Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Thursday 2 August 2012

Fuming about seeds.

Like a lot of home gardeners, I grow a lot of traditional, open pollinated varieties, I save my own seed and buy heritage varieties from small seed companies like RealSeeds, MoreVeg and Kokopelli. I am also a member of HSL, Garden Organic's seed saving, membership organisation. I grow lots of different veg and find the diversity of seeds on offer to be very helpful in the changeable weather conditions we often experience, here in the UK. I also find they taste so much better than "ordinary" varieties.

The tomatoes pictured  in my Lammas post are a good example!

But according to leading organic charities Garden Organic and the Soil Association, the choice of what crops are available for gardeners to grow has been dealt yet another restrictive blow,

"In a recent ruling in the European Court of Justice in Brussels(1) a small French seed company, seeking to defend its sales of old unregistered varieties of vegetables, lost its case. The company, Kokopelli, argued that the basis of the EU Marketing Directive was unlawful and curtailed the right to trade seed freely. However the court opposed this and ruled in favour of the current legislation, which restricts what seed can and cannot be marketed and sold."

Read the full article here 

I suspect quite a few of the seeds I buy to grow will no longer be available to me after this ruling.

As Garden Organic and the Soil Association so rightly point out, every variety lost weakens our ability to create an effective food system that can cope with the increasing challenges of climate change and resource scarcity.”

Bob Sherman, Chief Horticultural Officer at Garden Organic said,

“It is disappointing that the EU has neglected to unravel this controversial Directive to give amateur gardeners freedom of choice. Very few people believe that trade in traditional and endangered varieties threatens the commercial seed world. Despite some recent slackening of the regulation of ‘amateur’ and ‘conservation’ varieties, it appears it is still possible for large corporate businesses to control the market with no hesitation in resorting to law against the minnows of the sector. Fortunately Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library is not a seed company and we will continue to work at protecting the availability of many ‘at risk’ varieties by allowing our supporters access to seeds.”
I think this is a serious mistake on the part of the EU. I am not quite sure who to complain to about this - but surely there must be something we can do?

What do you all think?


  1. I think they should ste this seed business as a charity and you can give a donation for the seed...works here in the US.....also keeps the seed available...

  2. It's a good motivation to save one's own seed. This is one of my complaints with GM foods as those are copyrighted - which gets utterly ridiculous if someone can patent food.

    Definitely save the seeds from your toms so you can have ready supply. It's not difficult to do provided you're using heirloom varieties.

  3. I am also a member of the garden organic and I haven't had a chance to catch up with things like this, so thank you for posting this.
    I think it will be terrible to lose old varieties of seed. I really strongly believe GM foods are not the way to go and this is just another step closer to them.

    By the way I have just found your blog and I have really enjoyed reading it

  4. Thank you for the excellent posts


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.