With the aim of making heritage origins of vegetable seeds and fruit trees available to the general public and growers alike, Irish Seed Savers Association was founded in 1991. Due to modern farming practices, it is estimated that over 80% of fruit and vegetable varieties have been lost . It is Irish Seed Savers aim to create greater awareness of the importance of conserving our unique food and environmental heritage and the importance of seed sovereignty.
At our 20 acre working organic farm in Scarriff, County Clare, we manage organic seed gardens, heritage orchards and woodland trails that are open to the public, giving access to the richness of our biodiversity and ecology.
Our Role within a Fair Food System
Ensuring Ireland meets its EU obligations in the area of conservation and sustainable use of Plant Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture (PGRFA), the seeds and apple trees that we produce are available to purchase online at www.irishseedsavers.ie or from our on-farm shop. We sell one of the largest heritage collections of apple trees in Ireland so if you have a particular variety you would like to source we take variety requests so that we can let you know when your requested variety becomes available. While our focus is food conservation, through engagement by growers, households, and everyone interested in growing food and protecting our precious biodiversity, you too can contribute to our conservation research by growing these varieties of heritage apple trees and open pollinated seeds right in your own backyard!
Managing Ireland’s public Living Seed Bank, we continually grow our store of seeds to ensure their adaptability to changes in our soil and climate, to ensure resilience in this ever changing world. Sensitive to the environment and flexibility towards adaptation, tolerance of soil types, wet and dry conditions, cold and warm conditions, as well as resilience against diseases and other factors, open pollinated seeds are the key to protecting our seed and food security as they keep their elasticity to change. Because each generation of seed has been exposed to slight variations, this way they will have a greater predisposition for success each time they are grown.
In collaboration with seed banks worldwide, we also preserve heritage varieties from all over the world that are best suited to cultivation in Ireland’s climate, putting food security on the agenda and inspiring other movements in organic farming and sustainable gardening. Irish Seed Savers currently preserves, stores and distributes the seeds of 600 heritage vegetable varieties and 48 heritage grain varieties. Through our work on native and heritage fruit trees, we also maintain over 170 different heritage apple varieties in our orchards.