Seedy Sunday is back as a real life event this year!
Save the date 6th of Feb 2022.
We had the great pleasure to ask the Co-Chair of Seedy Sunday Kate Harrison some questions about Seedy Sunday Brighton.
By Amy Hope
How did Seedy Sunday become an event?
From small beginnings, Brighton and Hove Seedy Sunday began in 2001, when two members of Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group went on holiday to Vancouver, Canada.
There they happened upon a seed swap, organised by Sharon Rempel of Saltspring Seeds. The Brighton gardeners were so impressed that when they got back to England they persuaded a group of fellow growers to help organize a similar event. The result, the UK’s first ever seed swap, took place in St George’s Hall, in Kemptown in Brighton, in February 2002.
The event has grown
Since then, though still run entirely by volunteers, the venue has changed, first to the Old Market in Hove then to the bigger Hove Town Hall and then to the iconic Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. While the Corn Exchange was being refurbished we moved to BHASVIC.
The event has grown to include talks, demonstrations, children’s activities, a cafe and a vibrant market place with over 50 stalls. But at heart it remains a community seed swap: a place where experienced and aspiring growers share seeds for the following year’s crop and tips on how to grow them.
For many it marks the start of the gardening year – we come out of hibernation and reconnect with old friends and make new ones. It really has become an event for gardeners and aspiring gardeners of all ages and abilities – we laughed when James Wong tweeted that there were more check shirts at Seedy Sunday than in a Brick Lane Coffee shop!!
The event could not take place without the generous sponsorship from Infinity Foods. Every year they offer both financial and practical support including distributing seed packets and a fantastic window display in their shop in January.
How will this year be different to previous years?
This year we are at a new venue, the Open Market off the London Road. It’s designated an outdoor space, even though it does have a roof, which makes it easier for COVID safety. We’re focusing on the seed swap this year, going back to our roots as it were! There will be a very few stalls too – Infinity Foods will be there selling seed potatoes, and a few other local community groups such as the Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group, and the Real Junk Food Project and Sussex Surplus will be selling hot food. Unlike other years we won’t have a big hall of more commercial stalls, we won’t have speakers or a children’s area. It’s a shame but we don’t have space at the Open Market. The upside is that the Open Market is a more central location than BHASVIC and we’re able to offer the event for free, though donations will be very welcome.
The core concept of Seedy Sunday remains the same – we’ll have a huge range of seeds to swap for seeds you’ve saved, or to exchange for a 50p donation. And I’m sure there’ll be the usual lovely atmosphere of starting the gardening year and chatting with fellow gardeners.
20 years back, what was the first one like? people from the start?
I remember going to Seedy Sunday when it was at the Old Market back in 2002 or 2003. I’d only been in Brighton a couple of years, and had only just started gardening. I still remember the feeling of walking in to this festival of growing! I bought a bokashi compost bin there, which I still use, and it started me thinking more about soil health. I kept coming every year, buying seed potatoes and seeds. It was only later I learned to save seed for swapping, which was incredibly satisfying. I remember the talks being brilliant – a highlight being sitting on the floor at the Dome listening to wonderful James Wong. I think I only volunteered once or twice, once we’d moved to BHASVIC. I joined the committee in 2017, and became chair a couple of years later. For our 2022 event at the Open Market I’m working with a wonderful dedicated committee.