Committee bios

Kate Harrison, Co-chair:  This is my fourth year as Chair of the Seedy Sunday organising committee, this year as vice-chair with Fenella. I’m wondering how I got so lucky with such a brilliant group of committee members to work with. I’ve been living in Brighton for nearly twenty years – a visit to one of the early Seedy Sundays convinced me what a brilliant place Brighton is to live! I’ve been gardening on the Weald allotments for over 15 years, and I love the community and being in nature as much as the fresh fruit and veg I get to grow and share. I like experimenting with unusual varieties and gardening approaches – a high point this year was growing a giant, enormous and very orange squash, a low point was losing all my tomatoes to blight! I see Seedy Sunday as a small but powerful act of resistance against the giant agrochemical industry and solidarity in our local gardening community.

Fenella Burns, Co-chair:

This year for the first time I am co-chair with Kate. For a couple of years I organised the stalls – bringing together local groups that make an incredible difference to Brighton and our local environment. This year during lockdown I helped coordinate distribution of our seed variety packs to 40 local growing groups and community gardens. Despite not holding our seed swap, it’s been encouraging to see Seedy Sunday seeds thriving across the Borough and now being saved to sow, share and swap. I’m part of Growing Hollingdean an eco action group improving our ward by planting and maintaining trees, planning wildflower beds and installing community composting.

I’m a co-worker on an allotment that has been organic for as long as Seedy Sunday has been going. It’s a privilege to maintain that organic growing space: I ‘grow an extra row’ for the Real Junk Food Project cafes, donating rainbow chard, runner beans and potatoes for their community lunches.

Ros Loftin, 2021 Ex/Returning Seed Exchange Coordinator: I have been involved in volunteering for Seedy Sunday for about a decade, using my knowledge of horticulture at the Seed Table, and saving seeds, specifically tomato, for the annual February event. Over the years, I have been interviewed on Gardeners’ Question Time, as well as some French local radio stations and a few magazines. Having trained as a linguist, and later as a designer-maker (stained glass), my professional life has gyrated around education, including teaching horticulture. I have been working my allotments for 26 years, and growing a massive variety of vegetables and flowers . My recent retirement allows me, amongst other things, to focus on re-designing my allotment for total sustainable biodiversity, learning about beekeeping, and helping Seedy Sunday.

Saskia Wesnigk, Seed Exchange Coordinator: I have been a volunteer at Seedy Sunday for years and joined the committee in 2018 because I care deeply about sustainability, growing food, and cooking with seasonal, local produce. I enjoy working with Ros on choosing the seeds we order to add to the swapping table, specialising in open pollinated varieties. I have also in past years helped with coordinating the speakers. I write plays and direct shows: in February 2021 I wrote a play called ‘Love in the Time of Lockdown’ which was performed at the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe. In June 2022 I am directing parts of the Battle Mystery Plays and with my group SwanWing Productions will take my new play ‘The Women of Battle’ to the Fringe again. Photo by Robert Piwko

Alex Embleton, Designer:  I joined the committee in 2019, taking over on the Design side of things, in previous years I have helped out as a volunteer on the ticket desk.  I’m probably the least green fingered among the committee, I have a small garden where I like to try and grow flowers but it’s currently a little bit wild. I tell myself the reason is down to it being more welcoming for local wildlife rather than my pure laziness!  I’m definitely a fair weather gardener and I occasionally help out on my mum and sisters allotment up in Craven Vale, I mainly help out in the warmer months so I can eat all the ripe berries. I may not have much success with growing plants but you can find me spending most of my time drawing them.

James Bradley, Treasurer: I have been on the committee since 2018, having helped out as a volunteer for a few years before. I have an allotment in the wilds of West Sussex. I love growing the odd, slightly more unusual vegetable from Cucamelon to Cape Gooseberry to Shark fin melon. I once received free cucamelon plants from James Wong after sharing with listeners of Gardeners Question time my complete failure to get cucamelons to fruit! My favourite vegetable to grow is purple dwarf french beans – they are so versatile and the colour adds a splash of colour to any dish. They also go green when you cook them for a real surprise!

Ruth Chalker, Volunteer Coordinator: I’m a professional horticulturist and gardener working in the Brighton area. Alongside dealing with my gardening clients and projects I run a living classroom at a local school where I teach children gardening and seed saving. In conjunction with this I have a plot at Stamner Organics where I want to produce seed and provide our local community with a place to work and share knowledge together. I love gardening and the interaction with people and have joined the Seedy Sunday committee to learn more about seed production and to mix with like minded souls. I’ve attended many seedy Sunday events and always wanted to get involved. This year I’m coordinating the volunteers.

Beth Chaplin, Troubleshooter: I love experimenting with small space gardening in my back yard – using vertical space, I grow runner beans up the water pipes and various sweet-pea types around my railings. I re-cycle containers like wooden wine boxes to grow rocket and lettuce in, and my herbs are grown in an old iron fireplace grate. During the Summer I make high woven willow plant supports to grow tomatoes and broad beans up.  I love to draw and paint what I grow. And there is nothing better than eating fresh vegetables that you have grown yourself. I have been on the Seedy Sunday Committee for several years, and the passion and community leading up to and at the event always nurtures my soul.