed on this national list, and it has to be proven to be distinct, uniform and stable. So there are some legalities around seed selling that can be seen as prohibitive, but what I want to say is if you’re a vegetable seed grower, there’s ways around that. So with the Wales Seed hub, we sell small packets of vegetable seed, and we do that legally by registering ourselves as a seed seller. And then we use this amateur variety listing where you can list a variety as an amateur variety if you’re selling it in small packets. And that costs a lot less money than the larger distinct uniform and stable registration and it requires a lot less paperwork. It’s a lot more accessible. So there are ways around the seed legislation. In the Wales seed hub, we’re able to sell seed legally. We give that seed plant passports. We have records which show the batch numbers and all the passport numbers. It’s mostly about traceability and accountability. And we get a seed inspection once a year, and we show that we’ve got all the correct records for our seeds. It’s extra work, but it’s totally manageable, so we are able to sell seed on a small scale in the UK legally. And if you want to check out the Seed Sovereignty Program website, we have more information about how people can do that. So don’t feel like the seed legislation will absolutely stop you from sharing and selling seed, because there are ways you can work with the legislation.

Manda: Super. And it’s never going to stop you sharing it, as far as I can tell. It just might stop you being a smallholder and making a living doing it. But if there are people who, as you’re saying, go to seed sovereignty and and find ways to connect with people who will support that. Because it seems to me that we are in the middle of climate breakdown; we have absolutely no idea which way the climate is going to go. The Gulf Stream might switch off, or we may end up with massive droughts, or possibly both. And we’re going to need seeds that are adapted to here, and that can grow in a really wide range of climatic conditions and on different soil types. So from both of you; we need to stop soon, we’ve hit our hour; this has been so interesting and we could go on forever, but is there anything each of you would like to say to people listening? Tell us a story or give us a little bit of inspiration of what can we do to become involved. I’ll go to Sinead first and then Katie.

Sinead: I suppose, as a parting glass, I would say get involved in any way you can. As Katie said, if you have a growing space, learn how to grow. If you don’t have a growing space, get involved with a community group. Reconnect in the ways that you can around you. Where our food comes from and where our seed comes from and and how everyone involved in that process has been treated is important, and how the land has been treated is important and the ecosystem. And to build, to work towards a society that is fairer and more equitable and to start to rebuild the communal ties that will see us through all of these changes that are coming up. We need to concentrate on those connections and rebuild them and foster them and care for them. And food is such an important part of that. Behaviour change doesn’t have to be painful, it can be joyful. We have a lot of changes coming up, we all have to make changes, everyone has to be on board, but it doesn’t have to be a slog. It can be something celebratory. Just because we’re losing things that weren’t actually all that important to us in some cases; you know, travel; just because we’re potentially having to give up some of our choice, some of the things that we’ve become accustomed to, doesn’t mean that it has to be a grieving process because we replace that.

Manda: No, there are good things that we could do that would be much more joyful than absolutely a lot of the stuff that we end up with. Buyer’s remorse the moment after we’ve done whatever it was.

Sinead: Yeah, that kind of false choice. As soon as you get the box through your door, you go yeah, I suppose I’d better unpack it now. Yes. Didn’t even need it in the first place. So replacing that with things that actually, on a deeper level, really connect with us. So connecting with friends, family, community, learning how to grow our own food. There is nothing more joyful than sowing a seed and seeing that first glint of green. And any of your listeners who’ve ever sown a seed will know what I’m talking about, because it’s just hope incarnate. And the more hope that we can have at the moment better. So yeah, get involved in any way you can. If you are a grower, think about where your seed is coming from and and get involved in the movement, empower yourself with the learning opportunities that are available.

Manda: And the heart connections. This is beginning to feel very much like Simon Michaux’s vision of growing and living and connecting locally, but sharing the ideas online internationally. And you said that you were inspired by someone who came over from Canada and said ‘look what we’re doing in Canada!’ and I think oh gosh, we could do this in the UK. We could do this everywhere around the world, and there are going to be places where I hope the seed isn’t quite so near the edge of extinction, where it can be drawn back before it gets to the point where there’s only one person left. That would be good too. So, Katie, over to you as we’re closing, anything that you would like to say to people to inspire us all?

Katie: I think I want to echo Sinead’s sentiment about what a beautiful, joyful thing it is to grow seeds. And like I said earlier, I used to feel very depressed about the future and I used to feel like there’s no hope. But planting diverse seeds and watching them grow into foods and then allowing them to complete their life cycle and allowing them to become seeds that you can then harvest and share with other people, it is such a hopeful thing to do. And on a practical level it’s literally building a better food system for the future, but on a more symbolic level, the seeds are possibility; they’re a tiny little container for possibility. So in sowing them and growing them and being involved with growing seed and then sharing it with other people, it’s just such a hopeful thing to do. And seeds are really well suited to cooperation. So like Sinead said: seed fosters community. My colleague Holly says you plant a few plants and you let them go to seed and they give you this abundance of seed, which can then be shared with other people. So it’s almost like the seeds are trying to encourage us to connect with one another and to share seeds, and then to share the stories of those seeds and then to work together. So I suppose my parting thing is let’s work together to build a stronger seed system.

Manda: Fantastic. There we go then. We’ll leave it at that. Katie and Sinead, thank you so much for coming on to the Accidental Gods podcast. It’s been lovely.

Sinead: Thank you for having us.

Katie: Thanks, yeah.

Manda: Super. And that’s it for another week. Huge thanks to Sinead and Katie for everything that they’re doing, for the depths of their understanding of what builds community, for their capacity for storytelling, for going out onto the land and inspiring people to save the seeds and grow the seeds and save them again. It’s a good thing. I love doing this podcast, because there is a part of me that just wants to start being a seed grower, right about now. We’re recording this on the last day of February and the growing season is just about to start. And I could go out there and just spend the whole of the rest of my time growing things, and maybe you wouldn’t even miss that the podcast was gone, because you would be so busy growing your own seeds. I would miss it though. This is so much a part of my life now, and there is great joy in being able to connect with people like Katie and Sinead and email them and go, hey, do you want an hour’s conversation where I could ask you anything that occurs to me in the moment? And we do it!

Manda: So bringing this back to Sinead and Katie; please, if this has touched you at all, go out and find how you can be part of this growing revolution. Find your local community seed bank, find your local community garden. You don’t have to be a grower. You might be someone who wants to cook what’s being grown and feed it to people. You might just be a drummer who wants to hold a drumming circle around the fire while people are sharing the food. You might be someone who’s really good at disseminating the ideas. Get onto social media, tell everybody in your local area, join the local WhatsApp groups and inspire people about growing. There is so much that we could be doing. So please, whatever you do, get out there, connect with the food that you eat. Eat locally, grow locally, commune locally. And here we will continue to do the same.

Manda: So that’s it for this week. Enormous thanks to Caro C for the music at the head and foot. Thanks to Alan Lowles at Airtight Studios for the production. To Anne Thomas for the transcripts. To Faith Tilleray for all of the work behind the scenes and for the conversations that keep us moving forward. And as ever, an enormous thanks to you for listening. And if you know of anybody else who wants to be part of this growing revolution, who wants to be inspired to connect with the food that they eat, then please do send them this link. And that’s it for now. See you next week. Thank you and goodbye.

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