Pathways to Seed Sovereignty


Seeds are the foundation of agriculture. They are highly prized by farmers the world over but also by corporations that seek to profit from their value. This session will include an update on the controversial EU plant reproductive material law (PRML) that is seeking strict regulation of small-scale seed markets, as well as the experiences from the French peasant seed network Reseau Semences Paysannes. It is also a practical session giving advice and tips on home seed saving.


Chair: Ashley Wheeler

Ashley is a second generation farmer and runs a four acre market garden at Trill Farm in east Devon. He is a co-founder of the Landworkers’ Alliance and in 2014 he helped set up the South West Seed Savers Network which aims to reclaim the skills of seed saving and work towards the goal of seed sovereignty.

Ben Raskin, Soil Association

Ben Raskin has been working in horticulture for 20 years. He is currently Head of Horticulture at the Soil Association and also works freelance as a horticultural advisor. He was a founding board member of the Community Farm near Bristol, for whom he also worked as horticultural advisor. Ben set up and ran the 10 acre horticultural production at Daylesford organic Farm, before moving to the Welsh College of Horticulture as commercial manager. More recently Ben has managed the Soil Assocation’s Future Growers scheme to inspire and train a new generation of organic growers. Ben is also passionate about seeds and has been representing the Soil Association in recent consultation over the European Plant Reproductive Material Law. He is also the author of “Compost, a Family Guide to Making Soil from Scraps” aimed at young children and their parents.

Phillipe Catinaud, Reseau Semences Paysannes, French Peasant Seed Network

Phillipe runs a small vegetable seed business in France and is co-chairman of the French Peasant Seed Network (Réseau Semences Paysannes). RSP is a network of more than sixty organisations across France working for the promotion and defence of crop biodiversity and seed saving skills and knowledge. The network also lobbies both the French government and the European parliament for the regulation of the seed industry and protection of heritage varieties as well as coordinating participatory research for newly adapted crop varieties.

Please note Phillipe was unable to attend the event and was replaced by Peter Brown

Peter Brown, Biodynamic Association

Peter Brown is Director of the Biodynamic Association. He has farmed biodynamically since he was 21, first on a farm near Cape Town in South Africa for 15 years, then in Germany for 3 years before moving to Tablehurst Farm in Sussex in 1994. In 1996 Tablehurst became one of the first CSA’s in the country, a mixed biodynamic farm of 500 acres with a farm shop, which includes 3 apprentices and 3 adults with learning disabilities as part of the team.

Kate McEvoy, Real Seed Catalogue

Kate is a grower in west Wales where along with her partner Ben Gabel she founded the Real Seed Catalogue in 2000 to provide high quality open pollinated vegetable seeds to small-scale producers and home gardeners. In contrast to most seed companies Real Seeds actively encourages its customers to save their own seed. Both Kate and Ben have been involved in consultation over recent changes to UK and European seed laws.

Dan Burston, South West Seed Saving Cooperative

Dan manages the gardens at Embercombe, which is a land-based education and leadership centre in Devon, aiming to inspire people from all walks of life, to take courageous and committed action towards creating the world they wish to live in. He works with people who come on their programmes to manage 4 acres of vegetables, soft fruit and top fruit, providing for our own kitchens and a small CSA veg box scheme. Dan is also in the core group of the Landworkers Alliance, where he focusses on seed issues. He co-founded the South West Seed Savers’ Cooperative – a network of growers setting out to recreate a resilient population of locally adapted seeds which are within their control.


Audio Recording


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