On Saturday 28th February 2015 I facilitated a workshop on ‘Seed Sovereignty’ as part of Feed Avalon’s Seed Saving Course. I’d done the workshop twice before – once for the Growing resilience course and another for participants at a Glastonbury Seed Swap. Each time it has been adapted and tweaked. Below is an overview. Feel free to use and share. Let me know how it goes so we can improve this resource.
With enough notice and a donation for our time, Carol and I from Feed Avalon are always interested in running seed saving courses or stand alone workshops.
Seed Sovereignty Workshop, 1hr
Overall aims of the session: To introduce the concept of ‘seed sovereignty’; how our seeds are under threat and positive action we can take
Intended learning outcomes:
At the end of the session the learner will be able to:
- Understand the concept of ‘seed sovereignty’
- Identify a number of threats to seed sovereignty
- Describe three actions one can take to support seed sovereignty
Resources / Room Layout:
- Seated circle with easel & flipchart paper
- Flipchart paper
- Post it notes
- Projector & screen if showing DVD
Differentiation: How will you meet the needs of individual learners?
- Ask if anyone needs any support
- Incorporate visual into session
- Supply handouts at end of session
- Ask for participant feedback
- Observe the group to see there is mutual respect
- Engage everyone
1. Introduce yourself & aims of the workshop. If time ask everyone to do a go round and share what they would like to get out of the session. If time is short then do a go round of names.
2. Ask learners to talk to person next to them, “What do seeds mean to you?” After 2 minutes do a group ‘popcorn’ and capture people’s input onto a mindmap on flipchart paper. Hopefully a large number of themes will emerge – survival, biodiversity, autonomy, resilience, spirituality etc
3. Ask a confident reader to read the poem below. Afterwards emphasise how for many communities, seeds really do constitute survival or ‘sovereignty’. The poem is from the Seed Freedom Report (334 pages).
The Seed Keeper
Burn our land
burn our dreams
pour acid onto our songs cover with saw dust
the blood of our massacred people muffle with your technology the screams of all that is free, wild and indigenous. Destroy.
our grass and soil
raze to the ground
every farm and every village our ancestors had built every tree, every home every book, every law
and all the equity and harmony.
Flatten with your bombs every valley; erase with your edicts our past
our literature; our metaphor Denude the forests
and the earth
till no insect,
can find a place to hide.
Do that and more.
I do not fear your tyranny
I do not despair ever
for I guard one seed
a little live seed
That I shall safeguard
and plant again.
4. Divide the group into two smaller groups. Give them the cards about corporate and food producer interests around seeds. Ask them to allocate them into two columns – small scale food producers, and corporations. When they have done this ask them to give feedback to the group. With each point go into more detail with background political knowledge. Also draw on the existing knowledge from the room.
Download the cards here (you will need to print & cut them up into 2 or more sets depending on your group size).
5. This then leads into a ‘chalk and talk’ talk about key legislation, ask for any input from learners. To refresh your own knowledge, I’d recommend reading some of the downloads in the resources section. You can also see some of the key points in a mindmap I’ve made here. I intend to write it up on the computer soon, apologies for the handwriting! It may be worth creating a flipchart already with some key laws on it to remind yourself.
6. The next part of the workshop is about encouraging people to think about action. I normally have a flipchart paper and ask, ‘How can we defend and create our own seed sovereignty?’ Depending on the size of the group, people can talk in pairs or smaller groups. They then feedback into the larger group.
7. This is an opportunity to also talk about resistance that has been taking place already. Introduce groups, days of action and other resources. Ask people to contribute resources they know.
8. Finish with a final go round where everyone says their next step.
Please note if you have more than one hour I would highly recommend showing one of the short films below.
Seed Sovereignty Resources
There are hundreds of resources online, these are the ones I have found most useful:
- Update on the Seed Regulations – important to read this before doing the workshop. ASEED December 2014.
- Towards Food Sovereignty – ASEED (pdf, 28 pages)
- Ecologist Article about the new South West Seed Saver’s Cooperative (online article)
- You Reap What You Sow Monopolizing the seed industry – ASEED, 2010 (pdf 13 pages)
- Resilient Seed – On the seed industry, EU seed laws and the engagement for seed-sovereigntySeed Sovereignty publication, 2011 (pdf, 24 pages)
- Seeds, Sovereignty, and the Vía Campesina: Plants, Property, and the Promise of Open Source Biology – Academic paper by Jack Kloppenburg, 2008
- Seed Freedom Report (334 pages) – covers absolutely everything if you want indepth knowledge! You can also dip in & out – lots of case studies and links.
- Seeds of Freedom Film – from the Gaia Foundation and African Biodiversity Network
- Seeds of Sovereignty Film – follow up to the above. Also highly recommended.
Other Seed Saving Resources
- Feed Avalon’s Seed Saving Presentation – written by Carol Stone from Feed Avalon
- Seed Saving Top Tips – also produced by Carol Stone from Feed Avalon
- Seed Saving 101, 4 page pdf by Lisa Almarode